I woke early to the sound of heavy goods vehicles thundering by on the busy highway to Hanoi. I’d just spent the night with a Vietnamese family watching an episode of Vietnams Next Top Model featuring Donna of Haute Culture fame. The family had very kindly invited me for dinner and offered a bed for the night. The bed being the one outside their huge roadside restaurant next to the main arterial road connecting Hanoi to the North.
In this final post covering our trip in north Vietnam I want to tell you about two roads. This pair of roads neatly bookend our journey from Dong Van all the way to Cao Bang and the Ban Gioc Waterfall. They also happen to be my favourite in Vietnam.
CONTENT WARNING: This post contains a detailed account of a man taking a shit on a tile. If you are sensitive to toilet humour, this post may not be for you. You have been warned.
Next day the road took us up to Quan Ba. We ate a late lunch and found out from the locals more of the road ahead. From the map it looked like a very steep twisting route. Our thoughts were confirmed and we were advised to stay the night. The journey on a moto would take six hours. We checked in to the most luxurious suite so far. A twin double with a huge window, balcony and a cracking view across the valley. It was a treat to be off the bike so early so I took a shower and set out to explore the town on foot.
Travelling the North of Vietnam by motorbike is a big deal. It’s a very cool thing to do. Talk to any backpacker, traveller or vagabond worth their salt and they’ll tell you it’s the way to see the North of this beautiful country. The only way, even. Understandably then, when I set out from Mountain View Hostel with my fully laden touring bicycle, eyebrows were raised.
I set forth from Ha Noi with more than a little trepidation. Admittedly, the experience of the last 4,554km cycling from London to Istanbul would serve me well in the next stage of my journey, however the idea of entering a wholly new terrain, culture and continent weighed heavy on my mind.
Late on Wednesday afternoon of the twenty eighth of July, at Noi Bai International Airport, there was a large cardboard box, crumpled and open along one edge with bits of sticky tape torn and ripped protruding in all directions. My bike had arrived safely from Istanbul. Thank you Qatar Airways.