What a mission! The last few days have been a challenge to say the least. In the last update we were about to head over the boarder through a little town called Dien Bien, which is in the north of Vietnam. After 40km of riding from the town to the boarder, we were told that because the bikes weren’t registered in that province, we were not allowed through. Our best option was to ride 500km south and head through a different boarder. So we were pretty tired and I wasn’t keen on doing much riding that day, so we headed back to Dien Bien and found a bus that would take us and the bikes within 180km of our destination.
We arrived at the station and enquired about the bus, we were told it would be 400,000 dong each which is $20 which we thought was reasonable, what we didn’t know, is that our almost full tanks of petrol would be emptied out and someone would pay us less than half the value of it. Someone nicked off with 1.5 litres of my gas without paying which put all of us on high alert as the frenzy continued. People arguing and fighting over our petrol. One of the more arrogant of these hustlers knocked over Matt’s bike, which almost resulted in his concussion. Tensions were high, and things didn’t get better there.
We then found out that the bikes had to be dismantled to fit into the bottom of the bus, which took some time, and left Matt and Ian’s bikes damaged. The time came for the bus to leave, and we were all nice and settled in our comfy seats… For about a minute then we were told to go squeeze into the back of the bus! Matt and I had to sleep on the engine and boy was it hot! Ian was sandwiched between 5 Vietnamese men, one of which vomited for the first 2 hours of the trip. We also got told as we were about 10min into the trip that it would cost us near on 1.2 million dong which is $67. We were actually rope-able at this stage, and had no choice but to pay it.
After getting off the bus, we road for 9 hours to the boarder on some of the most ridiculous roads we have been on thus far, got through without issue thank the Lord, and then a further 4 hours to the nearest town where we are currently staying!
We spent 2 nights here before heading off, we needed some R & R before heading off again. So this morning we packed up the bikes and were ready at 8:30 this morning. Ian’s bike decided it didn’t want to start so he had to go to the mechanics. This took about 2 hours to fix, in which time we ate some breakfast. Then we were off for real’s. 16km into our journey as we were just starting to decent down a small mountain my back brake decided it no longer wanted to work as I was going around a tight corner. I had to make a quick decision and ditch the bike, I rode straight for the bushes, dropped the bike on its side as I some how managed to clear it without ripping my leg off. I came away injury free. It was an actual miracle! The bike wasn’t in too bad shape either, so I rolled it extremely slowly down the mountain to a mechanic using only engine breaking.
It was getting late in the day 12pm when we were done at the mechanic’s so we decided to head home, we quickly checked out some “hot springs” on the way through they were a mission to get to, and none of us were that keen to swim there. I don’t think anyone had even been there in about 2 years. It was completely run down. We managed to have our first leech encounter while we were on our way home from the “hot springs” which was pretty crazy.
Now we are relaxing back at the guest house and I am hoping our luck is about to get a whole lot better!