Day Nine: Dak Pek to Ea Drang – 269km
Byron’s back tire was completely flat, so our early morning start was delayed by an inner tube change at the town mechanic. With the new tire, pho for breakfast, and full gas tanks, we headed off for Kon Tum. Thankfully the insane mountain climbs from yesterday were over and we were in Kon Tum for lunchtime. We spotted a brand new Honda Win at a dealership and it turned out to be $800, which was not bad for a brand new motorcycle.
The second half of the day was spent navigating the hellish road conditions of one construction zone after another. Not only was the road shut down to one lane, but it’s covered in sand and gravel and you have to share it with the trucks, buses, motorcycles, steam rollers and bulldozers. Needless to say, we didn’t make it to our original destination for the night and had to start looking for hotels when our shadows started getting long. Somewhere I had read that the Vietnamese word for guesthouse is “Nha Nghi”, and we passed many of these in our search for a hotel. We drove for at least another 35kilometers this way. This whole time I thought Byron was just being picky about our accommodation for the night by passing up all these places to sleep. Finally, after my legs and butt muscles were cramped beyond belief, he finally stopped at a grand looking “Nha Nghi”.
“I hope this is a hotel. I stopped because it kind of looked like one.”
It was then I realized that Byron didn’t know the word for guesthouse and thought this was our first opportunity. My muscles groaned.
This hotel turned out to be great though because two Germans and their Vietnamese guide pulled up on their motorbikes soon after us. We all had dinner together at the hotel and got to ask their guide, Chin (who ironically had the longest chin hair I’ve ever seen) all the random Vietnamese questions we had, and enjoy a delicious meal with them. We swapped travel stories until late in the night, happy to finally be in the company of someone other than just each other.