It wasn’t just misty this morning, but raining, so we put on our hideously ugly rain pants and prayed the rain covers would protect our bags from the tire spray. Again, the landscape was swathed in green in every direction. We rode past a gigantic pagoda overlooking a river, which we tried to get a good glimpse of while zooming by. At eleven in the morning, we stopped on a bridge overlooking the lush fields and a meandering river. The tranquility was ruined by the screeches emanating from a building across the river playing awful karaoke. I will never understand the Vietnamese obsession with karaoke at all hours of the day.
We stopped for lunch in a random village along the route and pulled in front of a restaurant with a few plastic chairs and a sign saying “com ga”, which meant rice and chicken. The mother and daughter running the place waved us over eagerly and encouraged us to buy drinks and sit down and relax. They fussed over our table setting and then sat down to start fussing with us. The mother kept poking my nose and saying the word “dap” and pointing to my eyes. She grabbed my hand and the daughter took pictures of us eating the food. I had no idea what they were saying, but it was clear their chatting and laughing wasn’t about the weather.
After eating, they pulled me out of my chair and led me to the porch to take a picture. The mother took my arm and wrapped it around her and the daughter squeezed her arms around me as Byron took the picture. We insisted we had to get back on the road and asked how much we owed them for the food. They said a price that was triple what we’ve paid many times for com ga. Not wanting to cause a fuss, we paid it and left, but getting ripped off tainted the experience significantly.
We turned off of the Ho Chi Minh trail and started driving through more sizable towns, sprawling graveyards, and countless ornate temples. The sun was shining at this point and it felt great to finally feel the warmth on my arms and legs as we throttled through to Hue.
At one point, our paint can fell out of the bag and bounced along the side of the road. We stopped to reattach the bags on the side of the road, which was enough of an event to bring a small crowd from the nearby town out to see what the Westerners were up to. They watched in amusement as we strapped the bungee cords to the bike and accelerated away as if it were the most fascinating thing they’d seen all day.
Although the road was filled with beautiful bridges crossing flowing streams with picturesque Vietnamese boats, it was also flanked by deep bits of sand on either side. As a result, when a truck was coming in the other direction, I was forced to ride into the sand on the edge and I could feel Blue Steel did not like this one bit. The next second, we were both down, so I wiggled my foot from underneath the weight of the bike and tried in vain to pick it up and out of the road. I couldn’t budge the bike an inch, but miraculously, a guided group of Westerners on scooters were riding behind me and rushed to help me pick the motorbike off the road and check for damage. I was going so slow that a broken mirror, a bruised foot and some shaken confidence were the only results and I got back on and continued the ride to Hue without any other kerfuffles.
Hue traffic wasn’t as dense as Hanoi, but we still had to be on our guard going over tiny arched bridges with a dozen other motorbikes at a time, or passing through the narrow tunnels of the aged citadel walls. The city had a quaint feel with all the historical buildings and infrastructure, but also a modern mix of western brands and shiny new bridges and buildings. By the time we checked in to our hotel, it was dark and we were hungry, so we decided to save our sightseeing for tomorrow. On our quest for food, I saw many more tourists than I did Vietnamese. The upside was that I got to eat delicious western-prepared food. The downside was that I felt just as touristy as the people walking around in I ❤️ Vietnam shirts and cargo pants.