Within a few minutes of our having set out from Babe, it started to drizzle and we started climbing some pretty steep hills with bad roads and a lot of heavy vehicles – mainly fully loaded trucks.
Craig was really felling the pain as he enjoyed the rice wine a little too much the night before and was paying for it today.
As anyone who has travelled in Vietnam will tell you, large vehicles like trucks and buses drive with little regard for pedestrians and smaller vehicles like motorcycles. To compound the situation, there was a lot of traffic today and these overloaded trucks were breaking down because of a burnt clutch or some other sort of fatal ailment that meant that they would have to be towed away or repaired where they broke down. A couple of hours into the ride we saw a truck with it’s cabin, on the drivers side completely smashed in, being towed away. The driver did not survive the accident!
Since we left late, we had to cover a couple of hundred kilometres in about 3 hours and Craig, Al and I all agreed that it was the worse riding conditions any of use had ever experienced in our over 60 (collective) years of riding. Drizzle – which turned into a fine mist, slippery roads – with engine oils and fluids mixed in with road grime, large trucks – in heavy traffic that was breaking down with rocks and rubbish like broken off tree branches in front or behind them and fog and eventually no daylight.
As you can see from the lack of photos, the conditions were so bad that these are the only riding related pictures we took that day. We were too busy trying to stay alive and avoid getting into an accident.
These picture are of the rest area we stopped at on top of the tallest hill we had climbed that day. After a break of about 15 – 20 minutes, we git back on our bikes and ride all the way into Cao Bang without stopping.
We arrived after sunset and checked into the hotel we were staying in that night. Unbeknownst to my fellow adventurers, I told myself that if the conditions tomorrow were as bad as they were today, I would call it quits. I felt that it would be only a matter of time before one of us got into a serious accident and I was not willing to risk it.
We all had a shower and change of clothes and then went off to dinner. The restaurant was about 300 metres away from our hotel in a half completed building and it looked pretty dubious. I was a little surprised to see a number of western faces as we walked in. There were two chaps from Austria who like us were riding dirt bikes through Vietnam and a couple of French girls with a guy from Melbourne – who throughout the entire meal did not say a word to the two Aussies in our group. It was quite odd and he only admitted to being an Australian when I asked him where he was from.
A few minutes into the meal an American walked in with a really professional camera and we started talking. He said he was travelling on a photographic assignment through Vietnam, Thailand and I think Cambodia, on a motorcycle he had bought in Vietnam. He sounded like any other wannabe or poser that you often meet when travelling but after a while he told us his name and it rang a bell with Josh and myself. His name was Tim Lundin and I think he is a really good photographer with a diverse range of styles.
He was kind enough to tell Josh, the fledgling photographer, to send him an email if he wanted any advice or if he wanted a critique of any of the pictures he had taken. It was very nice of him to offer this.
After dinner, we called it a night. We were tired and Al and I especially, were saddle sore.
Tomorrow’s adventure, the waterfall separating China and Vietnam!