Vietnam

January 9. 5:25pm.

The morning started with a breakfast of pancakes and ice cream (?) followed by a pre-dawn walk through the streets of Hanoi. We left the hotel at 5:30am to find the garage and pick up the bikes. Google maps got us there at 6:15am, a little later than we were supposed to meet the mechanic, but he was even later, so it was fine. Pack up the bikes and hit the petrol station and we’re on the way. Mercifully, the traffic wasn’t too bad that early in the morning. We paid the mechanic $15 to show us out of the city and 40 minutes later we had already covered 50k. The traffic intensified as the morning wore on. The pace of the traffic is quick, but not necessarily the speed. You may only be doing 40 miles per hour, but at any second someone may cross in front of you or cut you off. Not for the meek or cautious driver.

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We decided to let Todd set the pace, as the least experienced motorcycle driver, it seemed safest to let him set the tone. Experience aside, Todd was not fazed. He immediately took to the bike and set an aggressive pace. I was a little concerned we’d be waiting on him (thinking back on the first time I rode a motorcycle), instead we struggled to keep up. Everyone in the group has their own way of riding the bikes. Todd, for one, clearly has more fun passing than being passed. Andrew is erratic, elbows up, head down. I imagine his eyes ablaze, like the Red Baron in a cat fight, bobbing and weaving around traffic. At one point he tried to high five a group of school girls trying to cross the street, and having no idea what he was doing – they jumped out of the way like he was attacking them. Solid comedy for the rest of us. I’m the mother hen type, sticking to the back, always checking where everyone is, making sure we’re accounted for. Adam is relaxed, as a motocross racer he’s accustomed to this kind of traffic, and its easy for him. At Todd’s break neck pace, we made great time, and about 60k in, we were flagged down by some official looking types in tan uniforms. They demanded our passports, and we realized we’d somehow managed to leave them at the hotel, they asked for our regular licenses we didn’t have those either, having given those up for collateral when we rented the bikes. We had no insurance or registration, no identification and no papers, at least we had cash, and we needed it. The bartering started with a fine of $600 each, and we wound up driving away paying $125 total. Compared to the possibility of being jailed indefinitely, we were pleased. After the ticket/bribe, we tried to take it a little slower. Honestly, the reality check was probably a good thing, considering that we’d been driving like lunatics. Adam took the lead and set a more reasonable pace.

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We made it to Ha Long Bay without incident (aside from a few minor hiccups, the detainment and a tea stop), we made pretty good time. The bikes are small by American standards, only 125 cc, but they are well suited here, as most of the vehicles on the road are scooters or mopeds or gigantic trucks. We have the torque to get around traffic when we have to, but the small bikes are nimble and handle easily. Driving these things makes me wonder if the gigantic bikes we’re obsessed with in America are necessary for our driving conditions, or just our egos. These Yamaha YBR 125’s are like bmx bikes with motors, the suspension is soft like a dirt bike, and you sit up pretty straight, making them relatively comfortable. The biggest downside is their biggest asset – they are small. Quick and lite, but they don’t give you much opportunity to stretch your legs.

We got to Ha Long, had a lunch of seafood rice, beef noodles French fries, coffee and beer. We met up with our tour guide, the Peter. We boarded a skiff, which took us out to our boat. It looked relatively seaworthy, at least as much as the rest of them, and I was impressed at how nice it was on the inside.We were greeted with a drink and showed to our rooms. Not bad for sleeping on a boat, provided it doesn’t sink. We headed out into the bay, which is staggering. Intensely beautiful and huge. Limestone mountains jut out of the emerald bay, so odd and out of place they must be beautiful. There are loads of tourist boats, but its ok, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t tat way. We docked on an island, climbed a one million mile stairway to a nice view, and escaped death once again by not falling down the 427 stairs. From there we went back to the boat, took the kayaks through a cave into a cove that had monkeys practicing making more monkeys, and headed back to the boat. From there it was a quick shower, an intense spring roll cooking lesson – put stuff on the rice paper, then roll it up – very complex. Luckily the Peter offered to email us the recipe. We had happy hour, which was lychee martinis and passion fruit martinis, two for one ($1.25 each). From there it was straight to dinner, which was insane: crab, prawn, dragon fruit, weird fried chicken, fish drum sticks, and on and on. The food was almost too pretty to eat, but we made do. Now we’re in our rooms, planning our escape if the boat sinks. Sleeping with s life jacket on is being considered, but we’ll see. Tonight will be a solid eight hours of much needed rest. Tomorrow we’ll see a cave, and head off to parts unknown.

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January 11. 9:52am.

Good day. We made it to Ninh Binh. We started the day on the boat, great sleep and a pretty good breakfast. We visited some caves, and headed back to shore. After lunch we got on the road. The traffic is intense, but we’re getting the hang of it. I will just describe a possible situation: a bus passing a dump truck headed east bound, there’s a lorry headed west, passing a bicycle who is being passed by a scooter, an unnamed foreigner heading west is passing a bus headed east in the east bound break down lane while another unnamed foreigner is passing a scooter, bicycle, and a lorry heading east. Now I’m not saying that anyone with me was involved in a 7 vehicle wide passing maneuver at any time today, but I will say that the traffic is intense. In the US you sort of know what you’re up against, what to watch for and where to expect danger. Here, anything could happen. People pass on the left or right, and sometimes pass even when there is oncoming traffic, if they feel like you have enough room to get out of the way. The tricky part is, you could be passing a big truck on the right (that’s what bikes and scooters do), and someone coming the other way could decide to pass, so the truck has to move into the breakdown lane – where you’re driving. This is why the bikes are good, they have the power to get out of the way but are nimble enough to turn quickly. At one point today, things got weird and Todd wound up passing a bicycle on a foot path in the ditch while Adam passed the bicycle on the right, all the while in the breakdown lane next to a tour bus. It sounds reckless, but its sort of normal, people here drive where there’s room – not where the rules say to drive. Because of this, you have to be razor sharp at all times, traffic moves from left to right quickly, intersections are chaos, and literally anything can happen. People do everything on their scooters, we’ve seen 5 people on one, a guy carrying a giant pig, someone carrying lumber balanced on the back not tied off, someone carrying an aluminum pole probably 25 feet long, a scooter that had at least a hundred geese attached to it in varying ways, it just gets weirder all the time. Today we also saw our first restaurants that specialize in dogs and cats. It’s considered good luck to eat dog and cat at different times of the month, and people here love it. We saw a German Shepard in a cage outside a restaurant today. Apparently the smaller dogs are too gamey.

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We arrived in Ninh Binh, got two rooms for $15 each, and went for dinner. We had some good local stuff, fried noodles and beef for $1 a plate. The place looked pretty rough, but the food has been amazing everywhere. We asked the guys at the restaurant for directions to some bia hoi, and found ourselves in a back alley second floor bar drinking rice wine and beer on a mat with some Vietnamese. We walked in and they started taking pictures of us (not many white folks in this area), so I pulled out my phone and took pictures of them. They loved it and we were instant friends. They had some hot wine type sake drink served in coconuts, and they thought it was the funniest thing ever to pour themselves tiny shots and us huge shots. Must be a proportion thing? The Vietnamese are very proud, and they refused to let us buy a round or pay for anything. My tongue is burned from boiling wine, and tomorrow will be a long one, so that’s all.

Oh yeah, we got our passports.

January 12. 7:31 pm.

The day started locked in the hotel. Apparently they were not expecting guests to be up at 6:30am so they padlocked us all inside. Glad there wasn’t a fire. The plan was to do 200k and wind up in Vinh for lunch. After about 60k we stopped for breakfast. We’re a little off the beaten path now, and we’re more of a spectacle in the villages. We had pho bo and some random treats from the snack case. The coffee in the north is thick and strong, in this case instant coffee with condensed milk. They pour hot water in to weaken it if you’re a wuss, and we are, so they do. We’re getting warm welcomes everywhere we go now, they smile and point and sometimes take photos of us. They love that we have no grasp on their language and that they have no grasp on ours. When we were leaving, Adam went into the bathroom and saw two girls preparing meat on the bathroom floor. It was a bit disturbing, but I have to be honest, todays breakfast was the best meal I’ve ever had that was prepared on a bathroom floor.

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We’ve heard bad things about the 1A. Everything I read in advance of the trip said if you’re going any distance to avoid the coastal road at all costs. Because we went to Ha Long Bay, the route was unavoidable. We had the same traffic adventure as yesterday, but today added a new danger. As far as I can tell, the entire 1A is under construction, and that means bits of new road, followed by blinding dust, followed by patches of mogul style dirt road, all accompanied with the smell of diesel fuel and burning trash. A real treasure of international travel. After all I’ve read about the road, I was surprised it wasn’t that bad. I mean, sure there’s horrible traffic and the road itself is in bad shape, but the descriptions I read practically had me expecting a goat path with sixteen wheelers. I was feeling a little smug actually and sort of congratulating myself for how well we were dealing, making good time and passing everyone every way. Turns out my smugness was like thinking guns aren’t dangerous because you didn’t accidentally shoot yourself on the way home from buying one. Of course guns can be dangerous, and of course the 1A encompasses all that can be evil about a road. As in many countries, the chief threat is the tour bus drivers. I assume they are recruited from prisons, and are of the most violent and sadistic types of criminals. They drive like they are on a kamikaze mission, blazing through traffic, honking their horns and running people off the road, then they stop suddenly, pull off to the side, and pull back out to torture the same lot again. If there is a hell, it is full of tour bus drivers.

I knew someone on this trip was going to crash. It seemed inevitable, but I did not think it would be me. I feel like I’m the careful one in the group, when I’m in the lead we go slowest, and I’m always checking my mirror to make sure we’re all together. Despite my caution, at one point when I was following Todd the tour bus we were passing on the right decided to pull over. He put on his blinker and started to move, but we were next to him with nowhere to go. Todd was ahead and gunned it, avoiding the ditch narrowly. No luck for me. I went off the road, into mud and a puddle, and found myself on the ground. I got up quick, dazed, and went back to my bike. I picked it up and walked it to a dry spot to catch my breath. I was shaking a little, it wasn’t so much that I was hurt, I’d landed hard on my knees but lets face it – not bad for being thrown from a motorcycle and almost being hit by a bus. I was alive, nothing broken, and the bike was drivable. After a few minutes Todd circled back, we drove a few k to catch up with Adam and Andrew. I’m not a reckless person, but I don’t think of myself as a wuss either, I have to be honest: I was pretty shook up. It scared me because I wasn’t being an idiot, and I didn’t really do anything wrong. I did a few miles of soul searching after picking myself up off the ground. You know: is my life heading in the right direction, am I happy, what else do I want to do before I die, standard near-death experience stuff. The bike was a mess, but Adam straightened the wheel and the instruments at lunch, and we broke off and threw away the cracked parts. All good, and we decided to take the quickest route possible off the 1A and toward the Ho Chi Minh highway. We cut across the country to get to the better road, and hit a secondary road. Adam was right in his element, loving the dirt and mud. We had to remind him that this is not a motocross race after he cut off the road and jumped onto the construction zone to pass a truck. Hot dog said we were driving like jerks yesterday and today he hits some dirt and he’s Travis Pastrana. We got to the Ho Chi Minh highway around four, and life became good. Less traffic, perfect road, rice fields, smiling people waving, it was like we stepped out of a nightmare and onto a tourist propaganda postcard. We stumbled across a town that saw heavy bombing during the War of American Aggression (as its called here) and found some monuments. They had some American artillery and an American plane. Pretty intense. Considering that America was dropping bombs out of B52’s into these villages during these people’s lifetimes, they are incredibly warm and friendly, more so than any other country I’ve visited. The deeper we travel into this country, the more I like the Vietnamese.

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We are in Khe now, or a town next to a river called Khe, in the north central highlands. We’re more inland, and its getting s little warmer. We walked around the village, played some ball with the locals, had a good dinner and we’re calling it a night. It was a tough one for me today, I’m not accustomed to motorcycle accidents, but I will sleep well knowing that tomorrow will be a better road, and I’ve got some new experience on my side. Side note: we have not seen the sun for five days.

January 13. 5:28pm.

We left at dawn. The Ho Chi Minh trail stretched in front of us, winding up and around the silver mist wrapped mountains. Villages growing rice and coffee line the road in the valleys, becoming more sparse every time we gain altitude. The past is behind us, a new days adventure in front. Well, the past wasn’t really behind me, I was still feeling yesterday’s crash. Both knees are puffy and my ankle is stiff, the walk down the stairs at the hotel was the days first adventure for me. Anyway, today was a “work day,” which means the plan was to bomb it as far as possible.

We are traveling on the Ho Chi Minh Highway. We are in Khe Sahn, the sight of some of the bloodiest fighting in the Vietnam War. Interestingly, even after so many US troops died defending it, the military decided it was a useless base and closed up shop under the cover of night, burying or burning any evidence that we were ever here. We did see a few random things, a few ancient jeeps and some helmets. It’s not bad, though the tourist book says “there’s no reason to visit.” Basically a dusty drag 10k from the border crossing into Laos.

We climbed up and over two mountain passes today, curvy and narrow. The only traffic was an occasional scooter or herd of cows. As we climbed the air got thicker, and we wound up driving through silver mist, our shins and chests got wet, but there was no rain. The road was slick and very narrow, which slowed us down. After over ten hours on the road, we did 340k today, and we’re all feeling it. The good news is that we’ve crossed into the Central Highlands, and on our way down the last mountain pass, the air got warmer and we saw the sun for the first time since we arrived in Vietnam. The people are a bit different looking, we are only 10k from Laos, and the hill people we saw today are very isolated, the minority races in Vietnam. They love in houses built on stilts designed to protect the inhabitants from local wildlife. All day people have been friendly, smiling and waving. As we got closer to Khe Sahn, the older people flashed the peace sign. We had a horrible dinner, the only bad food we’ve had since we got here, and are heading to bed early, everyone is too tired to see what this town has to offer. Tomorrow we will try and push for Hoi An.

January 14. 9:31pm.

Last night I slept with a tarp over me. Poler makes one that doubles as an emergency blanket. I brought it along on case of flash rains, I did not think I would use it inside a hotel room. We met at the bikes for 6:30am, had a quick coffee and got on the road. Leaving Khe Sanh, we saw children walking or riding their bikes to school. In nearly every village, no matter how small, there is a school and the kids have uniforms. We also saw a lot more of the ethnic minorities, wearing sarongs and carrying basket backpacks. There is evidence of some kind of economic boom, lots of construction, new roads and schools. A developing country needs infrastructure before it can have a healthy economy, it seems they are on their way.

We stopped for coffee in Prao, and bought a bunch of Vietnamese snacks. The plan was to make it to Hoi An, and at 360k, it was 40k further than our longest day yet. We ran into five or six Americans who live in Da Nang. They were out on a motorcycle ride for the day, seeing some sights and exploring the highlands. They left ahead of us but were stopping for photos frequently, so we caught up and passed them a few k out of town. Adam and Andrew are both really fast, and on the curvy bits Todd and I take it a little slower, we meet up at a convenient place to stop. Still, we’ve been moving, and considering that we hadn’t been seeing any traffic, we were taking advantage of both lanes of the road around turns. Shortly after leaving Prao the traffic started to pick up a little, mostly scooters, maybe one every ten or fifteen minutes. I decided to slow my pace a little, and keep my bike in the proper lane. This isn’t a race, and I wondered how many hours drive we were from decent medical treatment if I misjudged a corner, hit some loose gravel, or had to stop quick. It’s not like there’s no danger, earlier in the day, we’d seen a rockslide warning sign that had been taken out by a rockslide. Minor problems can turn into major problems in a place like this. Soon after taking it down a notch, we were climbing a hill, and coming around a sharp turn I was tight to the inside when the world exploded. Coming in the other direction was a scooter, also tight to the inside – but on the wrong side of the road. I didn’t see him, and he didn’t see me, just a flash and an impact. There was no time to react, I was going 35 or 45 kph, and he was probably going faster. We hit head on. For the second time in three days, I found myself flying over the handlebars. I hit the ground hard, with most of my weight on my shoulder and banging my head, I slid for probably 20 feet, shredding my jeans and jacket, and some skin. As I was sliding I actually had time to feel relieved, I knew I was alive, and at that moment that seemed like a big deal. I heard Todd lock his brakes up, and just before he ran over my leg, we made eye contact. My oldest friend was running me over, after a head on collision no less. He got my right leg about hLf way between my knee and ankle, I did not feel anything. Todd’s bike fell on me, but because of the saddle bags and him trying to keep it up, I didn’t get the whole weight of it. While everything was still moving he asked if I was ok. Adrenalin is a hell of a drug, and I was laughing before I’d stopped sliding. I told him I’d be fine if he got off me. When I stood up it started to sink in. Broken pieces of motorcycle and scooter littered the road. All three vehicles were still on the right hand side of the road. The kid had been way off where he should have been. I picked up the bike and moved it to the side. The handle bars were wrecked. When we hit it was with enough force to bend the left handle bar back to the gas tank, so the bars could turn right, but not left.. The instrument panel exploded, as did the fender. The front tire was bent as well. Luckily the bike had taken most of the impact. I was obviously banged up, and it was pretty clear that I’d come really close to dying, but was walking away. The Vietnamese kid was alright too. He motioned that we’d been drinking, and that I was on the wrong side of the road. Both things were ridiculous, and there were deep gouges in the road that easily showed where we had crashed, and we’d just had breakfast – not booze. I pulled out our guide book, looking for a way to communicate with him, he stood close to me to try and get a look – it was he who had been drinking. Things started making sense, and people also started showing up. A few Vietnamese and the other Americans we’d seen earlier. It was obvious what had happened, but the Vietnamese were having none of it. The kid was wasted, driving on the wrong side of the road, nearly killed us, and started demanding money. We were in a jam, Adam and Andrew were ahead, we were both a bit dazed, and the bike wasn’t drive able. In Vietnam, whoever is bigger pays in a crash – that was me. The kid also started getting a little touchy, grabbing people and yelling that he was going to call the police. We tried to tell him that he should call the police, that they would smell the alcohol on him. It was clear we had a guy throwing a temper tantrum because his scooter was broken and he had no way of fixing it. It was like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Do you: a. Bloody the kids nose and hope he sees things your way; b. wait for the police to show up and count on being able to convince the cops through sign language that you didn’t do anything wrong; or c. give the kid $50 and suggest aggressively that he leave. We went with c. The kid chilled out, but no one was leaving. The Americans had left, promising to send our crew back. Soon the action part of our crew showed up, who clearly had not just banged their heads on the ground. They took control and in minutes Adam had the bike fit enough to be towed by another bike, and we got out of there. We towed the bike a few k, and pit crew Adam bent back the bars, broke off the broken stuff, replaced the clutch, and pop started the bike. The bike was jacked but it would get us to Hoi An, and were back on the road. After an experience like that, there is a tendency to do some soul searching. I had just done all that the day before, so I didn’t have much to think about. I’m glad the bike can be repaired and I don’t have to cut the trip short, I’m glad nothing is broken, and I’m glad I’m alive. We rolled into Hoi An at dusk, bruised but not beaten. We found a hotel, got some dinner and some wifi, and called it a day.

January 15. 8:40pm.

Today was a rest day in Hoi An. It’s a charming tourist town, with wifi, hot water, and menus in English. Adam and Andrew had suits made, and we hunted around for bike parts. Here you can get a custom suit made in 24 hours for under $200, but its tough to get handlebars. We finally found some, and the bike is starting to come back together. It’s still smashed, but the front end is mostly straight. Some problems with the front break, missing turn signal, no headlight, throttle is jacked, no front fender, but it drives. We wandered around, bought some touristy garbage, had some good food, and tried to recharge for tomorrow. Nice place to bring a date, and a nice rest from the road, but its time to go.

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January 16. 6:04pm.

We had a rough start to the day. The wifi wasn’t working at the hotel last night, and it switched on during breakfast. Starved for a little connection to loved ones and work responsibilities we were torn between getting on the road and answering emails. We left Hoi An around 7:00am. We made ok time, spent a few minutes on the dreaded 1A before crossing back inland toward the Ho Chi Minh Highway. Plan was to try to get into Laos, cross into Cambodia, and loop back into Vietnam to spend the night in Kom Tum. We don’t have visas for those countries, and our Vietnam visa is only for single entry, but we’re betting on the area being so remote that we can just cruise through. We made better time after a noodle lunch and got to the border around 3:00pm. We got a stamp that cancelled our Vietnamese visa, which made us a little nervous, and there was some bad noise about no papers for the bikes. They eventually got tired of trying to communicate with us while we smiled and pointed at Laos, and waved us through. I was pretty psyched, I didn’t think we’d get into Laos, and here we were, through one of three border crossings for the day. My enthusiasm was crushed when we rolled up on another border crossing a mile or so down the road. We weren’t in Laos, we were just out of Vietnam, in some sort of international no mans land. They weren’t hearing any of it at the Laos border, we couldn’t get the bikes in – period. With nothing else to do, we turned around and headed back to Vietnam. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us back in either. We had cancelled visas. They kept trying to send us back to Laos. What followed was a lot of standing around, pointing to Vietnam, some failed attempts to explain that we hadn’t actually left, and some more pointing. After an hour or so they figured out what was going on, and one of the guys covered an entire sheet of paper in Vietnamese writing. It took him 45 minutes, and when he was done he pushed it across the counter at us. He pointed at the bottom, motioning that someone had to sign. I felt like I’d seen this in a movie before, one of us was about to confess to 47 murders, immediately be handcuffed and jailed indefinitely. Our families would spend thousands of dollars over the next twenty years until we were finally freed, a shadow of the person we once were. Todd asked what it said, the guy just kept pointing. No way around this, someone would have to sign. No way was I going to be the guy going home while my friend rotted in a foreign prison, so I stepped up. I did what any sane person stuck in international purgatory between the borders of two third world countries having his passport held and being coerced into signing a document he has no way of understanding: I picked up the pen, and in my best cursive wrote “Daffy Duck.” The border guy picked it up, looked at it for a second, disappeared with the papers and came back with our passports. We grabbed them quick and headed for the border crossing. The guys let us through and 15 k later and we are at the BMC Hotel in Ngoc Hoi, with wifi, our freedom, and our passports.

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January 18. 6:15am.

Too tired to write last night. Too tired to write now to be honest. Yesterday was tough. Our romance with the Ho Chi Minh Highway is over. We saw two bad accidents, one with a chalk outline. Horrible. For breakfast we had sandwiches with fried egg, some kind of meat paste, cucumber, and coleslaw. Not bad. For lunch we had diesel fumes and dust. At least we are close to the end. I know these trips are supposed to be hard, but today wasn’t that fun. Just danger all day, and not much in the way of highlights.

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If you have a map of Vietnam, get it and open it up. There is a road from Buon Ho to Ea Kar. Scribble it out. There is no road there. If you tried to drive that way in a car, the car would be totaled. If you tried to ride it on a bicycle, you would get off and walk. We drove it on motorcycles and it was ridiculous. Sow going. Honestly it was the highlight of the day. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any white people. Everyone stares and points. We are looking pretty rough, insanely dirty and unshaven. No one here has much facial hair, a lot of people touch our faces. It’s worth it though, this is what it’s all about. Instead of seeing replicas of minority villages on a city tour, we are eating lunch in minority villages, where we’re the spectacle.

We are in M Drak. We drove this way because its near where Todd’s dad was stationed during the war. Last night we found where we think is the spot ne was shot, though a lot has probably changed in 40 years. Pretty cool to see the area though, and as rough of a day we had I’m sure it’s a breeze compared to what those guys were dealing with. At least no one is shooting at us.

6:33pm.

Today was rough. Worst road and worst traffic of the trip. Not much to say, dust, diesel, 12 long hard hours in the saddle. Words can not explain the traffic, in the first 20k after lunch we were run off the road by buses passing other buses on blind corners – twice. We actually high fived when we got to our

destination. My goal today was not to crash, mission accomplished. Everyone else’s goal was hot water and wifi, we got that too, sort of. Only 100 or so k from our destination. Tomorrow we’ll check out some tunnels left over from the war, and get to Saigon. We’re ready.

In “weird stuff on scooters news,” today: a woman breast feeding. I doubt we’ll top that.

One other note: restaurants in Vietnam suck compared to the stuff you can buy on the street. The most bizarre and delicious things I’ve ever eaten.

January 19. 6:39pm.

Done. 1,562 miles. We got up late. No one was excited about another noodle bowl breakfast. It’s the food that gets you. No sleep, being dirty, cold showers, long days on the bike, stressful traffic, but what rally gets to you is the food. To be fair, we’ve had great food on this trip, it was a highlight, it’s just after a while you want something familiar. I wandered down the street after breakfast. I found a pastry shop and bought anything that looked western. It wasn’t great, but it helped.

We drove 60 or so k to Chu Chi, to some tunnels that were used in the Vietnam war. It was awesome, but intense. We watched this propaganda film about American Devils from Hell and famous Hero American Killers, and then went down in some caves. Suffice to say they were not built for American size people. After a minor panic attack we left and went to a shooting range. We fired an M1, an AK47, an M16, and an M60. It was pretty fun. From there we were 50 or so k from the finish line. We headed into Saigon, the roads are 100 times better as you get closer, but the traffic is insane. I’ve never seen anything like it. It wasn’t super scary like the other places, it was pretty slow moving, but I did not know you could fit so many scooters on a road. Video doesn’t do it justice.

We dropped the bikes off, we are showering, and heading to dinner. Phew.

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