Saturday, 30 November 2013

Hoa Binh to Mai Chau

Sat 30/11/13, 72km

Earlish start albeit then slowed by coffee and breakfast and I was on the road. Nice and sunny to start with, almost immediately the road started to climb, which set the time for much of the day as did encountering hoards of young Vietnamese mostly in couples out in what looked like little gangs on their scooters. Hypothesising about this and having been told that Mai Chau is a local tourist spot I began to be a little concerned they were heading to the same place I was leaving no rooms at the inn. After watching them for a while I noticed they had little sigils on them, day glo rectangles or triangles on their helmets and mudguards. One group had small red flags a-fluttering from their handlebars.

I got to speak to some after a bit and they are little bands our on their scooters, off to Moc Chau as it's apparently regarded as an ideal season for some of the foliage, so not quite a mods and rockers scooter run then. This mollified my accommodation worries and allowed me to appreciate the beautiful scenery more because it was stunning, as scenery tends to be when you're on an almost constant 5 to 10% climb. The ride was punctuated by my scooter driving friends who enjoyed waving at the mad white guy on the bike and insisted, when I stopped at times to admire the view, on taking photos of and with me.

Eventually I crested a summit and lost most of the 1000 meters I'd climbed. I think most cycle tourers would agree that going downhill is not something one relishes as it means you have to make every bloody meter back again. Still, stunning view on the way!

When I finally got into town it transpired that not all those scooters were headed further on as the first four guesthouses I tried were full. The fifth though had room which was a relief. I'm just hoping all those folks will be heading back to Hanoi tomorrow, otherwise I may have the same plight then. We shall see.

And who else should turn up at the guesthouse but my recumbent riding French friends Stefan and Manu! We went out for food to a place that had offered me a special veggie feast! Egg soup, spring rolls, rice and mashed potatoes. Er... Yeah, that's special all right, just not in a good way.

Random photos below.


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