Monday, 8 November 2010

Battling bandits on the Ho Chi Minh Hwy.

Our bikes are a little nicer than these. But not much.

Angela was happy though her bum might have not been after riding on this road.

Ross is all "game face" after our morning stretch routine.

Water buffaloes are incredible at posing for photos.

Pierre looks...amazing (?) in spandex.

On the beach at Tinh Gia.

Just outside Do Luong.

"Beetroot lady"

Quintessential Vietnam.

It’s now been a week. A mere seven nights ago we were in Hanoi. Now we find ourselves in Huong Khe, along the Ho Chi Minh Highway, formerly, of course, the Ho Chi Minh Trail. We’re somewhere in the skinny part of the country and after spending a night on the beach in a semi-abandoned ghost resort, we headed straight west on Day 5.

Yesterday we began the day (number 6) heading further west from Do Luong, till we ran into the Ho Chi Minh Hwy. junction. If only it had been that simple. I was the last one out of the town and instinctively turned left at a four-way leading out of Do Luong. Both vans sped up to me, pulled me over and told me I was going to the wrong way. I wasn’t so convinced but relented and followed them. The distressing déjà vu feeling persisted and I double-checked with them, but they insisted we were heading the correct way. Just moments later, I hit a bump and my chain came off. I was riding Abigail’s one-speed bike (rigged up by Colin) since it was quite a hilly day (And we figured the day would go quicker for both of us if I rode the bike.). Anyway, I finally caught up with the others who were stopped and after a pow-wow with the van drivers we determined we were in fact heading the wrong way.

Ultimately, we got sorted out though basically wasting an hour or two (after we’d started earlier to account for the longer day). Traffic along the highway was light and the scenery sublime. Undulating, terraced lush hills and smiley, waving people. Water buffalo grazing and relaxing in muddy rivers. Shimmering rivers. Roads covered with hay. Fields and fields with conical hats popping up here and there. Families of goats scampering about. And quiet. Let me repeat: quiet! Ahh, the serenity.

However, that serenty was somewhat unsettled by some news Phong shared. Our Ford Everest driver, Mr. Chien, told Phong that we should ride in groups of four to five. Why? Well…since we were fairly close to the Laotian border we should be vigilant of bandits. Yes, bandits! I’m not sure whether these bandits are kidnappers or thieves or whatever, but I’d prefer not to find out (Though I’ll admit I’m a bit curious and have started carrying my pocketknife.). What the hell does a Laotian bandit look like!?

Today, most of us slept in with dreams of bandidos and departed an hour later since we had a relaxed day – just 52km. Huong Khe is a cute town indistinct from any other town except it has a lake in the center. Sasha led us in creating friendship bracelets as our “cultural event” of the night so now we’re quite tied (zing!) to each other even more. It’s back on the Ho Chi Minh Highway tomorrow to Dong Le.



  1. Don't forget that Huong Khe is good for awesome dance parties, human boomboxes, and beer!


  2. The entrance to the Bac Ho statue was locked! Apparently the white people desecrated it too much with their awesome dance parties, human boomboxes and beer the prior year...!