Weather: Sun and clouds
There was indeed a market the next day (Sunday). While not as colourful as I hoped, a large number of minority people were there selling their harvest and trading cows, water buffaloes, goats, pigs, chickens and dogs. I purchased some unknown pastries for breakfast and sat down at a café where the owner, as soon as I had been helped, proceeded to kill a chicken a couple of meters away. Business as usual.
Three liters of gas at a ripoff price later, I was going but not before stopping for a while to watch a cockfight. Once outside of town, I passed a field of cannabis and one or two minutes later I came face to face with one if not the most beautiful vista I have ever seen. The video linked in the previous post hinted that the road from Meo Vac to Dong Van as spectacular, but that was an understatement. I stopped for a good five minutes and admired this jaw-dropping scenery. With the exception of women, beauty rarely triggers a physical response in me but that was different. I’ll cut the description here and let the pictures speak for themselves.
Nothing afterwards would match the sights right outside of Meo Vac, but nonetheless it all ranked extremely high on the scale of awesomeness. With hairpin turns, loose surfaces and the odd truck or bus behind a curve, the driving was no piece of cake and required uninterrupted concentration. Because of the altitude and an improperly tuned carburetor causing backfires, my bike was struggling and on occasions, the second gear would slip back into neutral, but I was not too worried and made sure I stopped often to soak the view around me.
As I was climbing down, the scenery turned from rocky to green. Rice paddies, windy valley roads, little villages with children waving as I passed by, karst peaks and weird conical mounts, this day was the gift that kept on giving and to make things even better, car and trucks were few and far between. After all, they do recommend a 4×4 vehicle if you are to venture in these parts so its no wonder that it is a road not much traveled.
Around the end of the afternoon, I arrived in Ha Giang, the provincial capital and according to my reading of the Lonely planet, the gateway to these remote areas that were already behind me. The guide book stipulated that doing this circuit the way I did was not possible as travel permits to the border region could only be issued in this city and going further without one could result in very hefty fines. I’m lucky I got one made at my guesthouse and as a matter of fact, all foreigners on bikes that I saw were going the opposite direction. This truly was Vietnam’s last frontier. Now on a major highway, I took advantage of the remaining daylight to push it a little further to Viet Quang, which was 60 kilometers away. That stretch took me only an hour. I must have been going 80 all the time judging by the rate and force of flies and mosquitoes hitting me in the face (the odometer on my bike is non functional), a far cry from the 25-30 I was averaging in the mountains.
This day of motorcycling has taken all the other days in my riding career, has taken them outside and has given them a good spanking. This is my new 10 and I doubt I’ll be able to even match it in the near future. Amazing but now, my ass is severely sore from all the bumps and the sitting on the bike for many hour at a time.