Not unhappy to leave Dien Bien Phu, I woke up late anyway due to a couple hours spent awake in my bed with a mind that would not shut down. After a coffee and an apple, I set out on the road. The city lays in a heart shaped valley, but was surrounded by mountains and as soon as I hit them, I was back in motorcycle heaven with great views and windy roads. Bus and truck traffic was denser than before due to increasing proximity to Ha Noi but otherwise nothing really to complain about.
Around the middle of the afternoon, I hit a densely populated plain on which circulating no longer was fun so I pushed the handle down to get to my destination as fast as I could in spite of my motorcycle now having a definitive engine compression problem. At one point I passed a four foreigner pack taking a break at a road side stall and figuring they must have come from the capital, one kilometer further I decided to turn around and go ask them if they new a nice place to spend the night in the direction I was going in.
They were actually coming from Sa Pa and were going to Moc Chau, my intended stop for the night and were nice enough to let me join their crew formed of two Norwegians, a Spanish and a Dutch. Great, I had not really tried the convoy thing so far and had been alone riding since the beginning so I decided to tag along. With five though, the logistics become more complex, everyone wants to go at a different speed, not every bike is capable of the same performances ans worst, the chances of a breakdown are dramatically increased. Unsurprisingly one Norwegian was having issues with his engine and had to take it slow. His bike, a proper lemon, had had his transmission swapped two days ago and was still acting up. Not long afterwards, the Dutchman’s luggage rack broke and sent his backpack trailing behind him on the road.
Eventually, we arrived in Moc Chau and checked in a three star hotel one dude had scouted for us. We were all quite stunned by him picking such a fancy place, but the prices were okay, the breakfast included and we managed to negotiate a couple of free beers with the rooms. While the rest of the group was at the mechanic to get their bikes checked, me and Sjef, the Dutch shared a discussion around our well deserved brews. Afterwards, we linked up with the others and went out into town for supper at a proper Vietnamese restaurant, which provided us with a nice feast and many drinks – some courtesy of the District Director – at a very reasonable price.
Tomorrow, the Spanish and the Norwegians are heading to Ha Long bay while Sjef is leaving first thing in the morning for Ha Noi to have his bike serviced before his journey to the south of the country. As for myself, I’ve got one day to spare so I might take the long way to the capital or find another destination in between.