As soon as I woke up, I headed for the ATM to withdraw the necessary funds and took possession of my steed, a Honda Win 100. Not very trusty, its got the brand of a reliable Japanese company but has been entirely made somewhere else in Asia using the cheapest part possible. The shop had three available. I test rode them all and settled for the one they had been fixing the night before, still a piece of junk but less so than the others. So I left Hanoi in the beginning of the afternoon and soon found myself between speeding trucks and buses in the suburbs and then the satellite towns. Not a whole lot of fun, but this was the route that the shop had recommended so I kept to it and this being a very populated area of Vietnam, traffic was to be expected. I had a map but no real destination. I would just see how far I could make as I had no experience in this region and as I know very well, the sense of distance can be severely distorted in countries like this.
Soon enough a drizzle which would accompany me to the rest of my day started. Nothing too serious, as is the case with this type of rain, there is often a speed at which you dry as fast as you get wet. The problem was the mud, especially on stretches under construction. I pushed on anyway and around half-way the road became smaller and started winding its way down valleys while the traffic subsided. Finally, I arrived at my destination as the sun was letting out its last rays of light. Bac Kan, a mid-size provincial town. I saw no hotel signs but soon figured out that all these “Nhà Nghỉ” signs must be what I was looking for. And they were (guesthouse in Vietnamese).
I got my bike inside the lobby, went up to my room to clean up the mud from my pants and face and headed back down for a bite. My hosts did not speak a word of English and nor did the waiters at the restaurant. There, a family was having a party and the kids, once they had spotted my strange face, got fascinated by my looks and started congregating around me and touch me. Chances are they had never seen a foreigner. They knew “hello” but all my attempts at speaking French to them would result in the group bursting into hysterical laughter, mockeries and finger pointing: “Look at this guy, he can’t even speak!”. The rest of night was spent working and blogging alone in my room. Kids can be so cruel :)