Motorbike Motorbike in Northern Vietnam Day 6 – Sa Pa to Điện Biên Phủ

Weather: Sunny
Departure: 12h30
Arrival: 21h30
Date: 16/04/14

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That morning, I made sure I touched plenty of wood for the repair we did the day before to hold. Pretty late already, I gave my farewell to Karen and Antoine and still thanked him many more times for his help fixing my bike. I made a stop at the ATM to get some more money, which could come in handy if I break down again and left town on the road I took the day before to the waterfalls. This time however, the weather was clear and the visibility was great, so I got to enjoy a completely different view from the clouded landscape of yesterday. I passed a truck that had tipped over (serves you right Vietnamese drivers) of which I would have loved to take a close-up picture but for respect for the poor guys who had to unload it by hand and the dude that is going to loose his job, I did not. The scenery got even more gorgeous on the other side of the pass, with high towering mountains and narrow valleys. How I love riding around in mountains …

Typical provincial town boulevard (empty)
Typical provincial town boulevard (empty)

The motorcycle’s engine was hiccuping and hesitating, but it was going and got better as I was lowering in altitude. The road was great and I was making good progress in spite of a hilly ride. I was especially looking forward to the way down south to Dien Bien Phu, where the road was following a river. Road along rivers are nice for three reasons, first they are generally flat, second they are pretty and third they are fun and windy. Once I got there though, I was disappointed to find that the road under construction. All of it, for a good 50 kilometers. Dust, mud, bump, gravel, stuck behind a loader. Shit, the route did follow the river and was generally flat but, it was no fun was lacking very much in prettiness.

I was putting the repairs to my air box under serious stress and it held on. Eventually, construction ended and I was again speeding up and down curves and avoiding herds of cows and water buffaloes. When night finally hit, I was in a medium size town but still a solid 50 kilometers away from my objective. Realistically, I had not hoped to get there in one day as it was a long way and I had left really late, but feeling that the bike may fail again tomorrow, I pushed through the clouds of bugs that come out a dusk to see if the road past the city was safe to ride on in the dark with a shitty headlight. It was, but I still had to take it very slow. Buffaloes, cows, pigs, children, dogs and chickens had gone to bed, but potholes never sleep.

Two hours afterwards, I was in Dien Bien Phu. Finding a guesthouse provided to be somewhat of a challenge. They were all booked and overcharging their free rooms apparently because of some festival. We’ll see what that is about tomorrow. For now, I’m fighting sleep to write this post and as soon as I’m done, I will collapse into a well deserved rest.

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