HTML From Blog Template Moto-Hike: Run From The Sun: Piles Of News

Friday, October 28, 2005


Piles Of News

Life is beautiful things are great, the Prime Minister has given us our bikes back, god rest his soul, he is not dead that was Ho Chi Minh. I keep getting them mixed up, bless them both.............. they are great. In fact Ho Chi Minh is in Russia on holiday at the moment, removed from his tomb and taken on a tour of ze Rushka, he should have gone to Hong Kong to the New Disney World I feel, get some colour in those cheeks of his.

We are both in great spirits having just travelled the first 1,200km of our trip from Hanoi to De Lat over the newly formed Ho Chi Minh Highway, leaving the tourists to trail down the coastal route we decided to go native and get some jungle action. We had a great and very speedily organised send off by SOS Children's Villages in Hanoi, hopefully they were not too scared by the sweat that poured off us both in the blistering heat. The children aged between 3 and 6 met us at the gates to their village with dozens of red roses that got planted all over our bikes. Chris somehow got more than me I put it down to his height and they were less terrified..........or they simply liked him a lot more.

Anyway we spent a couple of hours playing with the orphans and letting them sit our bikes. The 'mothers' of the orphans, of which there were 14, were fantastic and a pleasure to talk to, as were the staff/directors who have been an enormous help to us since we arrived.

The first days ride was great a bit of off-roading and a chance encounter with an elephant, who's admirers stole all our newly acquired roses (surely to give them a better home than we could provide).

Day two was epic, from the map it looked like we could make De Lat in the South within 4 days, but when we were told the road hadn't quite been opened yet we figured a formality or a ribbon cutting ceremony was all that stood from commercial traffic using the route, not (as we found) the 40KM of road that hadn't actually been built yet! The mud came up past our knees in some places, nothing could get through. We lost count of how many times we wiped out. The bikes were a nice browny red colour from-all the clay and we looked like a pair of swamp creatures.

Visions of our trial's in Wales came flooding back with Chris' mental aversion to riding in mud it was torturous and very slow going. After a particularly difficult section that involved a lot of picking the bikes out of the mud only to drop them 10ft up the road we were welcomed into a local man's house to have a drink and a bite to eat...... a real relief from the heat and the exhaustion of the day.

Unknown to us we had stepped into a madman's house, a guy so intent on getting us pissed and making us stay that I still have the marks on my arms from him pinching me and wrestling me to the floor. Whilst his family looked on in mild amusement (I don't think it was the first time they had seen their father behave like a lunatic) we were force fed rice wine. The only resemblance it bears to wine is that it comes in a bottle and is wet. After 9 shots of this stuff we were drunk and were in real danger of staying here for the rest of our lives (which would have been cut short in the middle of the night by a machete wielding Vietcong)

The past three shots had been flung over my shoulder through the open window, Chris was not as fortunate and his eyes were beginning to focus on his nose....... this couldn't last, crazy man had cottoned on to what I was doing and was watching me drink this stuff, which now had pickled wasps in......... Chris ate his wasp merrily. I grabbed the bottle and threw the whole lot out the window, not the best thing to do when you are a guest but we were out of options. Unperturbed our host grabbed a microphone and started singing Karaoke. I kept him entertained whilst Chris sneaked off and got his bike ready. Phase 1 of our escape was complete after 40 minutes of the very drunk and violent man screaming Vietnamese love ballards and leaping around accompanied by my loud, but incoherent attempts to sing along. I escaped, but not before he had turned my engine off 3 times and dug his nails in to a few more unprotected fleshy parts of my arm. Chris found out as we were leaving our host was the local policeman...... figures.

We didn't get very far that afternoon....... we do not recommend drink driving but the mud did seem to take on a whole different texture almost like gravy and I enjoyed sliding through it wondering where the hell we were and how many spokes I had on my front wheel. We made camp at the bottom of a gravy hill with a huge truck blocking the path, it was 2 hours before it eventually got pulled out by a cement mixer with a JCB pushing it. We had the company of what seemed to be 3 gay construction workers and a fire. With a belly full of noodles we slept in our tent bang in the middle of the Ho Chi Minh highway satisfied and exhausted.

After the mud we hit the rain, we were heading to Khe Sahn, home of what was the biggest American Marine base in the Vietnam war in 1968. The rain was so heavy it was bouncing 2 ft off the tarmac...... we were back on the trail at least. The rain was so heavy we couldn't find the base and slept in a rustic hostel instead.
3 days of heavy rain was not good and we passed by Hamburger Hill, The Glory Zone and Rocket Ridge without being able to see much except the occasional low flying chicken/pig/child, only coming to a complete halt for mud slides and wandering Buffalo. We were averaging about 6 hours in the saddle and 10 hours on the road every day which took its toll.
Having no arse does not help and ended up stuffing my pillow down my trouses, to cope with the 180 degree turns we were making on every corner through the mountains.

Arriving in Da Lat was breathtaking, like in the alps the road snakes its way up to a very pretty town. We were greated by a guy who told us the route we had taken was closed to tourists because of 'trouble's......' we came to the conclusion he was talking bollocks after secretly being quite impressed with ourselves for our intrepid ways.

We touched base with SOS and organised to come back the next day at 4:00. Once in our Hotel I touched my base and realised my worst nightmare........... grapes, farmer Giles...... Haemorrhoids.....dreadful piles! or to be more accurate, pile. Our diligence on the first aid kit has paid off (the 5 P's - Proper Preperation Prevents Painful Piles) and Anusol has come into play so has lying on my front. I shiver to think what might happen to my bottom over the next 23, this space.

Turning up to the orphanage/village on newly jet washed bikes we were met by a dragon, several clowns, 3 four year olds in pink shirts and dickey bows, 6 girls dressed as kings, 1princess, 2 clouds and 2 suns.

I stalled my bike and dropped my helmet making our impressive big entrance.......... We sang some songs played some games, neither of us could figure out the rules to, then danced for 80 kids in a dragon outfit within the first 20 minutes.

We were then ushered into a small hall for lots of speeches and more singing and dancing. It was overwhelming, the amount of preparation and effort the children had gone to to welcome the two of us, every single performance was fantastic, I felt like a proud parent watching their child in a school play. We found out a lot about the kids and the life that SOS provides for them, they are all without exception wonderfully happy, cheerful and hardworking kids. It was easy to forget what circumstances led them to be living here but with amazing care and support they are having the childhood any child their age deserves.

Speaking to one small boy he said it was sad I only had one sister, he had 38! I agreed but them imagined growing up with 38 of my sisters!!!

A huge thank you to Mr Co the director of the village, Mrs Won secretary/translator and Anna from SOS Kinderdorf International in Austria. It was certainly the highlight of our trip so far.

Next stop Cambodia.................


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