Trying to get to sleep early, will add pictures/more Stories/Claire Details at a later date
We have been having too much fun to write, dear readers, but I'll fill you in with the highlights.
Day 15 - Growth Experiences
The rain set in! We rode 70km to Hue. After the long day before, we laughed at the idea of 70km, got up super early, and hoped to have arrived by noon, to meet Claire's friend from London, Pippa, and her friend, Mark.
Of course, both of us wet and dirty on the road, I had a tire puncture. We were shooed away from one bus station, and allowed to set up shop next door in a "Ca Phe". I confidently took the rear wheel off, found the puncture in the tire, tried to patch it (failed), put a new tube on, re-inflated, and re-installed. A quick 30 minutes. All the while walking Claire through the steps.
Of course, I left out looking for the piece of glass still in the tire that punctured the tube. Because I'm smart.
So 500 yards later, at a real bus station, the tube pops again.
Pull in, find out there is a bus in 2 hours that will take our bikes, and pass the time by patching the newly punctured tire.
With a renewed eye for detail, I quickly found the offending glass shard, patched the tube (correctly this time), and had the bike fixed up.
Not a moment too soon, as a local helpful man drove up and convinced the bus station staff the bus wouldn't take our bikes when it came, but that he could drive us with our bikes for 100x markup. So we rode out the last 30km and arrived around 3pm, drenched and smelly. Not bad!
That night we met up with Mark and Pippa, and had an awesome dinner followed by drunken night on the town. Tons of fun, Hue seems great, would go again. Bought bus tickets to Hoi An, as we wanted to get as much Timmins time in as possible, and the 110km ride with a huge mountain (though apparently beautiful in sunshine)pass in the middle, while being poured on, did not sound fun. Woke up, wandered around Hue a little, got on the bus, and got to Hoi An on the 25th.
Arrived on the evening of the 25th, and, for the record, bicycled 5 whole kilometers from the bus station to the hotel (without our bags). Rough times.
Totally awesome, chilled here from the 25th to the 30th. Hung out with Mark and Pippa, met up with the Timmins and had a wonderful time, and I finally had my minimalist packing bag filled with the last magic item, a tuxedo, which has been a goal for a while. Claire got an awesome new custom made jacket with tails for her magic performances as well! After a few days in a row of drinking, we took the 29th off for logistics and hydration.
Important to mention about Hoi An - the food there was incredible. Some of the best Bahn My we've had anywhere (tons of pate on the sandwiches here), amazing local noodles (Cao Lao, to die for!), great beachside restaurants, cozy old city restaurants, awesome street food... and all of it wonderfully cheap.
To the Mountains
This morning we left the comfort of Hoi An to head for the mountains along the Lao Border. An awesome 65km ride inland, mostly following a river, to the tiny crossroads of Thanh My. One nice hill at the end to prepare us for tomorrow, which is going to start 4 insane days of mountain riding, from which a great deal of yelling and character building will rise. Tomorrow is our shortest day in a while, 57km, but it is going to have the most elevation gain of anything we've done yet!
Sadly, our Vietnam time is coming to an end. We will ride till March 4th, and find a bus to Ho Chi Minh, where the bikes will get sold and Claire and I will part ways. I'm excited to have the most challenging/rewarding days ahead of us to distract us from the end!
Dong Ha to Hue (Day 15)
Hoi An Hotel (Day 16)
Hoi An to Thanh My (Day 21)