Travel Vietnam by motorbike, they said. It’s fun, they said. They are right! It definately is an adventure!
In Siem Reap I’ve met another bicycle enthusiast, Luis from Barcelona. Unfortunately he is not travelling with his bicylce, so he planned to travel Vietnam by motorbike. In Ho Chi Minh City we found two nice scooters with which we wanted to travel up the cost until we reach Da Nang. What to do with my fixed gear? Leave it at a bike shop in Ho Chi Minh City? No! Take it with me on the journey. We disassembled the bike, Luis strapped the frame on his Ortlieb messangerbag and I strapped the wheelset on my Chrome Kharkiv bag. Ready to go! After we got the bikes we decided that it’s too late to get far away. Therefore I cycled and Luis drove with his scooter around town. After 5km Luis had to stop, because his chain get off. The easiest way to get back to the shop? I pulled him with my fixed gear. I guess this was a funny picture, but luckily the shop owner just gave us a new motorbike.
First destination should have been Mui Né, a city at the coast. After roughly 50-60km we had to make our first unplanned stop. Luis had a flat back tire. Whatever, there are plenty of bike workshops at the side of the road, so it was quite easy to find somebody, who could repair that. Back on the track we had a good run, until it become dark. Already before that I realised my motorbike doesn’t have enough power as at the beginning and stuff like the honk weren’t working anymore. After a while the engine just tuned off and I had to stop. We tried everything, but it wouldn’t start again. What to do now? IT’s dark, all workshops are closed and we still have 30km to go. We parked the motorbike in a side road, I assembled my fixed gear and we rode to the next hotel. It shouldn’t be to difficult to find a workshop at the next morning to help us repair the motorbike. That’s what we thought. When we came back to that spot at the next day, the motorbike was gone. Obviously it was not stolen, because the guys from the shop next door explained me with hand and feet (no word of English) that it’s anywhere else. So I hopped on a scooter of one of the guys and he drove me to a house roughly 1km far away. My motorbike was there. But the house wasn’t a random one. It was the local police station. Explaning the officer that this bike is mine and that it has broken down the night before wasn’t so easy. Again no word of English. However with the rental bill, calling the bike rental in Ho Chi Minh and a lot of smiling convinced the police guys a little bit. I guess the money we gave them was also a good help to get my motorbike back. Afterwards we found a workshop, the guy changed the battery and we were back on the road.
After 150km my motorbike broke down again. Luckily it didn’t take much time to find another workshop. However, explaining the guy that it wouldn’t help, if he changes the battery again wasn’t so easy. We could convince him to charge the battery and find the problem. He worked on the bike but we couldn’t really understand what he was doing there. Whatever, it was running again. For how long? Roughly 100km. When we reached Nha Trang, our destination of the day, the engine turned off. Luckily, very close to the hostel.
So what to do now? We figured out, that the broken part might be the alternator. But should we rely on a bike, which already broke down three times? No way! The night before we already had this idea, that I can just cycle up to Da Nang. And that’s the plan for now. I’ve just prepared my fixed gear for the ride. To be faster, Luis will pull me a bit. This will be slower that with two motorbikes, but a.) it’s better to not use the shity motorbike again and b.) it’s gonna be fun!!! We will see what will happen. =)
This tour is definately a big adventure. And we still have a whole week on the road.