My Motorbike Is Not For Sale…YET! (Part 10 – Hanoi with the Breakdown Bandits)

My Motorbike Is Not For Sale…YET! (Part 10)

I went back to the house where my bike was parked.  Packed it up and realized quickly it was going to be a rough day after that night at Mama Ti’s.  I almost lost my balance and ditched the motorcycle pulling out of the creek I had to drive through to get back on the road.  One of the villagers saw the look on my face and helped me push the bike back on the road.  She pointed down the road where she saw three other guys with the same looks on their faces.  And that’s when I got my introduction into the Breakdown Bandits.  Jack, Josh and Robbo had all warned me that their bikes breakdown a lot.  Less than a km into the day Josh’s bike needed a new rear brake.  So, we all sat down on the tiny Vietnamese chairs inside the mechanic’s shop as he replaced the brake. 

We were on the road again by 1:00pm.  We decided to take the shortest route to Hanoi since it was too late in the day to take the more scenic route.  The roads were pretty good driving and the rain was staying away.  The only issue we had on this day was finding something to eat for lunch.  I think we stopped at 8 different restaurants to eat and all of them said they weren’t serving food.  It must have been painted on our faces the night we had at Mama Ti’s and no one wanted to have us near their establishments.  Eventually we settled on buying some plain banh (bread) from a local baker before driving to the closest town (Pho Rang) we could find a hotel to crash for the night.  Thankfully Pho Rang had a restaurant that was willing to serve us dinner.  We called it an early night so we could hit the road to Hanoi early in the morning.

Two sisters who were so shy around us when we stopped in their parents store for a soda.

Two sisters who were so shy around us when we stopped in their parents store for a soda.

1 motorbike, 1 adult and 6 children without helmets.  Survival of the fittest/luckiest in Vietnam!

1 motorbike, 1 adult and 6 children without helmets.  Survival of the fittest/luckiest in Vietnam!

The road to Hanoi the next day was easy going.  We stayed just in front of a rain storm all day.  Every time we stopped, it would catch up and we would put our rain gear back on only to stop and take it off 5 minutes later.  We did stop in a town with the best Banh My (aka Banh Mi in the South) in all of Vietnam as the owner loaded each one with Western size portions of meat.  This is a rarity here and on top of that the cost was less than $0.50 USD at a price of 10,000 dong each.  We made it to Hanoi without incident.  Maybe I was the good luck bandit!

Jack enjoying his "Best Banh Mi in Vietnam!"

Jack enjoying his "Best Banh Mi in Vietnam!"

In Hanoi, we met up with another Breakdown Bandit (Ryan) who had spent the last 3 weeks healing wounds from a nasty bike crash when his front tire fell off.  The next morning, we headed off towards a local sports pub to go watch the rugby rubber match between England (Jack, Josh & Ryan’s home country) and New Zealand (Robbo’s home country).  The guys spent some time filling me in on the rules and explaining plays while recruiting me to cheer for their squads.  The match was intense and there were a lot of ups and downs, but when regulation time ran out the score was tied.  The series was 1-1 before this match and what do they do?  They end the match in a tie anyways as this was more of a friendly series than it was a championship.  I’ve never seen a sports bar full of fans go so quiet in my life.  The tie sucked all the energy out of the room and everyone quietly walked out.  Not even the drunks in the crowd could muster up anything to get loud about.

Balloon salesmen at one of the busiest roundabouts in Hanoi

Balloon salesmen at one of the busiest roundabouts in Hanoi

I spent the next couple of days in bed with a nasty body flu and strep throat.  I went to a local pharmacy, gave them a list of drugs (ibuprofen & amoxicillin) and for $4 I was on the mend.  Robbo, Josh and Jack were off to Cambodia and sold their bikes.  Ryan had acquired a free motorcycle on Facebook by telling his story to the owner who received the motorbike for free.  The deal was when he finished riding the bike that he had to give it away to another adventurist who needed a free motorcycle.

A local neighborhood grocery store in the streets of Hanoi

A local neighborhood grocery store in the streets of Hanoi

Ryan and I decided we would join forces and finish the Northern loop of Vietnam together.  I had some points with Hilton and booked us a room at their Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi location.  The room was a dream after staying in budget homestays and hotels for the past couple of weeks.  The all you can eat breakfast buffet was worth every penny of my 10,000 points to book that room.

Ryan and I felt refreshed and ready to hit the road.  We needed to stop at a gas station on the way out of town.  I thought this would be no issue, but after 15 minutes of driving we hadn’t passed one and of course Ryan’s bike runs out of gas.  We are 1.5km from a gas station so I run and get gas for Ryan, but his bike won’t restart.  Oh no, here we go again.  Thankfully we were 25 feet from a mechanic. We rolled the bike over and a few minutes later with a new spark plug we are back on the road again towards Cao Bang.

This train runs from North Vietnam to South Vietnam & passes right though this neighborhood.

This train runs from North Vietnam to South Vietnam & passes right though this neighborhood.

I have a fascination with the way people across the world sleep in busy public places like Hanoi.

I have a fascination with the way people across the world sleep in busy public places like Hanoi.