My Motorbike Is Not For Sale…YET! (Part 11)
Ryan and I are back on the road, but taking it easy because his last trip ended in a traumatic crash when the front tire fell off his motorcycle, flipping him over the handle bars and leaving him to heal his road rash wounds for almost a month in a $4 a night hostel bed. Then came the realization that his hand-me-down bike couldn’t exceed a speed of 40km/h because he didn’t have it checked out by a mechanic before we left Hanoi.
We stopped in a small town outside of Hanoi to look at Google Maps. His free bike was an absolute junker and stalled out while we looked at the map. The electric start was dead and Ryan had to kick start it. Of course, the kick starter breaks. I drive around looking for a bike mechanic. It’s asinine it takes this long because usually there is a bike mechanic in every direction you look. Ryan pushes his motorcycle for 30 minutes before we run into another guy pushing a scooter down the road who points us in the direction of a mechanic who didn’t have a sign in front of his "shop" aka house. Thankfully, the fix was easy and we were back on the road in less than 10 minutes.
We were getting out of the flat lands and into the mountain climb portion of the drive. My bike is primed and ready for the mountains. WhoDey (my bikes name) wants to go fast up the hills, but Ryan can’t keep up and I feel awful driving too far ahead in case he breaks down. His bike is shaking and can barely climb the mountain. My patience is growing really thin with Ryan’s bike. He feels even worse for holding me back and keeps apologizing every time he catches up to me when I stop. I’m starting to think when we get to Cao Bang that we end up going our separate ways because I will pull my hair out at this rate. The views as we keep climbing are getting impressive and I’m telling myself to practice my patience. This has always been a characteristic of mine needing improvement. I decide I’ll use this experience as a chance to work on myself.
We turn a corner and out of nowhere there are two rainbows in the sky. My mom would love this because she believes a rainbow signifies a recently deceased loved one is telling you they are okay from heaven. I send my mom a photo to let her know that Wes (read Part 9) and Allie were happy together in heaven.
The sun is setting, we have covered 250kms (155 miles) today and we get into Cao Bang just as it’s getting dark. We stop at a hotel and the owner tells us we can only stay one night. We go grab dinner next door and come back after deciding to move to a place where we can stay two nights. The owner is drunk and tells us we can’t have our passports back unless we pay 100,000 dong ($4.50). We tell him that we didn’t even stay in the room and he’s being ridiculous. Neither of us are in the mood to be ripped off. He calls someone who I’m thinking might be his muscle. Turns out it was a girl who came and calmed him down. We get our passports back without having to pay and he apologizes to us under pressure from his girlfriend. We pack up our motorcycles and drive across town.
When we wake up we take Ryan’s bike to a mechanic. The mechanic says something along the lines of rebuilding the engine. Or at least we think since he didn’t speak English and Google Translate wasn’t picking up a good translation. Ryan's cost for his free bike just jumped to 600,000 dong or $26.40. Not all that bad considering in the States I’m pretty sure an engine rebuild on this bike would have meant it goes to the scrap pile. But in Vietnam you can repair any motorbike for almost nothing.
Ryan and I catch the bus to the Ban Gioc Waterfall while his bike gets repaired. The view from the Vietnamese side is very underwhelming. Based on the photos and videos we’ve seen online there is something missing. We heard you can “sneak” into China for a better view. We look up details on how to sneak into China, but there isn’t much floating around the interwebs. I look at Google Maps and notice a rode that dead ends into the river. "There must be a bridge there" I tell Ryan. We are running low on time and it’s about an hour walk. The last bus leaves in 2.5 hours to go back to Cao Bang. If the bridge isn’t there than we are stuck with a bad taste in our mouth. We walk in the blazing hot sun for an hour only to find out that my hunch was right! There is a bridge and we can cross the river.
There is not much in the way of border security and we were in China without trouble. It felt safe, but I can imagine if something did go awry and we got questioned by Chinese authorities we would not be in a good position. We made sure to give friendly hellos to everyone we saw and acted like we belonged there. We discussed a theory that there was an imaginary bubble country around us we called “Bri’Merica!" A combination of Ryan's homeland of Great Britain and my homeland of America. If anyone tried to arrest us we would just tell them they can’t enter the Bri’Merica bubble without a Visa first. Yea, we both knew it wouldn’t work. We aren’t idiots, but we had a lot of walking time on our hands to think out some fun theories.
We could have sat in Vietnam at a rice restaurant and been disappointed with the day. Instead, we adventured into a new country and got to view one of the most spectacular views Planet Earth has to offer. We walked back to Vietnam without a hitch, grabbed a quick rice lunch and jumped on the last bus just in time before it left back to Cao Bang.
We walked back to Vietnam without a hitch, grabbed a quick rice lunch and jumped on the last bus just in time before it left back to Cao Bang.