Originally I had planned on breaking up the 290 kilometer drive from Cao Bang to Hanoi into two days but I was no ready to reach the capital and begin my pursuit of a buyer for my motorbike. The surrounding views and the ride itself along the road besides initially were unspectacular so I was able to cover a lot of ground quickly but the numbing cramped sensation of overriding became a bear on my behind. It was like a lazy man’s marathon trying to endure the pain and experience the sacrifice while barely using a muscle in my body with the exception of a flexed tush and an overly craned and revolving neck always paranoid of a pothole or yet another poor Asian driver. I did see some things on the road worthy of note. I drove slowly past a congested stretch of parked motorbikes on the side of the road as well as a parked bus and truck with all their occupants waiting just off the road as well. It was odd but not odd enough to give it a second thought until I saw what was next. On the side of the road I witnessed on my drive-by broken bits of a motorbike scattered on the road’s edge as well as the motorbike itself with some police officials mingling in the area. It got more peculiar when I saw a few men building some kind of temple, spiritual offering display; built along the guardrail were the same flowers, fruit, and incense candles being actively lit like any Asian home’s prayer corner. I can not say for certain but I have strong beliefs that I drove past the scene of a motorbike death which in a way o shouldn’t be surprised of yet I should when I consider how willingly that I have rode these same roads with these same asinine drivers. Riding a motorbike through Vietnam has been the greatest and dumbest thing that I have ever done during my travels. Later on when I got within striking distance of Hanoi, I saw a small trailer attached to a steadily moving motorbike housing a large hog likely cruising to its savory, bacon-laced death. I have seen innumerable animals and precarious cargo besides the usual sight of whole families strapped to a motorbike including a newborn baby wedged in between the man driving and his wife. In another instance I saw a pig carcass strapped over the back of a motorbike with no attachments such as a rope or an added hinge like the one I used to carry my luggage but instead the balanced weight of the limped mass proportioned to each side of the back seat of the bike. The rest of the road shoved so much shit in my face as I began to forcibly embrace the city life of undying traffic and dodgy motorbike interactions with locals. I got into Hanoi and checked into a hostel. Not until I looked into the mirror at my perceived sweaty existence did I realize how truly out of sorts I happened to be. With my face covered in a thick black and smeared soot as if I had just worked a double shift in the coal mines and hair raised into disarray like a mad scientist who just embraced his own created electrical bolts, I could only imagine what reception or even my fellow dorm mates must have thought when first encountering such a sight. After a wash of the face, I explored the food scene with Banh Bao steamed buns and a pho-like soup before going back to the hostel’s rooftop bar to meet and speak with Westerners for the first time in a while, which was slowly engaged experience for me being so used to the limited dialogue with locals as well as myself. I called it a night early after a long day of riding without enough visually inspiring scenery to overcome the pain and exhaustion.
Riding Vietnam Day 191: The Last Final Push to Hanoi