Back to Civilization - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

November 5, 2016

Back to Civilization

Neo to Hanoi

Dear little friends,

Sometimes I confuse the joy of leaving a place with the excitement of just the action of moving. We get up, take our showers, braid hair, apply sunscreen, steri-pen enough water for several water bottles, and all the million little chores that soon become the morning routine on a bike trip. The nha nghi bed was so hard we had our sleeping pads and sleeping bags to sleep on and a silk sheet (of ours) to sleep under, so it was just one step down from full-on tent camping. Lots of packing up to do.

Every nha nhgi should have an adorable tyke in the lobby.
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We had another careful map of our day planned but of course that went south right away. Our goal of avoiding the main highway led us first south of our secondary road, then along a canal, then suddenly we were out on a rough sandy road near a large river where a number of sand-extractive industries were working their way through what used to be natural riverbank.

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At one point we were in an area of both cemeteries and some derelict brick edifices that are either retired crematories or brick kilns, we just couldn’t determine. If any experts out there can educate us we’d love to know.

Cemetery with crematory/brick kilns and a fresh grave.
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Since of course we had gotten off of our mapped route, we had to point ourselves toward the highway or wander random roads for weeks. We rode along the top of a dike and it was a particularly disconsolate scene, the air seemed gray as we neared the city, furnished by cranes and rusty sand barges and huge faroff industrial complexes looming out of the rice fields.

Off-track in the right direction.
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Along the dike.
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Looking down on a gray-ish village we saw an old church with a missing roof, presumably lost in bombing during the war and not replaced by the communist government. Plants sprouted from the remaining bell tower and nave. Small children running along the dike path provided the only color and life in the scene. The youngest fell down and hurt his knee and his father picked him up and cradled him as they followed the faster ones.

Still standing at both ends, this church was probably bombed during the war.
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We were ready to face the highway and power into Hanoi. After a bun cha stop in Bac Ninh, then a coffee stop in Bac Ninh, we rode like the wind in the wide shoulder where you still have to be ultra-alert to motorbikes, parked buses and trucks, and various debris left wherever its former owner had jettisoned it.

Saved by bun cha in Bac Ninh.
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A temple door in Bac Ninh. The opening in the structure out front is for burning incense or paper offerings.
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A coffee shop with "aucostic" music.
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Approaching the city we once again ditched our original route for the simple reason that the vast majority of motorbikes were taking a certain road and it seemed like maybe we should also, and this was correct. We were nearing the railroad/motorbike bridge, nearly there, when we screeched to a halt as a coconut stand appeared. That was a good move. As one of our faithful readers, Steve Hoge, is fond of reminding us, coconut juice is full of electrolytes.

Electrolyte stop before the big finish into Hanoi.
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Yeah, baby.
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We entered the fray in Hanoi in pretty good form, did a bit of backtracking but found our hotel where we would be staying for the next few days. There were days of rain on the horizon, we wanted to rest and catch up on the blog, watch the election, and visit with some people we know who would be here at the same time. Our foray to the northeast, though modest in scale (see the RACPATs journal for the REAL Northeast) was successful and fun, a great introduction to rural Vietnam. We can hardly wait to see more.

Adorable sign alert! Too bad nobody follows it.
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Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 233 miles (375 km)

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