2 motorbikes, 6 days, 350 km driven, endless mountains climbed, 2 exhausted backpackers.
Beautiful as it was, we were ready to hand back in our bikes and have a little R&R in Hanoi.
From Meo Vac, we rode to Du Gia, which was in itself a spectacular ride, with mountains jutting out at very steep angles, different from what we had seen before. Du Gia is lower in altitude than what we had been at, so it was starting to get warmer ( around 23 degrees probably) instead of the 15-20 degrees that we had been used to for most of the loop. This is where we had our waterfall adventure (read previous post for more on that) and spent the night on a mattress on the floor of another homestay.
Homestays are pretty much the only option on the loop. Essentially people have parts of their homes converted into dorm style rooms, or private rooms. They offer “family dinner” where all the guests can eat together and the food was the same everywhere we went: spring rolls, some sort of fatty meat, a leafy green thing, eggs, some potato, maybe tofu or beans, and a big bowl of rice. All very, very oily.
The other thing that they have in common, at least the ones we stayed at, was someone blasting karaoke. Either in the house, or next door. Every – single – one. (except our mud hut). Nothing lowers your spirits more than trying to sleep while some off pitch Vietnamese man tries to do his best Mariah Carey impression. Ear plugs do nothing. On our last night it was right below us, and it shook the floor and the walls. There was no avoiding it. So we joined in and sang a duet trying to read the Vietnamese words as they scrolled across the screen. Our off key voices joining in preventing travelers from sleeping.
And then there are the termites. If the karaoke doesn’t keep you up, then the gnawing of little bugs eating away at the wooden structure you’re sleeping on will. One day those karaoke reverberations are going to shake the termite ridden structure just enough and it will collapse. Try not to think of that when you’re going to sleep in it.
The Vietnamese also seem to have a liking for rock hard beds. You’re basically sleeping on styrofoam. You can stand on it and you don’t even sink in the slightest.
The ride back from Du Gia to Ha Giang was a rough one. Most people will back track and not complete the loop fully, but we were gung ho to do so. It was a mistake. A very rough and dusty road filled with big dump trucks was how we ended the loop. 70 km took us 6 hours and we arrived back in Ha Giang looking like dusty, exhausted, ghosts.
Overall, the loop was filled with amazing experiences, beautiful views and tons of excitement and stories. We want to give a realistic idea of what we’re doing, and that means including some stories of the more difficult things we experience.
As I write this though, we are treating ourselves to a nice hotel in Hanoi, with a real bed that you can sink into, and a bathroom not filled with spiders and other people’s hair. It’s the simple things in life.