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Day 13 June 20

Vinh, Vietnam

A Day 13. June 20

Very much a 13th day with several incidents of bad luck and unfunny stuff happening.
This morning I left Dong Hoi at 6:30 am. I was up early and never unloaded the bike at the hotel so I just had to pack my toiletries and get dressed and out the door. I rode for an hour and stopped for coffee at a very busy sidewalk shop which was between a Honda Dealership and a Yamaha Dealership. It looked like the salesmen and a few mechanics from both shops were swapping gossip before work. When I arrived I was the center of attention. It is hard to get used to the stares, but they seemed friendly enough and there were smiles as well. I heard someone say My which means American.
I ordered coffee and an older gentleman at a table near the back gestured that I could sit with him. At first I thought he might be the owner because he was sitting with the young man who worked there so I thanked him and sat and he poured me some tea from the pot on the table. We didn't chat, just sipped our tea and after my coffee was served he paid for his drink and shook my hand warmly and gave a "good morning" greeting and left. I shifted chairs to sit with a view towards the street and I saw a man from the front table by my bike and then the bike was over on its side and the man was gesturing to me. I picked it back up while he sat down with his buddies and watched. The clutch handle was hanging off broken at the stem. I shoved it back into place and there was enough stem on it so the clutch cable tension kept it in place and working. Also the left turn signal housing was damaged.
It was clear that I wasn't going to have someone step up and be responsible so I smiled and went back to my coffee. You can bet that if I knocked over a bike there would be hell to pay!
I paid and left soon after with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and not from the coffee which was excellent- too bad.
Then it was back to the ride, still 150 kilometers to go! Riding consists of three speeds mostly: third gear thru town and traffic, sometimes second briefly around road construction and bad congestion. I was also in second while I was part of a kilometer long parade of bikes with everyone flying a Vietnamese flag. A Police car with lights flashing led that, no clue what it was about!
Most of the time you are in fourth, Top Gear, either cruising at around 50 kph when cars or trucks are close or running almost flat out, up to 70 plus kph in the wide open areas with light traffic. The bike is very responsive and decelerates quickly when you back off the throttle or downshift to engine brake. Because of the wide areas for bikes on the shoulder you can pass slow traffic on the right or the left making sure to leave yourself a reasonable out left or right. So you ride with traffic, pass traffic or are being passed 75% of the time. You also need to watch for the traffic passing in the oncoming direction especially around bottlenecks like construction zones and hills. So you are too busy on the bike to take good looks at the scenery and you really appreciate the times when it is wide open and you can take a look around. The rhythm of the drive can be fun as well with the weaving and mixing with the traffic, but you need a break every couple of hours at least.
At my next break I pulled over to an umbrella shaded area where a sugar drink machine was. They use the machine to press the slim canes and mix in juice as well. The young man who made it set it on the small plastic table while I was walking around stretching my legs and when I went to sit down I kicked the table and most of my drink went to the concrete! More 13th day woes!! I tried to ask for another, but sadly couldn't get my point across, so I sipped the quarter cup that was left and ate the ice. A young man at another table chatted with me briefly before his friends joined him. I sat for awhile just getting my focus back and then headed to the bike. I pushed the electric start and it turned over but wouldn't start. I tried this a couple of times and then checked the gas tank- it was empty! I thought I had at least another 50 k left but the bike had other ideas I guess. The young man I had spoken with was leaving so I asked him if he knew where the nearest gas station was. He kindly pushed my bike with his and took me down the road out of his way I am sure to help me out! Finally a good omen. Filled up for 200,000 VND and back on the road with 80 k remaining. The rest of the trip was uneventful but very dusty and dirty with approximately 30 k of road construction passed through today so I was glad I wore the surgical mask.
Made it to the town of Vinh by noon and done for the day!
I will hunker down inside today and let Day 14 get me a little closer to the Top Gear Challenge end in Hao Lon Bay!

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on June 20, 2013 from Vinh, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Top Gear Adventure 2- Vietnam Boogaloo!
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Previous: Day 12 Hue to Dong Hoi, June 19 Next: Day 14 June 21, The Accident

Mike_Veine Mike_Veine
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I am a Yank retiring abroad and going a fun journey starting now and ending.....?

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