Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Drive Back...

(PICTURE: A local kid we met on the way.)

On our second day in Mai Chau, we spotted a road along a mountain pass. We asked a local about the road and he told us that it was a newly built way to go to Hoa Binh. In fact, he said the road was 16 kilometers shorter than the highway which meant it was time saving and scenic! I always love the prospect of taking new roads and asked Huyen if we could try it out. Huyen, always down for an adventure agreed...and well, it turned out to be quite an adventure.

Huyen and woke up early on our final day and headed out towards the road. When we got to the turn off of the road, there was a HUGE construction truck blocking the way. The driver of the truck started to speak to Huyen and said something I couldn't understand. Huyen then said, "Ta da?" which I could understand. That means, "Really?". The man said something else and then they both laughed. Huyen told me the man jokingly said the road wasn't finished and that we couldn't take it. After pulling our chain for a minute he said it was no problem and let us pass.

We drove for a few minutes before we encountered another little setback; a huge crane on the side of the road knocking out chunks of the mountains. The "chunks" or boulders it had scraped off were blocking the road. Huyen got off the bike and allowed me to carefully maneuver around them. Oh, should I mention again that this road was along the edge of a mountain?

(PICTURE: A small section of unpaved road that Huyen felt more comfortable walking than riding on.)

After getting around the rocky obstacles, we proceeded on the road. There were beautiful views everywhere we looked and perplexed locals wondering why a foreigner and his girlfriend were traveling in their neck of the woods. After a little bit, we rounded a corner and stopped right behind a huge bulldozer. All around the bulldozer were construction workers who started to tell us that we couldn't take the road. I once again heard, "Really?" from Huyen which was followed by lots of laughter. Everyone then waved us on as we drove along the six inches of the road which wasn't freshly tarred.

A few minutes more passed before we came to another terrible section of road. Huyen decided to get off the bike and allow me to drive it up the steep section of the hill. I obliged and shot up the mountain about a hundred yards ahead of her....until I came to a section of completely overturned road with another huge crane in front of it. The crane operator looked at us as if we were totally crazy for being where we were. I can only imagine what he was thinking, "Um, didn't any of the other construction workers along the way mention that the road isn't built yet?"

(PICTURE: The last section of "road".)

Yup, turns out the road wasn't passable. Huyen and I had to turn around and drive past everyone who had told us it was okay for us to travel on the road. One word comes to mind: DICKS!

On the positive side, we got to see some spectacular views for an hour an a half. In fact, on the way back we saw this waterfall which we somehow missed on the way forward: