Monday, April 11, 2011

Leaving Hanoi

After giving our extra stuff to Su, Huyen and I left Hanoi. This is us crossing the Red River:

Our first destination was Cao Bang Province. Cao Bang is quite far from Hanoi so we thought we would take two days to get there. Originally we had planned to stop in Babe Lake the first night. However, at the last minute we decided to try going a different way since we went to Babe two years ago. At the intersection where we had planned to turn left, we took a right. Less than a minute later we took another the curb because a policeman pulled us over.

In Vietnam, you get pulled over by a cop stepping into the road and shoving his baton in your face. They literally step into on coming traffic and steer you to the side like you're a charging bull. I think the guy pulled me over because I was speeding (although, Mom, I really wasn't going fast at all!). Huyen thinks they stopped us because they had cameras on the road and saw our out of town license plates. We're not sure exactly why they pulled us over because as soon as the cop saw my face he told me to keep going. I think the cop -- who must have been 25 or younger -- had no idea what to do with a foreigner. No complaints here because it means our bribing budget didn't have to get tapped on Day #1!

Another of my favorite things that happened on Day #1 is that when we stopped for gas, Huyen overheard a conversation between two guys that went like this:
Guy #1: Look it's a foreigner.
Guy #2: I guess Vietnamese girls like foreigners.
Guy #1: Only Vietnamese girls with big shoulders.

Yes, Huyen, has big least while she's wearing the protective motorcycle jacket we bought her (they didn't have my size!). So now I keep making fun of Huyen's shoulders being freakishly large.

At the end of the day, Huyen and I took a road with HUGE TRUCKS. We're trying to avoid this by going on all back roads. However, for some reason all these trucks were on this back dirt road. I'm talking massive 18 wheelers. Luckily they were only going about a mile an hour since they had to maneuver around giant pot holes (probably created by other trucks). It was a bizarre route for the trucks to go but technically it was highway...just this section was in the middle of a forest.

In total, we logged 285km on our first day. That is a heck of a lot on a motorbike and probably the most we'll log in a single day on the whole trip.