We awoke a bit earlier to get an early start from our long slumber in Mai Chau. The interesting thing, is Shelly and I had 3 beds and fell asleep in our clothes watching TV. The only channel in English was Fashion TV. 🙂 We got packed and took our bags down to attach them to the racks. It went a lot smoother this time! Only took about 30 minutes this time to secure everything. Before securing the bags, we gassed up the bikes and filled our spare gas can. A guy showed up who spoke some good English and was a tour guide from Hanoi.
Heading Out Of Mai Chau
Get a Guide or Go Solo?
Since the GPS had given us wrong information last night regarding the Mai Chau turnoff, I was starting to doubt that taking the Na Meo border route was the right way to go. We could go through Bien Dien Phu which was another two days to the north but on more formed roads. This guy said that after the border of Dien Bien Phu, the roads in Laos were bad. He suggested we go through the route we were on, which would take us to Na Meo. ( a more remote border crossing) the only thing was, that my GPS didn't even show the roads let alone towns along the way.
He insisted that it was the better path, and suggested we get a guide friend of his to accompany us to the border. We agreed and the price of 50 dollars. 30 minutes later.... the guy shows up. We both got the feeling that this guy wasn't the guy for the job. When he arrived he didn't greet us, and hardly made eye contact. The guy who spoke English stated that it would be easier for us to get through the border with someone who spoke Vietnamese and he could procure a map and get us there safely. Once the guy showed up we both had second thoughts and declined his assistance. We are glad we did. We put in the border point in the GPS and the road appeared on the GPS. We took off later than we wanted AGAIN!!!! At 10am we headed out after stopping back by and having great noodle soup at the same restaurant where we ate the night before.
The Mountains of Vietnam
Amazing Ride In The Mountains
The ride was GREAT!!!! Hills and mountains, and beautiful vistas. We meandered along the Nam Ma then Song Lo rivers, we loved taking in the local life in the mountains. Everyone was very friendly waving at us and marveling at two westerners with loaded motorbikes riding by their small world. It was nice to be back on the road, and the road was in pretty good shape yet only one and a half lanes wide. It was slow go. Shelly was still getting her riding skills in check on mountain roads that are winding and steep in places. This really felt like Vietnam. The Vietnam you think of when they talk about the jungles and back country from all of those Vietnam War movies. It really was spectacular!
We made our customary stops every hour to stretch our legs and let Buddha out. We made it to Quan Son at dusk. Quan son is a small village/town along a Song Lo river in the mountains. As we arrived in Quan Son, I noticed a funny sound coming from my front tire which sounded like a rock tumbling around in the brake drum. After finding a musty smelling guesthouse (only one in the town) I took the bike to check it out. Ball Bearings! The guy replaced them at a shop. The price...... 4 dollars. Once getting back to the guesthouse we realized that the town didn't have power.
Entering Quan Son
Quan Song, Vietnam
We ate at a small eatery next to our hotel which had a generator, and had I had a bland meal of beef and white rice, and Shelly had chicken with white rice. But we were glad to eat, and didn't mind that much. We stopped by a story and picked up some candles, crackers, whoopee pies (called choco-pies) and ice cream, and headed back to the room. It was about 7pm, dark, and we didn't have anything to do but eat sweets by candle light. We got to sleep about 8pm in our moldy, cool, smelly room. Not the best place I have ever stayed but, not the worst. The power was restored about 3am. At least we were able to have an almost luke warm shower in the AM. Nothing was good about this stay, even our damp clothes didn't dry and ended up smelling like the room when we left.
Our Room In Quan Son
This region is rich in Chopstick factories. It runs along a river that has bamboo floated to the saw mills along the banks. We passed entire villages with saw mill after saw mill of packaged raw chop sticks. This must be the region where they come from. This area of Vietnam has a large amount of bamboo forests and probably supplies most of northern Vietnam with chopsticks. We also think that next door to our musty smelling room, is a dog livery. A place where they raise dogs for eating. The noise of whining dogs all night was haunting and upset us both a little.