The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/171303602
Today was the day ‘Mr G’ finally let us down. Our all singing all dancing Garmin 800 bike specific computer has guided us across two and a bit countries without faltering, finding routes across rivers through cities and over mountains, avoiding heavy traffic and alerting us the moment we stray off the planned route. Well today Mr G had a moment or two, and as blind faith (or its modern equivalent, over reliance on high-tech electronic gadgets) dictates, we found ourselves lost, first on a rutted footpath in the middle of nowhere (ending up detouring an extra 15km) and then, just a few kilometres short of Hanoi, with its skyscrapers in sight, on the muddy banks of a river with no apparent option but to retrace our steps once again. This was until an old lady with the most basic chain ferry (!) known to man appeared and pulled us over the river on a rope.
So rejoining chaotic Highway 1 again came as almost a relief – a case of better the devil you know. In truth, the run into Hanoi was much less fraught than the out of town sections of the same road, as the traffic is heavier and thus slower. And it even has a bike lane. As noted in Phnom Penh, arriving in a capital city under one’s own steam is rather special – the self-righteousness that accompanies rolling into the centre and seeing tourists who have had the temerity to arrive by plane/bus/taxi etc. is a smug feeling perhaps only bike tourists can understand. Celebrating that at least the insight to appreciate what navel-gazing twits we’d become remained intact was easy enough – the best Indian restaurant in town almost ran out of garlic naans as the Hanoi feast began.