The photo :
The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/172316202
The chat: Today’s ride provided that unusual combination : intermittent terror interspersed with mind-numbing boredom. Luckily we had expected this in advance – in fairness, the ride between Vietnam’s capital city and it’s third biggest city along a quadruple carriageway was never going to be a particularly peaceful or scenic. Our expectations were confirmed with 100km or so of highway down which screeched coaches and lorries with horns so loud they would have been banned in the UK. It was a nerve jangling experience, made more so by the hordes of motorcyclists weaving in between these large vehicles and the incredibly slow overladen wooden carts pulled by cows or humans who would sometimes weave into a different lane for no apparent reason.
Interestingly, nobody but us seemed at all harried by the experience and by the end of the ride we genuinely felt like we were the only people on the road with any instinct for self preservation – people were undertaking suicidal manoeuvres constantly, whether it was to pull out in front of speeding lorries without checking mirrors or looking around, or motorcyclists playing extreme games of chicken with a300ton trucks. Unfortunately I was gripping on to the handlebars too hard to take any photos documenting the chaos that ensued. Thankfully, much of the road had a hilarious cycle lane with metal barrier protecting us and the less suicidal motorcylists from the carnage. at times when it wasn’t there I was very grateful for my helmet and Andy’s careful steering.
110km, 18 litres of water, and a small dose of heat stroke later we arrived in Haiphong – a commercial but fairly attractive city. After eating, we headed to Haiphong’s only supermarket to marvel at the Western produce on display – it has been 8 months since we last saw a toblerone (priced at $9 here), making for a seriously exciting night out.