The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/174853745 – needless to say, don’t follow this one…
The chat: So we liked the riverboat ride yesterday, but not enough to do it again quite so soon… After breakfast (average ban cuan and good coffee, since you ask) we trundled out of Cho Ra, confident of our route – after all, Zoom (landlady) and Mr G (GPS device) were confident as to the road we should we be following. But it was going to be a long hilly one, so we prayed for no more navigational issues. After 10km or so, the GPS had us ride down a track, and questioning interested locals, all seemed to agree that the route would be just fine. Soon we were gurning through muddy cornfields, until the much abused chain snapped. Pushing the bike on, we arrived at -you’ve guessed it – the same river we’d boated down yesterday.
Ten minutes of good natured haggling later got us a boat ride back on the river we’d toured yesterday. Confident that we’d be boating onto the lake and to one of the villages on it, we relaxed, amused that despite being on water we were still following the GPS route precisely. Our relaxed frame of mind was short lived, as we didn’t turn to the lake but instead were dropped at the top of the waterfalls we’d seen yesterday. Assured that all we had to do was follow the path, we rode off on a narrow but decent footpath bypassing the cascades. However in less than a kilometre, we were stranded on the river shore again, this time downstream of the waterfall. Our only option was to charter a second boat, which again crawled along the river, passing the odd hut but nothing resembling a road. The GPS still thought the route was splendid. By now it was midday and any hopes of completing the planned ride were almost over. At last, a road bridge came into view, and we disembarked. Na Hang, a small town half way to our planned arrival point seemed to be a more realistic stopover given the hours we’d lost, so we rode the (very hilly) 50 km there, relieved to be back on a road.
Installed in our hotel we reviewed the day’s adventure – what had gone wrong? It turns out that the river we’d navigated was listed as a ROAD (the D147) on Googlemaps! Not conspiracy theorists in the main, we have started to wonder whether the technology failures we’ve experienced is a consequence of our proximity to China (known for its distrust for all things GPS). We vowed to be super cautious with routing on tomorrow’s revised route before we turned in.