It was the third or fourth day on the road that we figured we’d take a different route. We are sure that the beaches of Mui Ne and Nha Trang are beautiful, but reckoned a beach is a beach. Someone had pointed out to us that the inland road, also known as the Ho Chi Minh Road, is a very scenic ride and that we could drive to Hoi An and follow the beach from there.
He explained to us that we would have to south a bit to find the entrance to the highway. That entrance was probably about an hour’s drive down from Dalat, and driving the wrong direction is a waste of time. Our map told us that there’s another road that goes north and meets the same highway as well. Probably just the same to drive that way. Or so we thought…
Getting out of Dalat proved to be slightly more difficult than expected as my brother set his bike down somewhere to ask for directions and it fell, breaking off the clutch. Luckily, there are mechanics situated every 500m along any given road in Vietnam, but it did take him over an hour to fix it (including the time he had to go and get a new cable).
But then we were on our way!
We drove for a while. Slowly but surely the weather got worse, as did the road. And when rain came pouring down on us, the road turned into a dirt one: road works in progress. Couldn’t be long, so we continued. We passed a truck and I fell flat-out in the orange mud. Leaving the boys to almost fall off too from laughing.
Despite the works, the road wasn’t too bad so we continued.
Slowly but surely, people started to wave at us. First we waved back thinking they were being friendly. Until we understood what they said. No road! By then, we had been driving through sand for over two hours, so their warnings ment nothing to us. After all, how much longer could it be?
When we finally found a little mountain village around 4.30pm we had only covered about a third of the road and the highway we were looking for was nowhere to be seen. Eventually someone who spoke a little English turned up and was nice enough to draw out a map for us. He said it would take us about two hours to cover the 20k – which did not ring a bell with any of us.
Off we went. It still didn’t dawn on us when the roads became smaller and narrower. We had to cross some streams, but still we went on – happy that we found the way again and that beds awaited us on the other side.
And then the road stopped being a road. The road became what is a riverbed in summer, and we had no choice but to go forward. It was getting dark and we needed a place to stay. Sharing a three-person-tent with four people and four bags is all but ideal.
Deep holes where our wheels got stuck. Narrow gutters where we slipped into many times. Slippery parts because of the rain earlier that day. Big stones. Branches hanging over the way. Full gas going up. Braking 30k an hour going down. Sore arms. Cramps in our hands from braking. Darkness set in. I was the only one with working lights. The boys put on headlights and we went on feeling.
There wasn’t any way that we could turn back. For starters, the road would be long, too, and there wasn’t anywhere to go anyway. Secondly, we were already quite far and we would have to go this way anyway. Ofcourse, light would be nice. We couldn’t really see the road anymore – if there was any to mention. Bats all around. Sometimes we went full gas up the mountain and still had to push the bike up the last part.
It was heaven when we arrived at a concrete road. We asked the locals for the hotel. They pointed us the way. And we drove again. No hotel to be seen, nor a guesthouse, motel, hostel or anything like it. They sent us one way, they sent us the other, and we kept passing the newly built Catholic church with a blue cross. We were tired and hungry. Our behinds were so sore. We just wanted somewhere to be.
So we knocked on the church’s door. We were let in and fed. We could bathe and slept wonderfully.
Thank you, Jesus!
(As a footnote, I would like to add that the night before and the night after we slept in a brothel. We didn’t realize it until it was too late!)