Like any journey of mine, I like to go the scenic, unseen, off the beaten track type roads. I can’t be doing with the usual safe options.
We were all in for a surprise that day!
Having spent the last 3 days in Ninh Binh due to the poor weather, it was time to get on my bike and get outta there. I had a good 7 hour drive ahead of me to Yen Cat. A small village on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Virtually in the middle of nowhere, just a place to put the head down for the night.
Driving towards Yen Cat looked from google maps on my phone, a decent enough road, mainly because its actually on the map. As I zig zagged across country the road was actually quite exciting, driving through muddy puddles, dodging pot holes, cows, other motorbikes and the odd dog and chicken.
The scenery was cracking, keeping the smile on my face as I manoeuvred through the rough terrain. Occasionally the road would open up and have flat easy to drive surface, which was nice :). As I drove along the river I stopped a few times as there was some really nice scenery to take in and also to share with my Periscope followers.
So after after a few hours on the road…
Half way to my destination and I just remember driving down this road. It was the right one, my imperial navigator google said so, so it must be cool right??
Driving down a fairly narrow road, I remember stopping to admire the view and taking a picture of an old bamboo gate with faded red and white paint that looked kinda cool with the scenery behind. I remember thinking at the time, what a place for a gate, what purpose does this gate have…
What the actual f***
Having turned the corner I was faced with a bridge. Not exactly a bridge though. It had rusty steel beams that spanned across the river and valley below. There was a pile of old reinforced concrete posts, kinda blocking the start of the bridge, so looked like it wasn’t for crossing. I was literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. I had only one option in my mind, cross the bridge. There was no way I had time to find an alternative river crossing. As I pondered, I thought, lets get on Periscope!
Having initiated the cast on Periscope, I thought to myself, what am I doing here, why am I even casting this nonsense. I needed a solution, thats why. I guess I was looking for support, you know someone to say, just go for it. It was daunting, but deep down I knew I was crossing this shaky, rusty iron bridge.
As I stood with phone in hand, the general feedback from my followers was, don’t do it, find another way, thats insane. I was getting frustrated, because I now had doubt put into my mind, not really what I needed! people were suggesting go down over the river, turn back, find an alternative. I just said I can’t I have to cross it!
It was decided, let’s walk it first
Wearing the trusty flip flops and iPhone in hand broadcasting, I shimmed myself across the bridge. The beams beneath my feet were moving from side to side with some heavily rusted. This is mental, I remember thinking, the beams will just take the tire of the bike and no more, not forgetting how and where do I put my feet.
Back I went to the bike, took a deep breath and said right lets do it.
John Chang suggested I should take my bags off the bike, he was spot on, great idea. I took the small back back off that I had strapped to the front of the bike, and left the large bag on the back of the bike. I tightly secured the smaller back pack straps around my waist and chest, I didn’t want anything to unbalance me.
Everyone wished me luck expecting the cast to end.
No way was it ending, we got this far, now I had to plant the iPhone somewhere to film it all. After messing around trying to strap it to my chest, I ended up with it perched in the storage compartment on the bike, giving a perfect view looking down toward the iron beams.
Manoeuvring the bike into position, dodging the concrete pillars, I lined the bike up with the iron beam. As I edged the bike onto the iron beams all you could hear was the beams creaking and making creepy noises. One step after another, all I could do was concentrate on keeping the front wheel in line with the rusted iron beam.
My heart was racing as I crossed, looking down to the valley below thinking a fall here is a certain death sentence!
As I reached the other side, locals had arrived. I now became there entertainment it was hilarious, one dude pulled out his phone and took a picture of me haha.
What I didn’t expect! and how lucky I was!!!
Having managed to shuffle my way across the bridge, I arrived at the other side only to realise there was a 7-8 inch ridge that I now had to get over. I tried to lift the bike, but couldn’t get the leverage I needed to get over the ridge.
I was so lucky the locals had arrived. I was able with 2 other men to lift the bike to safety whilst balancing on the rusty beams.
What an adrenaline rush!
My heart was pounding so hard with the crossing, but in a weird kinda way I wanted more haha, what a feeling to take a chance, survive and tell the tale. It was a memory that I will never forget.
Let’s go go go
On the road again, scoping along the way passing through small villages and countryside.
Stopped for a quick drink of vietnamese tea at a road side shop, you find that when travelling through most small villages there is always a wee shop at the front of some enterprising local home.
As I sat relaxing sipping my tea, the owner was asking a few questions in Vietnamese, I understand a little so managed to get the basic out. Nice friendly old lady’s husband came said hello and started looking at my bike and noticed my rear tire was flat!
I must have picked up a slow puncture somewhere! not ideal. He pointed down the street and gestured to the left.
Finding the place was easy enough as there wasn’t really anything else in this place. I was greeted by a older Vietnamese man who looked like he had just woke up. In Vietnam, they take lots of naps throughout the day, so this was not unusual. I kinda excused his poor attitude for this.
Fast forward a few hours with the sun almost set and I was now hunting for a hotel, hostel, homestay or wherever I could put my head down.
Trying one place that looked alright, I was actually turned away, not sure why and didn’t argue. Drove down the road a little and found another place. I checked in and was shown to the the worst room i’ve stayed in. Even though it was the worst room ever due to the bugs, smell and generally cleanliness, I didn’t care though I was just glad that I could sleep somewhere for the night, I ended up doing a wee Q+A on Periscope from the room to show everyone how bad it was.
What a day!
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