Merry Christmas, friends!
I’ve found that the closer I am to the road when I travel, the closer I get to people. If I’m buttoned up in a cab with AC I see the country. If I’m riding or walking I live in it.
When we learned there wasn’t time to ride to Hanoi, we left HCMC in the afternoon that same day instead of the next morning like we’d planned. After endless stops for lights, traffic, and map checks, we were just beginning to get out of the maze and turned on to what we thought was the last stretch.
And hey guess what? Vietnam has cars-only highways, and our “last stretch” was one of them. We weren’t sure at first, but there were no locals on bikes. There are always locals on bikes. Finally we saw a sign that showed a picture of a bed so we pulled off, but it was just a parking lot. We called one of the people we got the bikes from and she confirmed we weren’t allowed on that road. Remember: orange roads mean no bikes.
There were lights on in a house nearby, and, thinking that it might be the Vietnamese equivalent of a bed and breakfast, Russell said we should go ask. Good call, Russell.
Quickly memorizing a bad pronunciation of the word for “hotel”, Russell and I walked over and he asked. The man we talked to eventually understood and said no. We went back to the bikes and started packing up, planning to continue on the highway until we could get off onto a regular, bikes-allowed highway.
As I was zipping up my jacket, a different man rode up to talk to us. He spoke some English and said we could stay with him for 100 thousand dong ($5US).
He turned out to be one of the world’s Samaritans. He fed us dinner, let us stay in his room, and spent an hour the next day leading us to the right road. We tried to pay him three times, but he wouldn’t take anything.
Thank you Minh!
Photo courtesy of Russell.
Locals later warned us to be careful in situations like that, because sometimes people will be nice up front but will end up stealing your bikes or something. But this time, as with most times, there wasn’t a problem.