Thailand trip part II, plus to CB, or not CB?
Lisa Bamforth quit her job, flew to Thailand, bought a bike and headed off with a rough destination in mind. Here’s part two – over to Lisa! One of the biggest adventures I was most looking forward to was the highly acclaimed Hai Van Pass – I since learned this is the road Jeremy Clarkson deemed ‘the best road in the world’. It’s a contender, Jezza, but you clearly didn’t spend enough time inland. The pass climbs from Da Nang along a tarmac’d road and sweeps round the face of the mountain in huge S-bends followed by a series of hairpins the higher you reached. It’s 21km of pure unadulterated views across the ocean, dropping down into the white sandy spit of Lang Co on the north side. With the pass closed to big traffic it is a great opportunity to stop and soak it all in at your leisure. It was pretty good I gotta say.
The most dramatic scenery has been over the last couple of days through the Ho Chi Minh Highway. You’d be mistaken for thinking this is a typical ‘highway’ but for the most part this is a single lane track cutting through the most remote jungle and rainforest you could imagine. The road follows stunning rivers, climbing steeply and turning back on itself as it meanders the contours of the mountain face.
It undulates and drops away from you, revealing steep valleys and limestone crags. At times you are in the clouds and you can make out the canopy on the highest peaks, in the valleys you pass wooden stilted houses with children playing, men fishing in the rivers with nets weighted down with stones and in the evenings that comforting wood burning fire smell.
All the while you and your two wheels and about as many other riders as you can count on two hands for over 200km of road pass you by, and for that moment you are alone in your adventure and there is no comparable feeling.
I left the stunning village of Long Son this morning in, you guessed it, the pouring rain. I thought I had got away with it as I made it about 0.5km but then had to push it back as far. I knew there would be a mechanic, there is one everywhere, everywhere I need one anyway! He sorted my plugs and off I went this time bound for a different kind of terrain. Eight hours of riding was looking unlikely but I had every intention of making it to Kuong Khe before nightfall. Two hours in and my back tyre gave on me.
I walked to the top of the hill to see what I could see, and just then a ranger rode by on his bike; I hadn’t seen a soul for two hours. He told me his station was 3km away and pointed back the way I came. I thought about repairing the puncture by the side of the road but given the way things had panned so far I thought I might keep hold of the canisters for another occasion, so I limped along behind him to the station and accepted their help. I was defeated for the day. The guys fed me and sorted my puncture for the small fee of 200k dong, equivalent of about £7 – I was delighted. So far nobody would take a penny for helping me out. Even the mechanic who repaired my chain!
I got to Phong Nha about four hours short of target, drenched to the bone and fatigued. I decided to rest there for the night. Phong Nha has the biggest caves in the world – I had been planning to bypass them to save time but perhaps now I will pay them a visit as I am here.
That’d b e nice to take on a sportsbike!
What a beast of a bike!
That’s a big hole!