– ODO- 17462 – 17561km
– Location- Field near the QL7 Highway
– Weather- 24-33 descending from cloud, showers in the afternoon
I started my ride in a bad mood. As Id left the border town in Lao heading up the final 20km before the border a white truck cut me up with horn blazing as a moped came the other direction. Rushing ahead to an empty road with no other traffic, full of passing places. I silently fumed reaching the peak and dropping into the border station. I started by leaving Laos. In Vientiane I’d spent a day requesting and extension to my visa and somehow miscalculated. $10 later I was through to the Vietnam checkpoint. My two month visa was stamped and for the first time and after crossing 25 international borders my bags were checked and x-rayed. An officer in a peaked green hat joked and tried to mount my impossibly high saddle.
There was a currency exchange spot and a small cafe selling SIM cards but with no food to find I continued on the road. Vietnam was similar to Laos at first glance but from every house hung a red flag with the yellow star. Oh and goats. There were loads of goats. The road dropped sharply and in less than an hour I’d come from the cool cloud tops at 1400m to the river Ca at 200m and the first major town.
My mood deepened when I tried to get some food. I stopped at the second or third place with chairs and tables with someone eating outside to find a woman hacking at a big catfish with a blunt knife. I tried to ask for vegetarian but I got laughed at in return. I was waved down the street. At the next spot there were tables set out but no food and the women were washing and I was waved on again and so it continued down the high street. Finally I found a cafe and settled on a meaty Pho only noticing afterwards the woman stacking blocks of tofu in the kitchen. Finally I saw smiles. The cook came out and measured herself against me coming to around my naval. I ate and as I rolled out of town on the flat river side road a stream of children shouted their greetings and in each town men at work and women washing waved to me and smiled and my smile grew. Vietnam had reached me at last.