Day 20 - Gia Nghia to Saigon - Like a bat out of hell
I had tempted fate enough and decided to head back to Saigon. Considering the 4 day tour of the Northwest, which I didn't cover in this RR, before heading South from Hanoi 24 days prior (adding rest days to the ride days), and not being a seasoned rider, my ass really hurt, and I couldn't see a that I could best some of the rides I'd already had!
The hotel owner was nice enough to direct me to a mechanic working and living out of some corrugated iron boards and wood struts. We propped my bike up on a big brick and he put my spare front tube in. That took twenty minutes and cost the equivalent of* 2 Pounds Sterling.
This would be the longest days ride in distance. Despite many of the supposed main roads being little more than a barely flattened surface covered in stones, I made good time and got to Saigon before sun down. The buses on those roads were still driving at full speed, firing rocks all over the place. There would be perfect road for miles, then suddenly huge potholes and cracks, usually on corners or crests of hills, similar to yesterdays roads, but this time on dual carriageways!
Riding in Saigon was even less fun than Hanoi, but not too slow. At one point our lights went green, so I accelerated out, when some maniac with wife and kid on their scooter came flying out of the stationary traffic to my right, no helmets, nothing worth protecting in his case. We both braked hard. The fear in his eyes was incredible as he realized he may have just sentenced his family to a grim demise. I stopped just short of smashing into their flank, the wife and kid hardly noticed at all. I couldn't see how they were unfazed, I suppose those are the kind of weird moments when you realize that you may never understand.
I spotted the inviting looking Evergreen Hotel and pulled in. After sorting a room I rode the bike into their garage and parked up.
It dawned on me that this was probably it. Smiling, but with a heavy heart, I switched the engine off, then kicked out the stand. I walked to my room, sat on the bed, looked down at my boots, which had been unworn before the trip, and before taking them off for the last time I had to smile at how worn they were.
- The End