The day began in very interesting fashion: at breakfast in the local restaurant there was a group of guys at the table next to us slamming down shot after shot with their breakfast. Soon their attention turned to us and one of them came to join us at our table. Very friendly to say the least. The guy was offering us shots and trying really hard to get us to join in the party. Now drinking before I ride is not something I commonly do
and slamming down shots at 7:00 am is also not my habit
Anyway we had fun together. He gave me a Vietnamese bill and I responded with a dollar bill which he promptly folded so that George Washington's face was to the front and placed it in his wallet with George facing out from behind the plastic. Soon enough they hopped on their bikes and rode off to work and we rode out of town.
We were barely one mile from town when the scenery turned really beautiful with the limestone karst hills that are typical of the north country rising out of the vibrant green valley floor rice paddies.
The pavement was in good condition as we headed north. After 60 kms we turned east heading toward the town of Sapa, toward the mountains:
Soon I hit one of the best motorcyling roads I have ever ridden. The road climbed ever higher and higher into the mountains, one twisty after another. The pavement was in very good condition with one exception - every couple of hundred yards there was a pile of gravel blocking the lane that had been placed for road repair by a crew that I soon passed. Nonetheless it was an exhilarating ride. We were on the highest pass in Vietnam, Tram Ton Pass.
Zach had sped away when I stopped but we soon met up on the outskirts of Sapa after 30 kms of giggle-inducing joy. We descended into the pretty town of Sapa spectacularly located in high mountains with views of both the mountains and the valley stretching out below. We found a decent hotel room for $15 with a great view of the mountains, unpacked our gear and then headed out for a ride. And oh what a ride it was. There is a narrow road of broken pavement and gravel that leads out along the mountain through many small villages and hamlets. By now I had regained confidence in my dirt biking skills and Zach was doing great. We sped off on the road zipping along catching air over jumps formed by steep short climbs and drop-offs. In hindsight we realized we had ridden way too fast through this populated area but at the time we were feeling our oats and just wanted to let it rip, which we did
We the descended to the valley floor, crossed over a bridge and started to climb steep and narrow single track on the far side. We passed some isolated hamlets linked by narrow paths. The riding was very technical and we did great with no falls. Toward evening we turned around and headed back the way we had come, once again riding at pace. I was so into the ride I only stopped a few times to take photos, this being one:
Many tourists visit Sapa, which is really a nice town, and it has some lovely restaurants. We dined on a lovely 4 course meal for $5 with 75c beers! The day had been one of the best riding days of my life and we were totally pumped.
While I had been looking for a hotel room Zach struck up a conversation with a local lady who asked if we were interested in a homestay the following night. We agreed to meet her early the following day.
Total mileage for the day was mere 120 kms (75 miles).
Fun factor was 10++