The plan today was for down time, explore BaBe lake, no riding. The timing of this was REAL good
as after my spill yesterday I was hurting pretty bad, the bruise was growing to the point where it pretty much wrapped around my entire upper leg, and I needed some down time.
We rode off to the lake but as we arrived Zach commented that his brakes were barely working, and then looking at the rear tire I noticed it was almost flat. So we rode back toward town and a few miles outside the park in a small village came upon one of the many Xemays (bike mechanics). He pulled off the rear wheel and in checking the tube we found a leak. I told the mechanic to replace the tube with one out of our took kit, and to repair the puncture and put the repaired tube back into the took kit as backup for later. We then took a look at the brakes and found that the rear pads were completely worn, nothing there, metal on metal. Thinking that back in Hanoi the guy from whom we rented the bikes, Phung, had provided spare brake pads, we dug into the tool kit. Yes we found brake pads but they were front pads and did not fit the rear. Although there are many, many millions of bikes in Vietnam and parts are readily available the XL 250's we were riding are pretty much unknown and parts for them are not available. The mechanic pulled off his shelf every size brake pad he had searching for a pair that fit, but no luck. Keep in mind he spoke no English and we spoke no Vietnamese so communication was a challenge. I was starting to become really concerned as riding with no brakes was not an option. He then took a pair of pads from his supply that were larger than the ones required, he eyeballed them against worn pads and commenced grinding them down to match the old pads using a circular grinder. It took him about ten minutes and in this manner he fashioned a pair of pads that fit just fine. We were really impressed with the ability of this guy running a tiny shop in a small hamlet to improvise and solve the problem, no big fuss!
I cant remember exactly what he charged us but it was certainly no more than $4 or $5 for the parts and labor
We rode back to the lake and took a 2 hour boat tour of the lake and some islands. Beautiful area.
We spent the rest of the day taking it easy. We'd had some real hard days behind us and the down time was greatly appreciated. I must mention here the beds found in most Vietnamese hotels, especially in the small towns. The mattresses are, well they are not really mattresses. They are hard boards, much like sleeping on a sheet of plywood. It hadn't been too bad up to this point dealing with the rock hard beds but now I had a new issue: my right side was really sore from the spill the day before and I just could not lie on that side, it hurt like crazy. So for about the next ten days I had to sleep on my left side at all times
That night we ate at a restaurant across the road from the hotel. It was out of season and we were the only diners in this huge room. But they cooked us up a really nice meal and the waitress and chef were super friendly, showering us with handfuls of candy after dinner. We arranged with them to provide us breakfast the following morning.
Total distance for the day - 10 kms