Day 11 recap: Bikes on a bus

Today we woke up after a day of rest and our bodies were ready to ride! Unfortunately, first we had to take a bus from Ha Giang to Tuyen Quang. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to just take the bus to Tuyen Quang yesterday because we were bored all afternoon, tying to kill time by napping or reading. Our bodies have been used to go, go, go, so sitting still is painful! Luckily, we rolled into the bus station this morning just as as bus was leaving for Tuyen Quang. The driver hoisted our bikes up on top of the minibus and strapped them down in some haphazard but semi-secure way. It was amazing how fast we whizzed through cities that had taken us days to bike through!

The biggest adventure on the ride was paying the fare. After some tough bargaining, we paid 140,000 dong ($7) for our tickets and the “bike fee”. The fare collector on the bus was giving us a hard time and had initially asked us for over double that price, sternly refusing to take anything less. We thought about worst case scenarios for the rest of the bus ride. What if he refused to give us our bikes? Would we have to climb up on the roof and get them ourselves? Ahhhh! As we pulled into Tuyen Quang, Margaret handed him the cash- our final offer. He chuckled when he counted the bills as the bikes were being unloaded. Then all of a sudden, he smiled and shook my hand. Strange, strange, strange. Good doing business with you, too, I guess.

The thought of having another bus/rest day today was out of the question, so after we arrived in Tuyen Quang and ate lunch (without any hassle this time!) we got back on our bikes and pedaled towards Hanoi.

Unfortunately, we were riding on a busy highway with lots of trucks carrying heavy loads and busses speeding to and from their destinations. There isn’t much of a shoulder, so traffic is an intricate weave of cars passing busses passing trucks passing motorbikes passing us passing peddlers carts passing people walking. In short, I miss the country roads that we had all to ourselves! The incessant honking gets annoying after a few hours, as does inhaling dust and exhaust. I guess we’re back in the city!

Traveling by bike allows us to create our own schedule, which has been very liberating. Today we stopped at a guesthouse along the highway as it was beginning to get dark, and tomorrow we’ll work our way a little closer to Hanoi and spend the night somewhere on the outskirts of the city. We won’t have a very long ride after the 60+ km that we did this afternoon, so we’ll plan to make some stops along the way to kill time.

No pictures today because there wasn’t much to take a picture of… besides trucks belching exhaust 😦 I’ll try to capture something more exciting tomorrow.

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3 thoughts on “Day 11 recap: Bikes on a bus

  1. Glad you were able to bargin for the bus ride and finally got to eat without a hassle. So the trip is coming to an end. But what a great experience and fun time you two have had. Can wait to hear you tell us all about it.
    Love ya, Grandmom

  2. One of our best treats in Hanoi was being there on the 1 day of the month where there was an ice cream buffet at Fanny’s. 4 of us went & had all of the ice cream with multiple toppings that we could eat. We tried many of the multiple flavors
    We did find Fanny ice cream in one other location. Many of the group found that stand & agreed that it was great ice cream.
    We knew that Saigon had a parlour, but there was not time to find it.
    Treat yourselves. It was near a lake, but I don’t know the street address.
    I’m sure you can ask people about it.
    People your age filled the place when we were there (standing room only).

    Love,
    Aunt Noreen

  3. Have enjoyed your trip, gotten a chuckle out of your quest for varied foods, your bargaining skills, and have followed you, sort of, on a National Geographic map. Hope you find Aunt Noreen’s ice cream shop and lick away!
    Love and hugs,
    Aunt Anne

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