Monday, Jan. 18th (Dak To to Hoi An)

  • Once again, our motorbike travel companion, Dries from Belgium, was up at the crack of dawn to hit the road.
  • I woke up an hour later and took Cory’s motorbike to a mechanic to have the oil changed, tires pumped, and chain oiled.
  • Fit in some writing while waiting for Cory to wake up, then decided to take my own motorbike to the mechanic for the same tune up.  Each visits cost 100K VND ($4.50).
  • We finally hit the road just after 10am, making a quick stop at the Dak-To-Tan-Canh war monument on the way out of town for a few pictures.
  • At the recommendation of Mr.Huynh, our guide for the minority village tour two days ago in Kon Tum, we decided to take a less travelled highway through the highlands to Hoi An.  (Actually, he insisted that he was only giving “information,” saying that this was definitely the “adventure” road, though he refused to actually “recommend” anything.  Needless to say, it was all we needed to settle our route.)
  • For the first 45 minutes we were less than impressed.  The road was bumpy, bland, and filled with potholes.  At one point we decided to change roads to the Ho Chi Minh Highway, which apparently has beautiful views and is well paved, but there was no easy way to get there without backtracking so we trucked on.
  • A short 15 minute mountain climb later and Mr. Huynh’s “information” came to fruition.  Suddenly we were on a deserted road weaving through mountaintop jungle and dipping in and out of clouds.  For 2 hours we didn’t see a single other vehicle.
  • The road dipped down for a while, taking us through villages and plateaus before returning us to the mountaintop jungle sanctuary.  At one point we were looking down on a massive lake where we could see tiny fishing boats casting their nets and colourful villages nestled among the trees.
  • A couple hours later the road flattened out again as we neared the coast.  It was late afternoon but we still had several hours to go.  
  • With no break, we pushed on and made it to Tam Ky by 5pm, stopping at last for some gasoline.
  • We could have stayed in Tam Ky for the night but we had our hearts set on Hoi An and pulled right back on to the road.
  • We were making great time on the highway until I heard a loud mechanic clunking and felt the power fade from my engine even as the RPMs continued to climb.  With a sinking feeling I pulled over to the side of the road and discovered that my chain had come off of both sprockets.
  • I propped the bike up and attempted to fix it myself, but just then a woman pulled up behind us and asked if we needed help.  She made a call and within 20 minutes someone had shown up, fixed the chain, and disappeared, only asking 50K VND ($2.25) in return.
  • We were back on the road but the light had faded and were facing another hour and a half of driving in the dark, something we vow to never do again every single time.
  • After getting lost a few times, we finally arrived at the Sunflower Hotel in Hoi An just after 8pm.
  • We were exhausted and our nerves were fried after a full 10 hour day of driving.
  • We enjoyed a complimentary mixed drink at the bar then went up to bed and called it an early night.
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