Nhat Ky Xe Day 8: Sa Pa -> Huang Su Phi Approx. ???km
Long, long day. Maybe if we had a proper map and proper bikes things would have been easier, but where’s the adventure in that?
We left Sa Pa at 7am after early-morning pho bo. We set a seriously idealistic goal of driving straight through to the city of Ha Giang before dark, and at first it was looking like we would actually make it. In no time at all, we flew through Lao Cai and then hit Bac Ha. We studied the map over lunch and decided how to cross over into Ha Giang province. A faint, squiggly line was chosen that would take us along the Chinese border before dipping south to connect with highway 3, which we would take up to Ha Giang city.
We started off strong by missing a very missable turn and ending up in the lovely little village of Si Ma Cai. We tried to get info from some of the wow-you’re-definitely-not-from-around-here H’Mong people on the street, but they were more interested in trying to get us to marry their daughters (no joke) so we turned around and went back to Bac Ha. Some more asking around earned us the sympathy of a nice local guy who guided us to the turn we had missed. He pointed with a big smile towards “Ha Zang!” and sped off.
The road into Ha Giang is a nice little dusty gravel number with enough unmarked detours to keep the adventurous foreigner entertained for a lifetime. At first I found this all fun and exciting. Then I launched myself off my bike onto a bed of sharp rocks after flying into a turn with a little too much gusto… No major damage, luckily. A little blood, some bent thingies and a sore ankle was all, but it did drain some of the “fun and excitement” from the rest of the ride. I also smunched the brake pedal in such a way that my rear brake stayed slightly on for the rest of day. I was getting to know the limits of my abilities and my bike, which was, naturally, wearing thin my confidence in both.
After a few more km’s of crawling along this @#!$ road, things improved. The crap-road connected us with a nice sealed one which we took for the next couple hours. We ended up walking the last 3 km’s of the day into the village of Huang Su Phi after Michael scored his second flat tire of the trip. Huang Su Phi turned out to be full of very friendly people who were as happy to see us as were them. A new tire for Michael’s bike, some bending of thingies for mine, a hotel room, dinner, some (unexpectedly fast) internet, and then sleep.
We didn’t make it to Ha Giang, but by our reckoning we weren’t far off so we set our sights on Dong Van for the next day.