After a few days in Da Lat it was time to start my exit of Vietnam as I’ll be in Thailand in just 3 nights.
First step: get back to Mui Ne for one more night.
Mui Ne is going to be one of those cities I’ll remember for all the wrong reasons. I had only planned to spend one night here and when it’s all said and done it will have been five.
On top of that, I didn’t even do the one thing that brought me to this city. The only reason I wanted to come to Mui Ne was because someone showed me a picture of themselves riding an ostrich up the white sand dunes located just outside of town.
Of course the bout with food poisoning changed all that. I did actually have a chance to stop by the dunes today on my way back into the city if I wanted to but I chose not to.
After the physically demanding day I had yesterday, the prospect of running around dunes in the sweltering heat really wasn’t that appealing to me.
There will be other dunes and other animals to ride.
So with that decision made I left Da Lat a little later around 10:30am giving me an ETA of around 4pm.
The first couple of hours riding were the hardest as I was going through city after city which meant sharing the road with a lot of other people.
So, it was with great relief when I finally hit the stretch of road leading to the mountain pass as I knew from there on out it was virtually traffic free.
Sure enough I could count on both hands the number of vehicles I saw on the road over the next couple of hours. It was heavenly!
And then, all of a sudden the rear of my bike was making a weird sound and it started shaking a little.
I had a flat tire!
I was about another half hour away from my destination but it became very apparent I wasn’t going to make it on my quickly deflating rear tire.
I slowed down to a crawl and pulled into a gas station. Of course gas stations here only sell gas so I was outta luck. Thankfully the attendant spoke English which, after travelling Vietnam for 3 weeks, I’ve learned is an extreme rarity.
He directed me to go down the road 1km and look for a place on the right hand side.
So I hopped back on the bike and very gingerly rode another kilometer looking for the place.
Of course I knew there wouldn’t be a big neon sign that said Doug’s Mechanics or something like that so with each place I passed I would peer inside to see if there was some sort of semblance to a mechanic’s shop.
I found a house with a half dozen motorcycles parked outside and figured that was the place.
I pulled up and walked inside to find a middle aged woman who spoke no English. I pointed to the bike tire and made a flat sign with my hands by pushing them together.
She seemed to know what I needed as she made a phone call and motioned for me to sit down outside and wait.
About 5 minutes later, a kid probably about 14 years old pulled up on his motorbike and smiled at me.
This was my mechanic.
Turns out I was in really good hands as he worked on my bike like he had done this kind of thing hundreds of times before.
He pulled out a nail almost 2 inches long out of my tire and showed me my shredded inner tube.
Within 15 minutes he had taken apart the back end of my bike, replaced the tube and reattached everything again.
It really was amazing to watch this kid work.
Now came the part I was stressing about – the payment.
Of course I had no idea how much this would cost and if they really wanted to they could just quote me any price since the work had been done already.
I was once again relieved when the woman wrote down 220 on a piece of paper indicating 220,000 dong ($11).
I happily paid the cash, shook the kids hands and left to finish the rest of my ride back into Mui Ne.
As I turned a corner the ocean side was once again visible indicating how close I really was to the finish line.
And then I was on my street pulling up to the place where I had rented the bike.
The man came over, looked over the bike (for damages I’m assuming) and then pointed at the bandaid on my knee and said something in Vietnamese.
I smiled and just said “before, before” not wanting him to know about my minor wipeout I had 10 minutes into my journey a few days ago.
He handed back my passport and I went next door to the guesthouse I’d be staying at for the night.
Whew. All my worries about passports and being scammed all went away when he handed me back that lovely item with the Canada logo on it.
I checked in, showered and headed straight back out.
I needed to eat so bad as I hadn’t had anything but leftover pizza 7 hours earlier (it was delicious by the way!).
I didn’t want to order something too big as it was 4pm and I still wanted to go for dinner later so I had the chicken fried rice.
Always a good substance dish to fill the tummy.
Next I walked over to the bus station to reserve my seat for the 8:45am bus back to HCMC tomorrow morning.
And then it was back to the guesthouse where I just kind of relaxed for a couple of hours.
At 8pm I headed to a restaurant I had spotted earlier that had an old man grilling fresh seafood on a little bbq in the front by the sidewalk.
I had the sweet and sour tuna steak with rice and it was just the perfect meal. So fresh and light not to mention absolutely scrumptious.
Good way to end the day.
Tomorrow is step 2 of exiting Vietnam as I take the 6 hour bus ride back to HCMC where I’ll stay one night before flying to Chiang Mai, Thailand the following evening.
Only 4 more days til I get to play with elephants!!!