Michal Košátko preparing breakfast at the village, Vietnam

Vietnam: East coast drive ’til the engine died

Getting ready for the east coast ride. Next day after breakfast and I drove to the mechanic to check the oil and engine that was clicking for last kilometers. The mechanic tightened ventils and all seemed better. It was about 135 km to Nha Trang, a city on the east coast and I was looking forward to walking on the beach. There was just a small obstacle between, mountains 1600 meters high with fog and heavy rain.

Being wet, freezing and at this time already hungry again was an experience but at the the time of being in the middle of it was not so fun, mainly knowing that the day before there was a stone avalanche and few Russian motorbikers were smashed and died. After 40 km of slow drive I was happy to reach the valley again. A Vietnamese soup pho and hot coffee made me feel warmer. Sitting there, sipping a coffee I saw few other motorbikers passing by. You can recognize them all by big bagpack laying behind their back. In 3 hours I reached Nha Trang, a city full of Russian tourists and decided to stay for few days to enjoy the beach despite cloudy weather. I found a decent hostel and what a surprise that later that day I met a French guy there, discussed and at the end found out that it was him who was passing me on his motorbike few hours ago and 50 km from Nha Trang when I was sipping my coffee.

The weather in Nha Trang was mainly cloudy with little rain here and there but the city was worth visiting. Two days later I packed again my motorbike and started the way on the east coast. What a magnific view on the sea with fresh air and finally some sun above the head. As usual I did few stops for coffee and some food. I am starting to be addicted to Vietnamese coffee.

That day I drove over 6 hours and made 316 km. It was not easy. In the evening it was getting dark soon and when I tried to find an accomodation, there was nothing around. It was not a big deal when having a sleeping bag and mosquito net but the prices in Vietnam are low so I preferred to find a bed and shower. The map is showing the nearest hotel 65 km in front of me which means about 1,5 hours more driving. Let’s go. The bike had a weak light and there was still big traffic on the roads caused mainly by heavy trucks. I needed to drive carefully and tried to be close to the truck from the right side, using his lights for the road in front of me. From time to time there were big holes on the way and I had no mood for rolling myself on the concrete. Anyway, the hotel was reached successfully.

I went to take a walk in that small city named Tam Quan Bac. There was an awkward party outside with a music I would not be able to dance on and my ears were bleeding. I was again surrounded by children gazing on me and speaking something I did not understand. Before sleeping I found out that I was not alone in the room. A cockroach big like my thumb was enjoying the bathroom but it went quickly home under the bathtube.

In the morning I found out that somebody stole my back mirror on the bike and I did not want to take the risk to drive without it. It’s pretty useful gadget here. In the near shop I bought new set of 2 mirrors for 3,50 USD (3 EUR), mantle on the bike and drove further towards Hue city. This day I wanted to reach at least Hoi An city and also do next check of the motorbike. With these old machines you never know what might happen which was proved few hours later.

Having a nice ride and smile on the face, enjoying a music in my earplugs and doing some photos from time to time, I was going through a place where the graves were lining the road from the left and right side. They were not here from some accidents but official ones for people who passed out. Seven kilometer nothing behind me, 7 kilometers nothing in front of me and than click clack. The engine made a strange sound and the motorbike stopped. I parked it on the side, sat down and took my Snickers bar. Having low knowledge about motorbikes I checked few parts, oil, gas and all seemed fine. Just the started was heavy to be pressed down. There must be some catch here.

An old man going around with his herd of cows tried to give me some advice in Vietnamese and I understood that I should have stopped a big truck, put the bike on it and drove to the mechanic. Vietnamese language is not so difficult when you use your hands and legs for explanation too.

Few minutes later a young guy stopped with his scooter and helped me to take my motorbike to the nearest village. His name was Cuong. He was driving a scooter with his feet on mine, pushing me 7 kilometers further. The mechanic needed a day to check the bike and Cuong offered a stay with him and his parents over the night. I was already thinking to finally use my mosquito net and sleeping bag, probably somewhere between those graves that were everywhere but his offer did not sound badly.

Michal Košátko preparing breakfast at the village, Vietnam
Michal Košátko preparing breakfast at the village, Vietnam

I was nicely welcomed by his parents and 2 sisters and although nobody spoke English, the evening turned into a very funny one, using Google Translator and hitting each other with questions about education, travelling and life in Czechia and Vietnam. The day after we prepared the breakfast, took a walk in the village, picked some cucumbers from the fields that I was later given for my journey, and in the afternoon we drove back to the mechanic. It turned out that the bike needs new spare part and the engine was damaged. It would take day or two more to get it fixed. I did not like that delay and it would give me less time in Hanoi to sell the bike. Who knows what might have still happened during the long journey. Christmas is coming so I gave the motorbike to Cuong. He just needs to repair it which should not cost more than 25 USD (21 EUR). I asked him to bring me to Hoi An which was 20 km far and we said good bye.

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