December 7, 2012 by farbolino
The morning started with me going to the mechanic across the street to figure out what the problem was with Gertrude. I mimicked as best I could that there was something rubbing on the rear wheel and that I thought it had something to do with the sprocket. The mechanic had his 14 year old son (at least he looked about 14 and to be his son) take off the rear wheel. One of the 4 bolts holding the rear sprocket on had slowly been unscrewing until it was hitting the frame of the bike, and now was almost completely gone from continually smacking the rear swing arm.
The kid really didn’t know what he was doing exactly, so I had to stand over him and give instruction as to what needed to be done. While the wheel was off I noticed that one of the bearings inside the wheel needed to be replaced, so I had that done too. One of the nice things about owning a Honda Cub is that it was the most produced motorcycle EVER. Since there are 60 million others in the world, and it seems like half of those are in Vietnam, so basically every mechanic has any spare part imaginable. In the end, it was 100,000 for the work ($4.75).
I left Mui Ne late, again around 10:30 in the morning or so since it took over an hour to work on the bike. I passed the dunes, but didn’t bother to stop since it was getting late in the day and without trying to sound like a jerk; I’ve seen more impressive dunes elsewhere. I made quite a few wrong turns on my way out, but a few of them led to pleasant surprises on narrow roads.
These backroads twisted and turned, went up and over hills until they finally intersected with the main highway again. I rode for another hour or so until I went to give the bike a little gas to go up and over a hill and she started to sputter. At first I thought something was wrong, until I realized I was running out of gas. I felt like I hadn’t filled up so long ago, but it was about 50km from Mui Ne the day before, and with me getting lost adding another 40km in total, it’s really no surprise I did. Luckily it wasn’t a big deal. I pulled to the side of the road, pulled up the seat and unscrewed the gas cap to look inside. Yep, it was dry. I looked up to see how far I might have to push the bike until I reached a gas station when I saw a woman across the street in her doorway waving me over to her house. She pulled out a liter of gas and filled the tank. For 25,000 dong; 1500 more then a gas station, I was on my way. I made sure to stop at the first station I saw.
The rest of the way was pretty smooth sailing, other then the constant hassle of large trucks not caring if they run you over or not. I made it to Cam Ranh just after dark. I turned into the city to take a rest. I pulled over on a side street where some children were playing and they all ran over to me to say “hello” over and over again. So I just kept saying Xin chào (hello) every time they said it.
Close by a woman was selling sandwiches from a street stall. I wasn’t too hungry, but I knew I should eat, and I still wasn’t ready to get back on the bike after such a long ride. I walked over and ordered a sandwich as best I could. The woman’s husband came out and took a special interest in me. We ‘chatted’ for a bit, and I understood that he had two kids and was trying to explain that I wasn’t married and didn’t have any children. His wife motioned if I wanted another sandwich and I nodded my head yes even though I wasn’t hungry. After I finished the sandwiches I asked how much and she held up two fingers to say 20,000. I know Vietnam is cheap, but I wasn’t expecting two sandwiches to cost under a dollar; I was pleasantly surprised about that.
Now it was night and I wanted to make it another 60km to Nha Trang. Bugs were flying in my face, trucks weaving across the road because of larger pot holes, and the usual motorbikes who couldn’t bother to drive on the correct side of the road. Night driving has to be significantly more dangerous then driving in the day, especially when you have a headlight like mine; which is to say it barely works. It took almost another 2 hours to make the 60km to Nha Trang with the traffic, potholes and slowing down because I couldn’t see infront of me.
I arrived to a place very different then Mui Ne; with tall hotel buildingsand lots of people on the streets. This was a city, unlike Mui Ne which was one road along the ocean. I pulled just outside the center to find a guest house since usually it’s a little cheaper. Just like this sign from Mui Ne, I looked for a sign that said Nhà Nghi, which I had learned meant guesthouse. I also figuring any place with English writing is a sign that it’s overpriced.
So I pulled up to a guest house half a block from the ocean and asked the price. They told me $10 (again, I HATE that), so I moved on down the road to find something cheaper. About 4 houses down was another one, and after some confusion, I learned that a room was 140,000 ($7). If I weren’t so tired I’d probably have spent another hour looking to save another $2 since I’m such a cheap bastard, but I’m glad I didn’t.
My neck, back and ass were killing me so I was looking forward to getting a cheap massage in the city the following day to feel a little better. I guess I’ll save that for the next post though.