If you haven’t read the previous parts of my journey through Vietnam on a motorbike and you are already reading this, you probably couldn’t care less so I won’t even bother linking you to parts 1, 2 or 3! Haha. Let’s just get on with this flippin’ journey and go and have our supper shall we? Yes, great. Well actually I have already had supper but if you live in a country west of Australia then chances are that you haven’t even thought about what you are going to cook yourselves for dinner…what’ll it be tonight eh? God, this is boring reading so far, I apologise.
In this post I will tell you how you can deal with angry dogs in Asia, what happens when your tyre busts in busy traffic, all about my stay in hell and there’s also some video clip of Vietnamese mechanics laughing at me as my journey south continues…
DAY 8: DA LAT – DA LAT | DISTANCE COVERED 0km
As you can tell from the above title, on day 8 I finally treated myself to a day off from riding the bike! Hurrah! I really felt like I needed it. So what did I do with my day off? Stroll around, sit in cafes whilst listening to jazz and just generally relaxing? Did I heck! I did this instead!:
Canyoning in Da Lat! That was an awesome experience and I won’t talk too much about it. You can just watch it in the video and that basically tells all.
In Da Lat, I stayed at a guesthouse called ‘Cam Tu Cau’ on Nguyen Van Troi. This was honestly one of the nicest places I stayed in Vietnam. It was $8 per night and if you wanted breakfast in the morning (baguette, jam, butter, eggs) it was an extra $1 I think. The owner was really friendly and I can’t recommend it highly enough. A lot of people who go to Da Lat stay in the ‘Family Hostel’ which is a crazy experience so my friends have told me. A family basically opened their home up and anyone who stays there becomes part of their family. They will hug you, kiss you, treat you with love, just like all of the other millions of backpackers who cram into this crowded space – good luck getting into the shower without waiting. Everyone eats together and it is highly recommended by many people due to the experience they have here. I didn’t really need any more craziness in my life at this point so I opted for Cam Tu Cau and was not disappointed!
Whilst in Da Lat I also went to the ‘Crazy House’…no I am not talking about the Family Hostel haha, I am talking about a house that was designed and built by architect Đặng Việt Nga. It is described as a ‘fairy tale house’ and was also used as a hotel at one point, although now it seems to just be a local tourist attraction. Here are some pictures from this mad construction (which also happened to still be under construction!).
The view from the roof of the Crazy House!
Inside one part of the Crazy House!
This is just pure craziness!
A man I don’t know posing on the roof of the Crazy House, Da Lat, Vietnam, 2014!
Another interesting thing to see in Da Lat is the old railway station. Well, interesting if you like to look at old trains like this one:
Look, it’s an old train! The back carriage has been turned into a cafe, where I had a drink before I left. Crazy story huh?!
Otherwise you really shouldn’t visit. I actually had dinner in an old train nearby the night before, which was a bit pricey for my budget but I wanted to have dinner in a train. So I did. Yep. I even had a banana split for dessert because, you know, I’m worth it.
DAY 9: DA LAT – DAU GIÂY | DISTANCE COVERED 233km
I’m almost in Ho Chi Minh. Wow, just thinking about this time really brings back the emotion I was feeling at the time. I was buzzing, feeling positive and excited to have made it all the way down the country in such a short period. As I was riding I would often think about all of my friends back home and then look at myself, what I was doing and then think about how lucky I was to be living these moments…not to say that life in London isn’t special and amazing of course but, well….you know…it’s not really the same! I had seen much along the way, had many amazing experiences and I knew that this was one journey that I would never forget.
So on this leg of the journey a couple of crazy things happened!
So I head out of Da Lat and make my way south. I stop for lunch in a place called Bao Loc. I order some spring rolls and mi xao bo (it seems like this is all I ate there, but I did try a variety of other foods!). So out comes a HUGE plate of salad with seafood and a HUGE plate of mi xao bo. The spring rolls had obviously been lost in translation! Maybe the guy who ordered the salad got them? Well probably not seeing as though I was the only one in this restaurant. Weirdly, I seemed to be like the only person in town…it was strangely quiet and many places were closed. Maybe they heard I was coming? But it was a very nice, scenic town and I ate whilst overlooking a lake. This lake right here:
Whilst eating my huge salad and noodles, a whole swarm(if that’s the right word!?) of flies would just not leave me alone. Great story eh? Haha
So I eventually head off from the fly infested, lack of spring rolls, salad eating town and make my way further south. I could have made it all the way to Ho Chi Minh but I wanted to stay somewhere cheaper and thought that if I stopped further out I could save money. Which I did. I didn’t see any signs for ‘Hell’ but regardless that seems to be where I ended up! But I will get to that in a moment because this journey was not going to be an easy one! (is the journey to Hell ever meant to be easy?)
So I am riding along happy as Larry and I enter a town. The roads are getting busier the closer I get to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) and there are more and more buildings and less and less scenic countryside/mountain views! All of a sudden something changes in my bike’s handling and I start skidding all over the road. The back wheel was skidding around all over the shop like I was on ice! I was travelling at substantial speed and I almost lost control of the bike and came close to a crash. My first thought was that my wheel had come loose or something crazy like that…is that even possible? Hey don’t judge I’m not a mechanic! So I manage to stop the bike at the side of the road and turn around to look at my back wheel and my back tyre is completely flat.
A passing lady sees me in trouble and leads me to a mechanic, which is about 20 paces away. Seriously they are EVERYWHERE! So what exactly was the problem? It was this:
It was a massive nail!
Inner tube burst! Doh!
The guys fixing it/hanging around thought that it was absolutely hilarious. Well I am glad that my near death experience amuses you so much gentlemen! Hahaha. Actually here is a clip of them laughing at me!:
Laughing AND pointing…charming!
Again, they were super friendly and they changed my inner tube rather quickly. Then we all had a right old knees up and off I went. But not before this guy turned up to show off his new leg warmers:
Nice style mate. Where can I get some?
I pay the guys and continue on the road to my next stop – Hell. Oh sorry, I mean my guesthouse at Dãu Giây! So as I arrive the guy leads me down to the back of the property to show me his cheapest room ($7 I think?). Outside the room I meet the Guardian of Hell:
“Where should I put my bike Sir?”…”in my room you say?”…”oh ok, errrrm, cool…?”:
As I bring in the bike, I settle down and have a shower (which was basically a pipe coming out of the wall) when all of a sudden I am attacked by a giant flying beetle! ARGH! And not just that, he has brought all of his friends along as well. Great. These guys basically terrorise me all night. They must have been sent by the Guardian:
Just one of the many flying beetles from hell.
So after the pipe shower with my new beetle buddies, I’m getting peckish I think. So off I trot to grab some food from the attached restaurant there. Walking from my room to the restaurant though turns out to be no easy task as I am all of a sudden being surrounded by dogs. There were at least 5 of them and it was though they hadn’t eaten in a week and I was their dinner! Pretty scary if you are not used to this kind of stuff but this had happened to me before and I knew what to do. So ladies and gentlemen, here is my tip for:
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU GET SURROUNDED BY ANGRY, BARKING DOGS IN ASIA!?
Many people’s first instinct is to run. Don’t run. They will chase you. And probably bite you on your ass. Nobody wants that.
Many other people’s first instinct is to stand there and do nothing. Don’t just stand there. You’ll never get rid of them and there is more chance that one of them will bite you.
Many other other people’s first instinct is to attack/kick the dog(s). Don’t do this. Animal cruelty is not cool and you really don’t want to pick a fight with an angry dog!
Many other other other people’s first instinct is to try to slowly make their way through/away from the dogs and hope they will let you pass because you are not a threat. This is a risk. They will probably try to bite you anyway.
Many other other other other people’s first instinct is to shout and act big and try to intimidate the dogs. I didn’t really try this but I am assuming that it isn’t the best idea as you will just rile the dogs up even more.
MY METHOD FOR DEALING WITH ANGRY DOGS IN ASIA IS AS FOLLOWS:
If you bend down and pretend that you are picking something up from the ground, it seems to scare the dogs and they back away. Possibly because they think you are about to throw something at them (as many people do in Asia), or maybe they are just unsure of what exactly you are up to and so back away through caution. I got surrounded/approached/barked at by a fair few dogs in Asia and this method always seemed to work. I leant it in India. You will most likely have to keep bending down as you are passing them and maybe even pretend to throw something at them as, even though they are scared, often they are just trying to defend their property and so don’t back down easily. Oh and most importantly, STAY CALM! They will sense your fear and eat you if you aren’t careful. (that last point may not be entirely truthful)
So using this method I eventually made my way through the pack of dogs and ordered my food. It was one of the worst pho bo’s (see I don’t always eat mi xao bo!) that I had in all of Vietnam. And as I was eating it, a guy comes over to me and acts like I need to slurp harder and make more noise. Well that’s what I got from his sign language. To which everyone seemed to think was rather funny. I was clueless as to what the hell was happening to be honest. And all the while I was thinking “ah shite, I’ve got to make my way back through that pack of dogs just to get to my room!”… This place really wasn’t worth that $7 I paid. So I actually get escorted back to my room so that the dogs don’t attack me. But now I am stuck in a room, being attacked by giant beetles and unable to leave for fear of being mauled by dogs. Whilst outside, the Guardian of Hell is probably having a little chuckle to himself about the whole affair.
I thought that this would be the last part of my journey through Vietnam on a motorcycle, but I have spent far too long rambling on about crap as usual and so will finish up the last stretch in ‘Part 5’! Well at least you learnt how to deal with angry dogs so look on the bright side!