Part 4 of 4
The Final Stretch of Freeway
Betty Was Getting Tired
Next, we arrived in Lao Cai and we were faced with the steep road up into the mountains of Sapa. Our bike was struggling. It was overheating, and the sun was setting. We were given one piece of advice, never ride that road at night! I can totally understand why, it’s bloody dangerous! At one stage we almost got pushed off the road by a bus trying to overtake a truck on a blind corner.
Fortunately we weren’t driving on the edge of the cliff side of the road which has a sheer 100m drop to the valley below. I’m petrified of heights, so the drive to Sapa pushed me to my limits. I was no longer taking notice of the incredible rice fields and mountains, I was literally closing my eyes and screaming at Dylan to “beep the horn” around every corner. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy this particular bit of the trip.
You can see remnants from previous land slides by the side of the road on the way to Sapa and broken railings where cars have clearly crashed and fallen off the edge! But there are also incredible waterfalls flowing beneath the road, so you’re surrounded by beauty!
You can see remnants from previous land slides by the side of the road on the way to Sapa and broken railings where cars have clearly crashed and fallen off the edge! Click To Tweet
However, our ordeal was not over yet. Whilst going up the steep ascent to Sapa our motorbike ceased up. It turned itself off and our engine was steaming. We were done for… Our phones were dead, it was getting dark, what the hell were we going to do?
Mechanics Do Not Come Cheap In Rural Vietnam…
After waiting 20 minutes or so for the engine to cool down we tried to push on. Fortunately, pretty soon, we found a mechanic. We have no idea about motorbikes! Like none at all. We did do some research and we knew how much we should expect to pay for this and that, but I guess fair prices go out of the window when you break down in a remote location…
400,000 dong later (which sounds an awful lot but to be fair is about $18 US Dollars), an oil change, new spark plug and apparently something else which we didn’t understand but just accepted needed doing, and we were back on the road to Sapa. The problem was not completely fixed, but at least we had the peace of mind that we hadn’t completely messed the bike up just 3 days into our trip.
It was pushing night fall, all we could do was hope that little Betty the Honda Wave could make it. We were stopping at any safe chance we got so we could give the engine a break. We were even tossing up whether to flag down a bus or a cab for me and the bags, whilst Dylan tried to push on to Sapa, but we thought, even if there was one going past where was it going to stop?
Thankfully, eventually we reached the outskirts of Sapa and stopped at the very first guesthouse we saw!
Finally We Made It
After running out of petrol, stumbling upon a monastery, getting lost, having tons of bike dramas, driving deep into the Hoang Lien Mountain range, having to stay at a local family’s house, visiting villages, trekking through rivers and mud pits, tons of backtracking and time wasting, realising that we could have driven the freeway all along but managing to appreciate the beautiful scenery, we had finally made it to Sapa!
We just wish that it had only taken us 7 hours, like it said on Google Maps! Ah well… it was finally time for a beer, some good food and a good nights rest. Hopefully we won’t get lost on our way back to the hotel..
If you enjoyed this tale by the Honeymoon Backpackers you may also like How I Climbed Mount Pulag and Came Back Down a Graduate or How We Spent 72 Hours in Hong Kong by John Harvey Perez.
- Honeymoon Backpackers Monique & Dylan, have been travelling the world for over a year! It all began in May 2016, in the Philippines, where they got married barefoot on White Beach Boracay. Instead of having one elaborate honeymoon trip, they chose to embark on an endless backpacking honeymoon! In total they've explored 17 countries together so far. Their aim is to reach all 7 continents around the world on their endless backpacking honeymoon. We think they are our most romantic Wanderlusters yet!