Monday, 13 September 2010
The Third Evolution
So here we are. The moment that kept me riding onwards during some miserable days in Eastern Europe has arrived. Georgie is here! Taking her place as Riding East's second addition and beginning the 3rd distinct stage of the trip for me (Stage 1 being the two months riding solo from home to Istanbul; Stage 2, the three months riding across the Middle East with Adam), she'll be documenting things in her own way here. After more than 7 months apart things picked up pretty much where they left off as I met her at the airport - it felt like we'd only been apart for a week or 2. For those that know us, that also includes stresses and arguments - it'll take a few weeks to work each other out and develop the right tactics for dealing with life on the road, but with us that's half the fun.
Thanks to Georgie's arrival and expectedly high level of enthusiasm I've been a tourist in Hanoi after 2 weeks of avoiding it. Many miles have been walked and, being a pretty compact city, most of what's there to see has been seen - Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, though he's currently in Russia being cleaned; his Presidential palace adorned with photos of Marx and Lenin; the Confucian Temple of Literature, a university dating from the 11th century; a bunch of rockets and a Mig used to shoot down Americans in the '70s; the French Quarter; the Old Quarter where the real (though tourism-corrupted) Hanoi is, and Hoan Kiem lake and its temple complete with giant tortoise. Today was the day to apply for visas, so far just the Cambodian one at a bargain price of $20, and get back on the bike to test it our after 7 weeks off - my body finally felt at home for the first time since dismounting in Delhi on the 22nd July!
Tomorrow is Day 1 and our departure on the way to Ha Long Bay on the Tonkin Gulf coast. Both of us will need to ease in to the riding gently so the 100 miles or so will take 2 or 3 days which will give us a chance to asses what riding in Vietnam is like in terms of food, water, roads and accommodation, the situation with which is so different in every country.
I think we're both looking forward to it - stay tuned to see how it goes!