Khe Sanh to Phong Nha – Leg 8

(Click on the above image to see a reduced version of the map)

Leg 8: Khe Sanh to Phong Nha – STATISTICS

Total Distance: 244km (152 miles)
Total Duration: 6hrs, 15min
Total Moving Duration: 5hrs, 59min
Average Pace: 44kmph
Max Elevation: 823m
Current Elevation: 11m

Two of the most remote legs of the trip were now behind me and only one, today’s leg from Khe Sanh to Phong Nha, remained before the final push to Hanoi.

Once again all eyes were on Jonny who was returned to me by the local Khe Sanh mechanic at 9 o’clock the night prior after the poor chap worked on him for about 4 hours to try and locate the source of the electrical issues experienced on the previous leg.

Via my handy interpreter and host Hieu I was able to understand that something was eventually replaced and the problem was solved. Dubious I took Jonny for a quick test blast around the Khe Sanh back streets and sure enough everything seemed to be in working order.

By the time breakfast and sorting Jonny out was taken care of it was 10am and the weather was closing in.

Finally I get to use my wet weather gear!

Unfortunately it really isn’t that exciting as Motorbiking on wet concrete road really isn’t that much fun.

Today’s leg was broken down into two stages. The first of which was almost a mirror image of yesterday’s problematic stage, except there were no problems, just heaps of cloud.

Khe Sang to Phong Nha - HCMT

Even with the wet road we made pretty good progress, amazing what happens when you don’t get a puncture, and it wasn’t long before we were gassing up under clearing skies at the half way point of the leg.

The second stage of the trip was considerably more enjoyable under beautiful blue skies and completely incident free. This stage took us through the Phong Nha National Park that as I was soon to learn is just as interesting as it is beautiful.

road-to-ph3

All the previous inhabitants of the National Park were asked/forced to move out so this entire stretch of about 100km is completely void of any settlements including gas stations so make sure you fill up before you enter the park.

The access to this park is manned and is equipped with barrier arms. On the day that I motored through the arms were up so I just cruised right through and subsequently found out that the only time they drop the arms is when they are checking traffic leaving the park for native wood/animals. So if you are heading into the park and the arms are down don’t panic! Just tell the guard that you’re heading to Phong Nha Township or Paradise Cave and you should get let through.

The trip through the National Park is actually a climb over a mountain pass and at the very top of the pass you have a direct line of sight to the South China or Eastern Vietnamese Sea (depending on who you’re talking to).

Given this stretch of road most closely resembles the actual route of the HCMT the American’s would blast this mountain range from the comfort of their destroyers out to sea.

View of the South China Sea from the top of the summit

As the kilometers ticketed away it was looking increasingly likely that I would actually complete a leg without a blow out of some description. Finally I could sit back, relax and enjoy the ride and this was the most stunning so far.

road-to-ph4

Related links:

Previous Leg: Da Nang to Khe Sanh
Phong Nha Review
Next Leg: Phong Nha to Hanoi

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