Phong Nha to Hanoi – Leg 9

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

Leg 9: Phong Nha to Hanoi– STATISTICS

Total Distance: 568km (353 miles)
Total Duration: 11hrs, 55min
Total Moving Duration: 11hrs, 34min
Average Pace: 49kmph
Max Elevation: 479m
Current Elevation: 7m

Today I had no idea where we would end up.

By all accounts there isn’t much to see and do between Phong Nha and Hanoi so I decided we would just get on the road and drive.

So with Jonny fully gassed up we departed the Farmstay at the crack of dawn heading in the direction of Hanoi.

Sunrise - Phong Nha

As the morning hours ticked away so did the kilometers mainly thanks to the outstanding road conditions and light to non-existent traffic. By lunch we were 350km closer to Hanoi and the weather was perfect and with Jonny for once behaving himself we targeted Hanoi as our end destination.

Final stretch of the HCMT

The afternoon was almost a carbon copy of the morning with excellent incident free progress made and by the time our final fuel stop rolled around at about 1500 Hanoi was only 100km away.

Once again our excellent progress tricked me into thinking that we might actually finish a leg without incident so I guess it was only fitting that Jonny decided to have the final say.

About 50km out of Hanoi we approached an intersection that marked the end of the outstanding HCMT. As I braked to make the turn toward the road into Hanoi Jonny gave me a stunning 12v jolt straight through the brake leavers. My default reaction was to throw my hands up off the handlebars;  not the best idea when you’re riding a motorbike. This situation left me about 1 second to decide what to do as we were still moving forward and the intersection was fast approaching. With no option I grabbed the brakes again and was greeted with 3 more massive jolts before the bike came to a halt.

Thoughts of dousing the bike in petrol and setting it on fire crossed my mind and it was probably lucky for Jonny that Hanoi was within throwing distance otherwise the local Vietnamese fire department (if they existed) may have been called into action.

After a bit of testing I established that the electrical short was only on the front brake so I could use the rear without fear of being electrocuted. Although 80% of braking on a scooter on the open road is via the rear brake in town you have to expect the unexpected and have no option but to grab for the extra stopping power of the front brake.

So after multiple punctures, previous electrical dramas Jonny’s final departing gift was a torturous 2 hour drive through the streets of Hanoi at rush hour where I suffered through at least 20 electrical jolts.

Feeling like I had pulled off an emergency 747 plane landing we eventually arrived in Hanoi at 1730.

Welcome to Hanoi!

Vowing that I would not go anywhere near the bike for a few days I parked up and walked somewhat bow-legged and mentally sucker punched to my accommodation.

In total we traveled 570km in one day – the longest leg by some margin and one that I would never repeat in a million years. But we made it even if the conclusion was a rather undignified end to what has been quite an astonishing journey!

Related Links:

Hanoi Review
Ho Chi Minh Trail Conclusion

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