When I first started planning my trip to South East Asia I continually thought of adventures that would take me off the beaten path, adventures that would be grand stories to tell my grandkids some day. Well little did I know that 5 days into this trip I would have just that. I realize I am skipping the part of my stay in Ho Chi Minh City but I will get back to that. While sitting on the beach trying to enjoy the last of the good weather for a couple days I randomly got wifi and a message from one of the canadians I met the night before. They were renting motorbikes and going to see the Bo Ho Waterfalls. Its about a 45min ride and a hike to see the falls. I immediately rushed to meet them and rent a bike. For 100,000 VMD ($5USD) each, the three of us were quickly on our way. I was not nervous for riding a bike for the first time, I was nervous for the crazy traffic in Vietnam. Red lights are suggestions, lines do not matter and merging is better done with your eyes closed and a leap of faith. I can't be more serious on how chaotic their traffic is. First stop was for gas. As I was getting changed the gas lady walked away and when she came back she said she had put the right amount in. I was skeptical but thought I may just have been to occupied counting money that I had missed it.
With no data service or gps of my own I follow the two canadians. The leader with the Gps and map immediately took a turn we missed and we were without him. Thinking his friend would meet us at the waterfalls we relied in my downloaded map on my phone. So were off again. Once out of the city it was a little easier to enjoy motorbiking. Driving beach side with the mountains in the background was absolutely surreal. Pulling over occassioanly to check the map delayed us a little bit. The falls closed at 430 and we were getting close.
Finally we made it. We hoped our third companion would have met us there but we didn't see him or his bike. We decide to hike on up anyway. Part path, part man made crazy contraptions you can hike up to the top of the water fall. Along the way beautiful pools of water and smaller falls are just aching to be jumped in.
Its getting darker and we agree to see the smaller part of the falls and relax for a little while and then head back. The water was a cool blue green and so peaceful with only the last few hikers sharing the falls. After cooling off and taking some photos we head back.
The ride back was getting dark and started to rain a bit. With only a tank top on the rain drops felt like pellets against my skin. We were just getting into the city when going through and intersection my bike stalls. These types of streets take no prisoners. I was quickly going to be run over if I didn't move to the side of the road. By the time I got my bike over my leader was too far ahead to notice I was gone. The beautiful falls quickly fading from my recent memory.
So, then there was one. No GPS, no wifi, no data, NO way of communicating with the locals. I asked a man on a parked bike behind me to help. He tried a few things and explained the best he could there might be a shop back a ways that could help. I roll my bike against traffic to where I see a man with tools. I ask or help and he immediately dismisses me. Waves me off, not even making contact with my pleading eyes. Behind him a Vietnamese woman is pointing across the street to me. All I can see if street food vendors and retail stores that would be of no use to me.
Minutes pass. She walks over to me and points at my gas tank. I shake my head acknowledging that I believe I'm out of gas. She hold up a finger to indicate shell be back in one minute then scurries across 6 lanes of chaos. I see her speaking to a food vendor and then she holds up a water bottle full of gas. She runs back across and I am prepared to pay her whatever she wanted for it. I had a 100,000 bill out and she pushing it away only asking for 30,000. Truthfully, I would have given her every cent in my pocket. We pour the gas in and start her up and that was that. I thanked her so much even though she didn't understand anything I was saying. I still had about a 25 min ride to get back to the drop off location. I checked my map and was on my way.
To be honest, it was terrifying and liberating all at once. Everything that could go wrong, aside from injury did. But it was ok and I worked through what usually would have put me in meltdown mode . The guy we lost early on went back to the hostel and the second ended up pulling in a few min after me. If that isn't a story to tell my grandkids some day then I don't know what is.
If this is any indication of how the rest of my trip is going to go. Bring it on!