It was after lunch and we had two options to get to Ha Gian: to follow the initial plan or to follow the unknown. For the first option we had the route track, a description of the way, the total ascend and the certantainty that the road was paved. For the second option we had some information from Google, showing a secondary road and with less ascend than option one, that’s it.
We finally decided to follow the unknown once we saw in the intersection that the road was in pretty good conditions. We had 28 km ahead and we were aware of the risks. I guess that to follow the unknown is the ultimate expression of the explorer, perhaps this is what we felt after a reinvigorating bath in the river and a reinforcing lunch.
We rode about 10 km in a newly paved road with beatiful surroundings of high mountains with deep valleys guiding water streams. Then is when the road stopped existing to become a mountain path. At that point we could come back and take the inicial route, or carry on with the hope that the paved road would come back after few quilometers. We kept on going to the unknown. The road was in very bad condition, very eroded and with loose big stones, making our average speed as walking speed. After few quilometers more we noticed that the paved road was not existing and we would probably need to make several quilometers more on that road conditions. We had no turning back, it was too late. We had to speed up, it was getting dark and we were running out of water. We were in the middle of a primary forest, with impressive trees and very dense jungle. We had a tent, altough difficult to set, the mountain was so steep and full of vegetation, the road side was inexistent.
After few quilometers more it got dark. We stopped to set the bicycle lights and kept on going. After 200 m I realized that something was wrong with my bicycle. There was something stopping my rear wheel! I jump off the bicycle and I saw that my rear rack was totally twisted. With the vibration a screw jumped out and the weigh of the panniers did the rest of the work. It was something fixable but I would need some time. This was the end of our cicling day. Then we saw a motorcycle aproching in our direction. It was a couple of the ethnic minority Hmong who were going home. They stopped and we pointed at our bicycle showing my damaged rear rack. After doing the sleeping gesture they understood that we needed somewhere the spend the night, and without hesitation they pointed to the direction we came from. They were inviting us to spend the night at their home!
Their home was was a clay house with bamboo roof. They had two buffalo’s, pigs, chickens, and many small dogs and cats. We entered trough the small door and we met some other members of the family. The house was full of smoke, they boosted the fire on the floor of the next room in order to make the dinner. We were ehausted and dirty. We cleaned ourselves with a big bowl of water and we were invited for dinner. We ate together and they show us where to sleep. After, we socialized a bit and the man smoked with the traditional water pipe made of Bamboo. They let us sleep in their own bed, they would sleep in another room.
I woke up with the sound of the inhalation from smoking water pipe. It was around 6 am and every body was awake. We got started and we ate breakfast, the same as for dinner last night: rice with some vegetables, pork and soup. After breakfast I fixed the bicycle. The man gave me some of his tools in order to twist back the aluminium plate of my rack. Then, we were ready to go. We paid them some money as a gratitude for their hospitality and they gave us two huge cucumbers from their garden. We took some pictures and we started the new cicling day towards Hà gian after being hosted in the middle of a beatiful landscape by Hmong people. What a wonderful people!