I was up at 4:15 to get ready to go, coming off of a surprisingly restful night of sleep. I met Lyle at his hotel in downtown, and feasted on a resplendent hotel breakfast. At 7:00, we hit the road, properly. I steeled myself for the adventure ahead: getting out of Hanoi. Careening around motorbikes, cars, and the odd bicycle, I started to enjoy myself. It was loud, horns piercing the air, and motorbike engines blending into an audial backdrop. The sky was a gray reflection of the pavement. I had to quickly snap into the mentality of driving in Vietnam. It’s paradoxical: everyone for themself, and yet everyone yields just enough to let everything move smoothly enough. The speed is incredibly slow too, no more than 20mph, which means that it’s easy to keep up on a bicycle. All in all, not so bad. I found my stride, and managed not to have an accident.
Coming to the outskirts of Hanoi, the traffic started to fade, the landscape began to transition to lush forest with a green mountain range straight ahead. All around though, was construction. The intersection with the Ho Chi Minh Highway came quickly, this is the road I would be on all the way into Saigon. Lyle and I took a quick coffee break, applauding each other on making it out of Hanoi - but we still had 40 miles to do.
Overall, that first day felt mighty good. I had fresh legs, and I was energized to be “doing” the trip finally. There was a lot of preparation leading up to the trip, and now, it’s just my legs that need to cooperate. The hotel I stayed at was simple, with a firm mattress. But the water was hot, and the blankets warm, so I needed nothing more. Staggering out of the hotel to find a bowl of soup, I felt incredibly tired. It was an early night, I got all my lights and stuff plugged in, and fell deeply asleep under a fleece blanket.