With my bike loaded up I left my excellent hosts at Chez Linh Linh homestay in Ba Dinh and headed back into the old district where I had arranged to meet up with Steve. This gave me another opportunity to look around Hanoi and the market in particular. People were already gearing up for ‘Tết’; the Vetnamese Spring festival and which coincides with the Chinese New Year celebrations. Given the short time I had to explore Hanoi I hoped to find my way back there at some point during this trip. Maybe..
My journey was delayed a little by an overturned scooter that brought the flood of traffic to a halt. I caught up with Steve just East of the Cho Dong Xuan; Hanoi’s oldest market. Once again we crossed Gustav Eiffel’s Long Biên bridge over the Sông Hồng or Red River. I followed Steve’s chosen route out through Hanoi’s Eastern suburbs towards Haiphong via the QL18. It would take a day or two and involved some quite heavy road work along busy main roads. This in itself dampened spirits and not quite the bucolic journey that Steve had anticipated. Certainly Google maps aren’t always the cyclists friend when planning such things. Regardless the roadside cafes provided good food (Pho) and a cheap hotel magically appeared for an overnight stop. With heads down and a bit of determination we dropped South down via the QL183 and tackled the AH14 main road to Haiphong. It was altogether a bit crap and another heavy dual carriageway. But we did it without incident..
I had retrieved a discarded hat from a roadside ditch and a man had added a strap for me. For fun I wore it on my way into Haiphong. To her amusement I popped it onto the head of this lady who was running a roadside cafe by the main roundabout leading in to the city. I downed a very welcome celebratory Hanoi beer. Phew.
We had made it to Haiphong (Hải Phòng); Hạ Long Bay and the South China sea!