We woke up too a cool morning in Mai Chau well before the sun came up as usual. After laying on the extremely firm mattress for several hours, we decided to get an early start to the day. We made our way downstairs where we were met by the hostess. She offered us a breakfast of bread, cheese, and tea which we readily accepted. Unfortunately she was out of bread, so we spied her take off on her scooter next door to the local bread seller before returning to our table with a baguette.
As we departed, the hostess offered us a gift of a pack of gum – green tea flavor. We donned our dirty riding jackets and set off into the cool, cloudy morning.
We spent the morning climbing into ever-thickening mist and fog. As we climbed through the dense forest-lined roads, we began to spot clearings where fields of crops were squeezed into flat areas. The fields often surrounded a single small hut on stilts, with a handful of buffalo and people working in the field.
As we continued up the mountain, we were surprised to see minority villagers trekking along the road. Their brightly colored dresses and headpieces with an occasional infant strapped onto their back provided stark contrast against the thick, misty landscape. We had known we would get to visit these minority villages as we headed north, but visiting their tiny villages so far south was a pleasant surprise.
Once we had crested the summit, the roads became very slick from the condensed fog and our visibility was reduced to no more than 15 or 20 feet ahead of us. Everyone on the road was making pretty slow time and the roads were so slick, even our boots didn’t find immediate traction on the asphalt.
As we descended from our morning of climbing, we cautiously moved into position to pass an impossibly slow moving truck. I moved over to pass, but I saw dim headlights coming in my direction. Behind me, Bree easily slipped back into our lane, but as I braked to slow down enough to change lanes my rear wheel skated out from under me.
Thankfully I had made it out of oncoming traffic and into the correct lane, but I was never able to regain control of the bike. I knew I was going down, so I prepared for impact. By this point my bike had spun perpendicular to the road and skidded ahead of me and I finally made impact on my hip and shoulder and skidded briefly before coming to a stop.
Thanks to the slick roads, my long pants and motorcycle jacket held up and protected my skin. In an unfortunate stroke of luck, I had lost my gloves earlier that morning, never to be seen again, but gratefully and unexpectedly my hands were in perfect condition as well. Aside from a large bruise on my hip where I had made contact with the road, I was nothing more than dirty and wet. I jumped up and pushed the bike of the road as quickly as possible to avoid any traffic behind us, only to see that Bree had also gone down.
Bree: As I watched Ben’s bike spin out of control, I panicked, worried about where he and his bike were going to end up and praying it wouldn’t be right into oncoming traffic.Instinctively I moved to stop and help I must have slammed my brakes a little too hard because before I knew it, I was sliding down the road on my stomach. As I came to a stop, I was relieved to note Ben making his way to the side of the road, seemingly ok. I pried myself off the ground, dragged my bike to the shoulder, and started evaluating. Beyond being a bit bruised and scraped and fairly shaken up, no harm done.
A little rattled from our very first motorcycle accident, we carefully inched our way down the mountain hoping the soggy weather wasn’t going to stick around all day.