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Early Christmas Present

Friday 1st December

Today I bought myself a Christmas present… a new bike!!!

I had carefully chosen tonight’s accommodation. It is on the same road as the bike shop, so I didn’t have to cycle too far in the crazy traffic of Hanoi. It is also on the south side of the city, perfect for heading south tomorrow, and it involves no left turns to get out of Hanoi.

After checking into my new hotel I went back to the bike shop. I had already picked my bike, a mountain bike, on the previous visit but I was having second thoughts and was also looking at a touring bike. The sales assistant didn’t speak any English at all but had the two bikes out for me to look at. I wanted to ask his opinion, mostly because he would have a better idea about the roads, so I got my map out, pointed to Hanoi then Bangkok and then to the bikes. His eyes went really wide as he realised what I was asking. He did a bit more pointing to confirm he had understood me before confidently pointing to the mountain bike. He then pointed to the touring bike and mined being shaken violently.

Decision made, I made a deal on the mountain bike and a few extras. While he was busy pumping, checking and greasing my bike his two colleagues arrived. I’m not sure what he said to them but I heard the word Bangkok before they turned to look at me in amazement. I asked for 4 inner tubes (well I pointed at the tyres and held up 4 fingers) to get me started. He produced 2 boxes and then started searching the shop for another 2. Eventually he took 2 from other bikes in the shop. Finally he asked to take my picture with the bike before saying goodbye and then he appeared to say a prayer. I’m hoping that he was just praying because he thinks what I’m doing will be challenging and not that he think I’ll surely die and he asked god to save my soul.

I really hope they weren’t watching as I wheeled my bike back to the hotel rather that riding it in that crazy traffic.

Once I got to the hotel I spend the evening tinkering with the new bike. I swapped the saddle for one that I’m used to, got it set up for me and then finally added my luggage.

I get to bed by 8pm for an early night because I’m planning on missing the worst of the Hanoi traffic by leaving at 5am.

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