As soon as I entered Vietnam, the road became paved. I really loved cycling through the mountains in Northern Vietnam from Dien Bien Phu to Hanoi on Highway 6. It had been awhile since I’d had a smooth, paved road and mountain scenery.
On the road, I had a lot of emotional swings. When I was down, it usually meant I needed to eat. But sometimes it was also the insincere hellos, and the people laughing at me. One morning all this was really getting to me when a taxi driver pulled up in front of me, looked back at me, and gave me a sincere thumbs up. It was odd how much that meant to me, but my attitude completely changed for the better.
As I was climbing the last big mountain in the late afternoon of my second-to-last day, I had to stop for water. I was focused and in a rush — no fun, no happiness — just get up the mountain. As I entered the shop, there were a couple of young guys drinking. One of them handed me his bottle of beer, and the shopkeeper brought out a full jug of water for me. I gave up my focus for a few minutes, and had some fun with these guys. They offered me a smoke out of their bamboo bong, but I’m too much of a prude, so I passed. I thanked them and soldiered on up the mountain.