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Vinh to Ha Tinh
A story about an unfixable tire and luck

The journey continued from Vinh to Ha Tinh and the Lao border. This was former DMZ area. The war might be history and there's no longer the noise of bombings to hear but everywhere on the road you find the reminders of the past.

On the road from Vinh to Ha Tinh before the problems
On the road from Vinh to Ha Thin before the problems

Vinh had been unsurprisingly uninteresting. The next leg of my journey turned out to be far more interesting.

Tire problems

I was 20 km's on my way from Vinh to Ha Tinh and it was raining while I cycled through a little town Can Loc. There was little to see in town but I felt a well known feeling in the rear wheel. Having a closer look I saw ... the tube pushing itself out of the tire ... and saying BANG.

The old man fixing my tire with fishing net
The old man fixing my tire with fishing net

I looked closer and yes, it had happened again, the tire had a hole at the rim side. It wasn't an old tire, this one had been doing for about 2000 km. And it had been happening before, two times! Once in Laos in 2006 and once in Wuzhou China in 2010.

A lady was having fun seeing me in this state. Where would I be able to fix this? Not in this town, that was clear. What to do? A hole like that would not be fixed, that was clear and a new tire? I had no doubts there would be no tire in town, I probably had to go back to Hanoi.

Tire fixed with fishing net
Luck is a mindset ... had this happened only 10km further I would have had to abandon my bicycle journey from Vinh to Ha Tinh and further to the DMZ and Laos

The lady however pointed me to the opposite of the street where there was a bicycle repair shop. Having little choice, I went there. An older man started happily working on my tube. That was OK with me, although the main problem was the tire.

Once the tube was fixed he pointed his attention to the tire. He seemed to be confident to fix this too. First with a old spare tire he had, he cut a piece and tried. to get that into my tire. It didn't work.

Fixing the hole with fishing net

He left to get a new tire. After some time he came back with a tire that was not the right size. Than he came with a fishing net and started sewing the tire!

And that worked perfectly. Unfortunately there was a second hole in the tire. He fixed sewed that one too and I was able to continue. All he asked for his 2 hours work was ONE whole dollar.

Ha Tinh and an explanation about luck

The next 30 km led me to Ha Tinh, a small and uninteresting little town in north central Vietnam. On the way I already saw several war monuments. It was still pouring rain.

The road from Vinh to Ha Tinh
The rain, though not heavy at time, doesn't show much of
the scenery on the road from Vinh to Ha Tinh.

The old man had told me I would be able to get new tires in Ha Tinh but I went through the town and saw no bicycle shops. I had been able to cycle 30km on this tire but it would not last long, I was sure about that. I decided to stay in the Palace Hotel before I would take the bus to either Hanoi or Hue where I expected to find tires.

But when I passed the Palace Hotel, I gave the town one last chance, and cycled into a road I had not checked. No luck. So I went to another hotel and checked in.

By now I had accepted I had to continue by bus. And so I told the staff in the hotel. But one guy who spoke excellent English said: "give me your bike for one hour and I get you new tires..".

The road from Vinh to Ha Tinh
The next morning I cycled out of Ha Tinh ... even the rain had stopped

What did I have to loose. I didn't expect him to come back with tires but you can not win if you do not play.

An hour and 15 minutes later he came back with 2 brand new 26x1.5 inch Taiwanese tires! My bike journey was saved and my journey Vinh to Ha Tinh had been the most lucky part of my journey in Vietnam.

More about the road from Hanoi to Vinh, the road from Vinh to the Lao Bao border with Laos, the DMZ of Vietnam and further to Hue including more photos of Hue.

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Vietnam Maps

map of Vietnam
Map of Vietnam

Hanoi to Vinh

It's not the most spectacular part of Vietnam but it's a nice bike ride of several days and there's enough to keep you busy.

Ninh Binh

Ha Long Bay on land, that's what Ninh Binh is called. The beautiful limestone mountains with caves and pagoda's is worth a visit.

Vinh to the Lao Border

The journey from Vinh to the Lao border at Lao Bao was considerable more interesting as I had to pass the former DMZ:

On the way from Dong Hoi to Dong Ha