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  • Writer's pictureEliane Bowden

Why Did the Dog Cross the Road?

After the accident, I was ready to call off the rest of the bike trip and wait out our remaining time in Vietnam on a warm beach somewhere far away. Sitting there on the edge of a ditch, remnants of my left mirror smashed on the road, soaked with rain and gasoline, bruised, scratched, and more than a little rattled, was not how I thought my day was going to go. Though I don’t think anyone ever thinks they’ll hydroplane and lay down their bike into oncoming traffic when they wake up in the morning. At least I provided some amusement for the family of five standing across from me, though I found their meek attempts at communication and total lack of assistance during the ordeal wholly unhelpful.

Our day started off much more pleasantly. Excited to get the heck out of Sa Pa, bums well rested after two days off our bikes, and spurred on by a new road that weaved its way lazily down the mountain, we were making excellent timing towards our next accommodation. That is, until the rain hit. At first it was just a few drops, but quickly those splashes gave way to a solid downpour. We stopped at a gas station and donned our rain gear before heading back out. Though it took some adjusting to, we quickly got used to the rain, and soon it became part of the background like everything else.

By this point, the beautiful mountain highway on which we started our day had long given way to familiar country roads dotted with clusters of shabby homes every 10 minutes. You should know that each country home in Vietnam seems to come with its very own feral dog or two. They laze on the rice or corn kernels being laid out to dry in the sun or sit scratching themselves. Some jog alongside the road or lazily cross in front of oncoming traffic, their saggy titties gently slapping their sides as they pad along.

We were only 30 minutes out from our lodging when two of these dogs decided to dash across the road immediately in front of Jared. The combination of the slick road, Jared’s reaction to the dogs, and my heightened sensitivity to stimuli (read: jumpiness), created the perfect conditions for what came next. I pulled on my brakes and immediately felt my bike hydroplane across the pavement. Unable to regain control, it slipped out from under me, and I slammed into the road, sliding with my bike some distance across the asphalt. Luckily for me, I didn’t get caught under my bike. Even luckier than that, I did not collide with the truck that was driving in the opposite direction. It had already slowed and came to a halt just four feet from my bike ended up. I’d like not to think what may have happened if the driver wasn’t paying as close attention.

By the time I had gotten up, Jared was running back and helping me move my bike off the road. We stayed there for a little while, Jared picking up the bits of broken mirror as I worked through some jitters, but we had no choice, we needed to keep riding. Dusk was approaching.

After what felt like hours of driving, we finally made it to our destination. Fortunately, this was one of the best places we stayed along our trip. Surrounded by lush forests, the Cinnamon Ecolodge seemed to envelope us as we rolled towards it; the air becoming thicker like a weighted blanket. We arrived just in time to let them know we wanted dinner and then were shown to our bungalow: a comfortable room with high ceilings, its own porch looking out at the surrounding jungle, and a new looking bed.

It was time to take stock of the accident’s aftermath. My rain pants had a gaping rip on the left side, my new Patagonia rain jacket no longer looked new, and my bag’s rain cover was completely shredded. Luckily for me, I walked away with only a few scratches on my toe and a shocked joint, a medium sized bruise on my hip, and relatively mild whiplash. We washed the mud from my clothes and bag, I bandaged up my toes, and I parked myself on the covered porch to decompress, savouring the sound of rain and crickets.

Dinner that night was exceptional - as if our host had known exactly what foods would comfort me. All that was left to do was decide if we would keep going. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay there as much as we wanted to. We had to get our bikes to a major city even if we decided to end the journey early. We gave ourselves until morning to make the call.


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