Coc Pai is a small town on the Vietnamese side of the Chinese border. There is a small market area in the city, as well as a welcoming restaurant that provides BBQ meats and hotdogs. It was a significant improvement over Sapa, in my opinion.
The journey to Coc Pai was the most challenging day of riding I’d ever experienced in any country. I typically don’t show more than one map, but this one should assist demonstrate a point.
Do you notice how the color of the route line shifts from blue to greenish? For that stretch of the route, Google thinks I was cycling. Google, you see, is a complete moron who should never be trusted. I relied on Google to direct me to Coc Pai, and it led me down the worst road I’d ever seen. Because the road was so bumpy, I had to keep my bike in first gear for several hours or it would have shattered.
While I was in Sapa, the weather had been foggy for two days in a row. The weather cleared up and became quite warm as soon as I departed. The land appeared to be fantastic.
To go to Coc Pai, I went into a valley and then ascended up a mountain.
The path was pleasant and enjoyable for the first part of the day’s ride.
I was soon on my way to the highlands.
The roads were excellent, and I planned to arrive in town early.
The distant mountains were breathtaking.
The sights were breathtaking. With the beautiful weather and breathtaking scenery, I was having a fantastic day.
The road began to deteriorate in quality, but it was not alarming. I’d been on far worse roads than this.
Even though the roads fluctuated between paved and unpaved, I was unconcerned. On my ride, this was very typical.
Then I passed through a little village, and the road began to deteriorate. The road seemed to end at the town’s end, but Google told me to keep driving, so I did.
Then I spent a couple hours on this walk. The boulders were so large that they were shaking my bike, and I was afraid it might break apart if I went any faster. So I kept the bike in first gear and walked down the path carefully.
The route clung to the mountain’s edge and seemed to go on forever.
I took a lot of breaks and poked and swiped at my phone a lot. What the hell had happened to Google? I couldn’t move faster than 5-10 kilometers per hour because there was nothing here.
I was halted in the middle of the road when two people on a scooter arrived from the opposite direction. One of them handed me my rain poncho, which is visible on my backpack. They picked it up and returned it to me after it had shook loose. That was very thoughtful of them!
Along the route, there were a few houses and settlements. So I wasn’t too concerned about winding up in China by accident or starving to death.
What disturbed me the most were the pathways visible on the hillside across the valley from me. I was terrified that Google was going to send me all the way over there.
Okay, enough whining about the state of the roads. It was a tough route, but it offered some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. On the journey, I also met this charming little fella.
I had set out on this journey in search of adventure, and I had found it. On the side of that mountain, it was just stunning.
I’m pretty that that far peak is China.
My images don’t show it, but there was a large river in the valley that I kept seeing views of.
I was terrified I’d be stuck on the trail after it got dark. I didn’t know how much further I had to go. The most concerning aspect of the whole affair was this. I would have been less concerned if I had knew it would only take 2 hours. The road eventually smoothed out.
I was blessed with with another breathtaking view just before entering Coc Pai.
I located a hotel and stored my bike in town. I went out for a bite to eat and a pint of beer.
I discovered a bar with beer and BBQ. When I arrived, they were putting up a new sign. I sat here for a few hours, reading my book. Containers of hot sauce, which were different from the chilies or chilies in vinegar that are ubiquitous in Vietnam, were on the tables. I’m a huge fan of hot sauce and continued ordering food just so I could smother it with it. It was fantastic!
I kept thinking about asking if I could buy a bottle of it, but I never did. I assumed I’d be able to find it at the market first thing in the morning. Perhaps the hot sauce was popular in the area. It wasn’t the case. I didn’t notice the hot sauce at the market, and I didn’t see it anywhere else. I kept kicking myself for not attempting to purchase some from the eatery. It was fantastic!
The views were among of the nicest I’ve ever seen, as much as I like to gripe about Google delivering lousy instructions. So I guess I should be thankful that Google in Vietnam is so lousy at directions. It did teach me a lesson, and from then on I began comparing the routes supplied by two GPS apps.
That night, I went back to my hotel and slept. I left the next day for Ha Giang. My Vietnamese visa was about to expire, and I saw that Ha Giang had an immigration office online. I’m hoping to get a new visa there. I hope you’ll join me on the journey the next day!