Saturday 31 December 2016

Ha Long bay, Hanoi, engine seizure and a new year.

Well, that's another engine that's crapped itself. I didn't think I'd let another engine seize up again (I think this is now the sixth engine that's broken on me) but at least I'm pretty sure I know what went wrong with it. The beginnings of its downfall was when I had my accident on the mountain in Cat Ba island. I don't think the wheel and mudguard smashing into the top of the engine would have caused any significant damage, but I think that the way the bike lay, sort of half smashed and half propped up against the concrete post did. When I went over the top of the bike my lower body dragged against the handle bars, bending them and pulling the throttle cable to the point that the bike was on maximum revs, and as it lay on its side as I was buckled up in pain on the floor I don't think the oil could have splashed around the engine properly, and I assume the over-revving had damaged the piston rings.

Before this accident I was really pleased with the engine. The oil took around 500 miles before it became discoloured, and it burnt very little. I filled it up around 250 miles away from Cat  Ba, and when I checked the level before I set off for Hanoi it was fine. This was the first long distance day I'd done since the accident though, and something had definitely gone wrong.

I broke down 8km away from the hostel I was aiming for in Hanoi, which was quite lucky. At first I thought that I had run out of petrol as it sounded like it was starving, and seeing how I was riding alone due to two earlier punctures I asked a local to get me some fuel. This didn't have any effect though, and as we tweaked the carb I looked back at the exhaust and saw plumes of white smoke
pouring out. And as I thought 'fuck, that really isn't good', the engine locked up.

At least with this time though, there wasn't any sinking stomach feelings of dread, and I just had to laugh at it happening again. Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.
 This was yesterday evening. And from riding all day all I wanted to do was to leave my bike by the side of the road, go to my hostel, and worry about it the following day. A very nice random stranger on the street walked by though, and with good English asked what the problem was. And after I explained and stated that I was just going to leave for the evening he insisted on taking my bike to a mechanic for me, saying that he just wanted to help. It felt strange handing over my keys to a complete stranger, but I decided to trust him. He's spent the day finding me the best mechanic and getting the work done for a local price. Swings and roundabouts. I absolutely love Vietnam.

Seriously, it's amazing here. I'm not a big city kind of person, but Hanoi is excellent. I'm considering moving here at the start of the next decade after I've finished my plans for the next few years. On the boat from Cat Ba to the mainland yesterday a man who is overseeing the construction of a new port there offered me a job teaching his niece English for $30 an hour. This could actually become a reality within the next few years.

Here are some pictures of the beautiful Ha Long bay.

And here's one of me after multiple injuries, a motorcycle accident and a broken bike, still being able to climb a mountain and piss off the top of the world. Happy new year!

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