I woke to the sound of chickens and the distant murmurs from the kitchen. Of course, I could not understand the conversations, and the chickens woke me far too early, but it was a pleasant beginning to another day on the Minsk. Although this was to be our second day on the bikes, the hustle of Hanoi, our lost luggage and nagging responsibilities of everyday life were a distant memory. As I lay in my silk sleeping bag I am trying to piece together how I got here. I remember the Minsk, I remember the trucks honking at me, I remember the amazing mountain passes, I even remember parking my bike and settling into the comfort of my current home; but dinner, dancing, singing and laughing seam to be a memory as foggy as the rice paddies outside the window. As I roll over trying to place these thoughts in some rational order, my eye focuses on a now familiar sight. It is a bottle, actually an empty bottle, tipped on its side. Although I can barely see the label, I know by its shape that my lack of memory is attributed to the contents of this bottle. Yes, I now realize that it was a night of great entertainment fuelled by an unknown rice based whiskey from Highway 4.
As we begin to motivate for another day on the Minsk, our guide preps us for the days ride. His commentary goes unnoticed as one of our hosts places breakfast in front of me. As I am sipping warm tea and eating fresh cooked eggs and bread, I pick up on a bit of his monologue. He assures us that today's ride will be better than the day before. Today would be filled with mountain views, visits to villages and schools, random conversations with road side onlookers, water buffalo, some "sticky" dirt roads, and of course the Minsk. As the breakfast conversation shifts from today's ride to last nights entertainment, I realize that all eyes are looking at me. Despite my insistence that my bad jokes, off tone singing and poor dancing was due to Highway 4, I realize it is time to get out of here. Quickly we pack our saddle bags and load the bikes. We say our good buys to the wonderful family that invited us into their home and jump on the bikes. With the family waving us off on our great adventure, Scott, Mary and Ziba head up the driveway. I give my bike a little gas, let out the clutch, jerk forward two times and stall.
To the great amusement of my onlookers, I suddenly realize that the fogginess of last night had cleared. Today was going to be like many more to come; I was back on my bike and having the time of my life.
Brewster Crosby from USA