PART TWO Nongchan to Bualapha and Vilabury area Lots of fun here. Try to stay well to the West of what looks to be the main route and you will find small tracks connecting small villages together, one after the other. It does help to have someone like Mai with you though for there are many tracks that wonder off in just about every direction and what looks to be the correct way, more often then not is just a tease to keep you on your toes. 10km South of Vilabury we took a proper dirt road that headed off to the East and the map indicated that it might get us all the way to the VN border. After 24Km of the proper dirt road scaling itself down in expectations, it simply Ended. Like not even a goat track beyond. Dong Due North of Dong there’s a not so bad track that heads off towards Alang Noy. Limited day light left in the day, meant turning back, but it seems that quite possibly this would be doable. But would not connect back up and around to Vilabury which had been our original hope when going East from Vilabury. Mai chats with the locals A good use of left over war surplus Mai buys an 1833 Indochine coin A MAG worker explaining to Mai what they find and how they find it When I came home from this area in 1968 I had been working just across the hills and a bit to the North The best partner there is to travel with – Mai Dong to Nong onwards to Ta Oi Went West of Nong looking for tracks and they are there and connect further to the West and over to tracks radiating out from just West of Xepon. The Gecko map is pretty accurate here with its Lat/Longs for these tracks where they intersect the main North south rout between Dong and Nong. Nongs got a pretty impressive array of Chinese goods, mostly being of the farming and hardware type along with a nice beauty saloon and nice looking staff. And if you go West out of town instead of going South and East as is the normal track, you can find where Mat Ward (Mat just wrote to me today and said that those are his words), “where the Fuck did that river come from”. When you eventually find out how to cross the river, you come into a village with no real discernable way out other then single tracks. So when in doubt of course, you take the wrong track out of the village, again and again and again. If you do a Google Earth for this area, you can see the river crossing point and you also get a Satellite’s view of what’s down there to ride. But when at ground level and looking through tunnels of bamboo, with the base of the track being hand laid rocks indicating that in fact, it is part of the Ho Chi Minh trail, you can convince yourself that maybe you are on the right track so you just keep on going, albeit the wrong way. the nice thing about only having a 7 liter fuel tank, is that it keeps you aware of where the next bottle of gas is going to come from and before you get too carried away and too out of touch with reality, you head back to the local fill’m up. And the local fill’m up might be 2-3 times the cost of what it is in the Big City, but it’s nice to contribute a bit to the local community, plus my Butt was always looking for rest, the seat of the 400 not being all that cushy. With a little more gas in the tank, we finally got our exit point out of town correct. When Mat Ward got to this area a couple of years ago, he said when coming upon this river, “where the Fu.. did this river come from?. These nice guys show us how to get around and across it But easy to get lost once across Lost again are we David? Now we know what this is, it’s a bridge. The question was; how to use it? UXO – unexploded ordinance Taking a moment to be serious. Mai no longer walks off into the bushes when in areas such as this. Between Nong and Ta Oi and within the 3 weeks prior to our riding this area, one 750 pound unexploded bomb was found by children playing in the river in Ta Oi and two people died directly along side the main road. When we came upon 2 MAG teams, they were working and marking within 50 centimeters of the roads edge. One of the MAG workers was a lady and she and Mai compared notes on bathroom etiquette – there are none – only safety first; don’t leave the main track/road!