At the gate

Saturday morning. Again we find ourselves at the gates of spiritual wandering, walking through and recalling Papa Legba. was the domain name I owned while living in London. Somehow I only ended up keeping and now, I start recalling the master of roads and pathways, Papa Legba.

A boy had invited us in. Butterflies are flying around, tranquility fills the courtyard and a nun approached and greeted us with a smile. Permission to stroll around and photograph is granted. Even Buddha is greeting us with a smile as we walk around.

The smiling Buddha

Further back we found another statue being led by two elephants.

Statue in the backyard

And of course, a visit is never complete unless we do a proper close up of incense sticks.

Close up of incense sticks (joss sticks)

Overall, a great start on our journey to the Mekong. We have finally found the right direction, even a road atlas have been purchased in advance of the trip. We politely declined to stay for lunch as we wanted to reach Ben Tre within reasonable time and headed off on the road again.

Riding. Wind in our faces, sun shining strongly and thinking about Outrun. Stormy clouds were chasing us and we just managed to stay in front of them, thinking we had to get some milage between us. Panda made us stop. How could we miss a panda stop when we have a charming one saying “Hello!” in Vietnamese.

Hello Panda!

It was a quick “Hi & Bye!” with our newfound Panda friend. Time for us to get some lunch. Finding places that serves food is easy, but finding the right place to stop and eat is more difficult. How do we know where to stop? Easy, we do as the locals, we see which place got lots of customers and we also stop there. Works like a charm, food is always good. As we had just finished our meal, a bird vendor parked his motorbike outside, put a stick on the side to keep the bike from falling over and walked inside. Not sooner had he placed his supporting stick in the ground and we were out, cameras switched on and we got clickety-click-click on the birds. Got some birds nailed alright.

Inside looking out, bird in bird cage

The shadow birds

Off we went again. Stopped briefly at pagoda-in-construction site and ventured to the old grounds behind and found the tattooed tongue statue.

The tattooed tongue statue

That was the last pagoda stop for the day. Next up was bridges.

Bridges on the roadside to Ben Tre, Mekong area

Then waterways.

Fishing net by the riverside

Then another bridge.

Bridge across the river

Roads. Country side roads and crossroads. We took a right from the main road and never looked back. Just headed deeper and deeper and got a taste of off road riding with the bike. Forget about going here with a car. The pathway at some points barely supports one bike in width. Houses to the left, pathway in the middle and river to the right. Either pay a visit to a stranger or risk a bath when you meet another bike going the opposite way.

Country side road

A road shrine along the pathway and Papa Legba reoccured in my thoughts. Indeed a master of roads and crossroads.

Road shrine in the Mekong

Finally we found a larger road leading to the main road and we were again connected to the flow of buses, trucks, cars and motorbikes. From being off-line to be back on the grid again. Time to head back as daylight faded away. Most accidents take place after dark and extra vigilance is needed when traveling on the road. Darkness did not manage to prevent us from further capture. Our last shot for the day.

Full moon by the road side

As we headed closer to Saigon, more bikes were whizzing past us. Time to slow down as they start to race and we applied our brakes and let a young guy without helmet take off and disappear in the distance. No need to rush we told ourselves and rode on. A minute later we spotted the guy again. He lay motionless on the road next to his bike. 30 meters apart was the other guy and his bike. Two down. Just like that. Saturday night, a bit of bravado, giving full throttle and going from being king of the road to king of stupidity in a fraction of time. People gathered around the two and he started to move his head, must have been in full agony. There was nothing we could do to help at this point. We rode on. In silence.

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