Monday, March 5, 2007

3 months ago, a bit after we left Bangkok, after less than 500 k"m, Rami asked Gal: "So, is it any fun?".
Neither of us had an answer. Not even a clue.
Since then, the question has aroused a few times, causing us to laugh, yet with no definite answer.
2 days ago, when we thought our trip will suddenly end, the answer hit us in the face.

Rami's Hernia - Part 1.
The major reason going to Hanoi was for Rami to see a doctor.
During the last 2-3 weeks Rami was feeling something in the abdominal (above the balls, in Hebrew). The doctor in the French International Hospital told us it may be Hernia, and we made an appointment for the expert, 14:00 the following day.
We left the hospital at 15:00, giving us 23 hours of thoughts. Our first thought was to try & avoid the mountains. After talking with whoever we talked to, we came to the conclusion that there's a big chance that Rami will need to return to Israel for surgery (+ 2 months of rest). A million thoughts were running in our minds, bumping in our head, giving us a headache: flying back to Israel? Waiting for surgery, what to do during recovery? what to do after? Back to University & hi-tec? Continue traveling? Where & how? Africa on a jeep? India on an Enfield? Back on the bicycle? ahhh...
Then we understood. What we want the most is to continue cycling into China.
We were thinking of the last 3 months. Everything reminded us of the trip we had. All our luggage was spread on the floor of our hotel room. Just looking at it made us cry ;-(Why do loundry? Why look for a new spare tyre? Why buy a China travel book? Why bother updating our blog?
We had no energy to do anything. We wandered around Hanoi, waiting for the time to pass. We went to the cinema, for an English speaking movie, but they were all dubbed. We headed to the Cinemateque, finding it was closed for renovations, till May '07 (hope Yossi gets a refund on his member card). Even the cables had crappy movies.
We had no choice but to dig deeper & deeper into our depressing thoughts: Back to Israel, work, PhD., have another trip in a few years, postpone you get the idea, or part of it.
Many of these thoughts were about traveling. But, what about the bicycles? we are 3.5 months into the trip, after 3,5000 k"m, and we finally feel we're not beginners any more. Sure, every new problem, technical or other, is a challenge, but, we know what we want from the trip. It's not about seeing stuff; we don't care about missing out Ha-Long bay or the floating markets. What we see on the road is more close to the normal life of the locals, the good & the bad. Till Hanoi, we haven't seen tourists for over 2 weeks, so we can assume the locals don't get them too often. It means that they don't see the business in it. They are open & friendly. We reached the conclusion that this is what we most enjoy in this trip. Obviously, we chose a route that would be interesting & beautiful, from Bangkok to Turkey, or wherever we reach. The scenery on our way is beautiful. So we miss many tourist attractions, that's true. But, yet, so much of our routes were so beautiful, and slowly, on the bicycles, we get to enjoy every bit of it (smell the roses, as Greg mentioned), even more that with a motorcycle, where the driver can't real inspect the scenery.
We still have to learn that with bicycles "we have time" ( with a heavy German accent). We should rest more, not postpone the rest to some destination ("we'll reach Sapa in 4 days - lets rest there"). So many esoteric difficulties, but still, we wait for the next day on the bicycles...

So, we were in Hanoi, a spit away from China, where the Silk Road actually begins! We've been looking at the map, Bangkok to Hanoi, pedalling slowly the distance, counting them on the climbs, talking about everything in the boring parts and waiting for Gal in the downhills.
Till now it was warm up. See if we can manage what needs to be managed. See if it's any fun. And yes, it's lots of fun!

Rami's Hernia - Part 2
The 23 hours finally passed. The expert examined Rami (in ways no to be put on the Internet) and said the Hernia is extremely small and we can continue cycling. If & when it worsens, we can take a train to the airport & fly home.
We were thrilled! Gal had tears in her eyes, Rami just had some dust in his. We started thinking of the many things we have to do: buy a Chinese travel book, plan our exit from Hanoi, make laundry, etc. But first - Bia Hoi (draught beer ;-)

We hope "Rami's Hernai- Part 3" will be far away...