I slept well on the floor of the stilt house. I woke up surprisingly late, at 6:30, considering all the chickens crowing. I packed and the Hoai’s mother made me some fried rice for breakfast.

I should note that while Hoai and his father have been spending time with me, hanging out, drinking whiskey and smoking their bamboo pipes, his mother has been busy non stop, doing all the cooking and cleaning up. She hardly even acknowledged my presence. This is just how traditional society is here.

Plowing the fields.
Plowing the fields.

I was kind of sorry to go. Pu Luong is such a peaceful place, and there are more walks and scenic motorbike rides Hoai could take me on. But it’s kind of weird being in a family’s house by myself. It’s only me and them with no privacy, and Hoai feels like he has to keep me constantly entertained. So I said my goodbyes, and headed out at 8.

It rained last night, and the dirt road was slick and slippery, so I had to go slow. I forded the river again, and came to paved roads. I rode out of the “big” market town and enjoyed some more nice scenery as I exited Pu Luong. But it was cold, drizzly, and gray.

The weather doesn't stop the workers.
The weather doesn’t stop the workers.

The ride was pretty cold and miserable. I went over a mountain pass with nice views. Then I entered a scenic river valley. There were wooden stilt houses along the valley, and waterwheels on the river far below. It was idyllic.

I went through small towns with nothing in them. There is a lot of working being done on the road. This is the road to Laos, and there is some truck traffic. I figured they were turning it into a big highway for cross border trade. I would later find that if this is the plan Laos is not really on board, considering the terrible state of the road on their side of the border.

Looking down on the fields.
Looking down on the fields.

I got to a fairly big small border town, which is not in Google Maps, but I think is called Quan Son, by lunchtime. This town had the last hotels before the border. I had noodles for lunch there. I had planned to stop here, but it was only noon, so I pressed on. Even though this is the last town in Vietnam, it was still 100 km to the border, but I could do that in an afternoon.

At least I could do it on good roads. maybe in a few years this will be a huge highway to Laos, but right outside of town I encountered construction. The road became dirt, and machines were busy everywhere. I figured I’d tackle this mess tomorrow, with a full day ahead of me. I wouldn’t want to turn up at the border after 5 pm, and have nowhere to stay.

Water wheels.
Water wheels.

I turned back to Quan Son. There are several guesthouses here, but I chose the five story one by the river. It was quite decent. I love how even the smallest, nothing towns have nice hotels. And it was only $12.

I spent the afternoon in my room, re-planning my Laos trip. I feel better about it now, and am ready to cross tomorrow. I went out for my last bun cha. There is nowhere to hang out. No cafes or nice little smoothie places that have been ubiquitous everywhere else I’ve been in Vietnam. And it’s cold and drizzly. So back to my nice room.

Sometimes on the road it’s nice to spend a half day in a nice room. Especially after two nights on the floor of homestays!

Water wheels in a scenic valley.
Water wheels in a scenic valley.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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