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Your dog must have a price, right? – Voltage drop causes uneasiness

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No sooner do I get up than I check once again the travel route for the day. While going through it, it occurs to me that we could ride by the Cat Dien National Park on the way. ‘Won’t it be a mistake to simply pass by the well-known national park and not even catch a glimpse of it from within?’ “Why have we not planned a visit to the national park?”, I ask Tanja, as she’s the one in charge of the planning of visits to important tourist sights and attractions. “Well, you said so yourself, that we won’t have enough time for it.” “Hm, if we were to reach the southern tip of Vietnam in due time, the schedule can actually become tight. But we still have three more weeks till the visa expires. I think, there’s room enough for a visit to Cat Dien”, I ponder. “Well, that’s awesome. I’d really like to go there.” “Okay, so we’ll change the plan a little and ride into the jungle. We just need to find out if there are any possibilities of accomodation there and where exactly the entrance to the national park lies”, I answer and try to find the relevant data on the map. When I get the approximate coordinates, I carry all the luggage downstairs. In the meantime, Tanja tries at a few guest-houses to book a room. It’s not an easy task, given that today is Friday and hence many of the accomodation places are fully booked, owing to the Vietnamese tourism.

“How much does your dog cost?”, asks the owner of our motel, while I load the bikes. “He is not for sale”, I answer in a friendly manner. “I would really like to buy him. He must have a price, right?”, he doesn’t give up. “Ajaci doesn’t have a price. He’s a family-member. Would you sell your aunt?”, I try to make it clear to the old man so as to hinder him from making further offers. When he realizes that he won’t get anywhere in that matter, he desperately wants to buy one of our Bosch motors. “Even the motors are not for sale. We need them for our bikes.” “And how does it look with your sunglasses?” “I don’t want to sell them, either”, I answer with a laugh.

I’m in the middle of attaching the last bag to the bike, when the man suddenly tries to sit on Ajaci to see if one can ride our dog. “Nooo!”, I shout, being aghast. The man looks at me with an expression of shock. “He’s not a horse”, I try to explain, but I’m not sure if he’s understood me, owing to the language barriers. Meanwhile, Tanja has finally been able to make a find and scavenge a room at a family-lodge, where Ajaci would be accepted. At 9:30, we take leave of the owner of the little motel and start riding into yet another hot day.

“Denis! I think, my rear brakes aren’t working properly any more!”, Tanja shouts, as we roll down yet another mountain pass. We halt in the shadow of a few trees and detach the wheel. The brake lining is actually blank. “Puh, good that you realized it in time”, I say and check the brake-pads on my bike, too, just to be sure. “Just a couple of kilometers more, and they’d have come off, too”, I determine and replace them with new ones. Owing to the great amount of elevation gain and numerous descents of the last days, they have worn out quite rapidly. Since the dirt and dust on road get accumulated in the brake-cylinders, it’s not easy for me to notice the deterioration. We can’t afford to just prophylactically swap the brake-pads. We don’t carry enough supplies for that.

After the current descent, we reach the height of only 50 meters above sea-level. The heat down here becomes intolerable very soon. The last few days have already been crisply warm, but with 33 degree celsius in shade, it’s properly hot today. As soon as we halt even for a bit and the airstream stops, sweat starts streaming out of our pores. “Would we be able to cover stretches of more than 100 kilometers in one day in this increasing heat?”, I ask Tanja, taking a breather in the shade of a tree. “It’ll be tough. We’ll perhaps have to shorten the distances.” “It always depends on the possibilities of accomodation. But we’ll find a solution. It’s not our first summer being on the bikes”, I say confidently.

We find the inconspicuous junction to Route 600 A, which leads us westward, towards the national park. “Is this the right way?”, Tanja asks, growing doubtful, as she can’t imagine that such a narrow road with potholes is the way to one of the most well-known national parks of Vietnam. “Don’t know. It seems strange to me, too.” “Perhaps we should turn around. There was small café at the divergence. If they have WLAN, we can check on Google Maps if this is the right way. Or I can call at the Bamboo Lodge to confirm the route”, Tanja suggests. “Good idea!”

The information that we get from the Bamboo Lodge is helpful. We are supposed to follow the pothole-road and turn northward after seven kilometers. In the meantime, it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The fiery sunrays have lost their aggression by now. A moped-rider overtakes us all of a sudden. “Now that’s a sight!”, he exclaims, pointing at our Roadtrains. “It looks heavy and yet allows you a good ride”, I say to the German tourist. “Where are you going?” “To the Bamboo Lodge!” “That’s where we are staying, too. Just follow me!”, he offers. Just after a few minutes, we reach the Lodge, with its simple huts in a  small, green park. I follow a young, friendly woman, who shows me to our hut. “Wow”, the exclamation escapes my lips, as I enter the bungalow, whose balcony lies directly over the river Dong Nai. “It’s an awesome room”, I say to Tanja, when I’m back where the bikes are. We take our bikes to our accomodation, unload them and, just like in the last 18 months, carry our luggage inside. Then we stand on our balcony and watch the brown jungle river flowing sluggishly. Its bank on the opposite side is covered with a thick overgrowth of trees. Birds greet the flaming evening sky with shrill cries. “Man, is it beautiful here!” UuuuuuuUUUUUUUUHHHHHHH! UuuuuuuuUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHH! “Oh, what kind of a fascinating song is that?! Are those birds?” asks Tanja, as a proper concert of long, high-pitched tones is to be heard, coming from the ‘roof of leaves’. “Birds? Hm, I don’t know. Perhaps gibbons sound so, which are supposed to be living in this national park”, I ponder. Spellbound, we stand there and listen to the wonderful, strange sounds, until they stop abruptly. “I am as hungry as a horse. Come, let’s quickly plug in the motors and camera-batteries for charging and go out to get something to eat”, I suggest. No sooner have we inserted our four motor-chargers into sockets than the charge-lights stop blinking one after the other. “It can’t be. Have they simply gone bust without a whimper?”, I nervously ask. I take out the plugs out of the socket only to insert them back in once again. “I don’t believe it. Our chargers are not working any more”, I am shocked to the core, as we can’t charge the motors without them and, therefore, can’t resume our journey. “It must not be so. There must be some other reason”, Tanja tries to calm me down. “What other reason?”, I ask, and then it hits me that the power grid of our room may perhaps be overloaded. I readily switch off all the appliances and equipments such as the fridge, lights, and the ceiling fan. “It’s still not working”, I curse. We grab the four motors and chargers and rush to the simple bamboo-restaurant nearby. I connect everything afresh to a power-supply there. The result is as heart-breaking as it was in our room. “We need new chargers. Something here has shot them down”, I am convinced. “I somehow can’t bring myself to believe that”, Tanja remains confident. “But you can see, right, that the charging-lights are dead?” “Wait till tomorrow!” “And you mean to say that it will be better tomorrow?”, I wonder at Tanja’s naïve statement. “Most importantly, it can take a long time till new chargers arrive from Germany. They wouldn’t send a courier to a jungle, would they?”, I ponder and ask myself how the journey is to be continued. Without giving up, I connect the motors anew to the power-supply in our room. “Well?”, Tanja’s on her toes. “Dead.” I snatch my laptop and write a mail to Bosch, telling them about the emergency and asking them to send new charging equipment. “Look! One of the motors is blinking. It wasn’t working before, right?” “No, it wasn’t working. Everything was dead.” I jump to my feet to take a look at the resurrecting motor. “There, the other one is blinking again, too. And the third and the fourth as well! Man, the chargers aren’t bust. The power-grid here must be the reason. It seems that it’s delivering poor voltage. Man-o-man, it feels as if multiple weights were lifted off my shoulders”, I rejoice. “Have you alreay sent the mail to Bosch?” “No!” “Good! Then let’s finally go and get something to eat. I have a ravenous hunger.” “Fantastic idea! I hope that they serve cold beer here. I am so relieved that I simply feel like celebrating!”…

The live reporting has been facilitated by the firms Gesat Ltd. (www.gesat.com) and Roda Computer Ltd. (http://roda-computer.com/). The satellite phone ‘Explorer 300’ of Gesat and the rugged notebook ‘Pegasus RP9’ of Roda are the pillars supporting the transmission.

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Date:
10.03.2017

Day: 619

Country:
Vietnam

Province:
Đồng Nai

Location:
Kat Tien Nationalpark

Latitude N:
11°25’15.9’’

Longitude E:
107°25’49.3’’

Daily kilometer:
70 km

Total kilometer:
22.669 km

The crow kilometer:
45 km

Average speed:
24.3 km

Maximum speed:
51.7 km/h

Driving time:
2:43 h.

Ground quality:
Asphalt / Dirt road

Maximum height:
1.000 m

Complete height meter since tour start:
68.623 m

Height meter of the day:
288 m

Sunrise:
06:00 a.m.

Sunset:
18:00 p.m.

Temperature Tag max:
33°C

Departure time:
09:30 a.m.

Arrival time:
17:00 p.m.