Motorbiking in Asia forum
Why i need another Minsk (Dalat or nearby)
4th January, 2010
I need another Minsk, the story as to why follows and i think its a funny situation. but if you are selling near Dalat or Na Trang get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 01284615001
"Can i park here?"
We came into Dalat a few days ago. My rear wheel wobbling a little and having thrown a spoke. Otherwise pretty ok. We took the QL 20 east out of Dalat for a day trip. Looking for a place called Tiger Falls. We didn't find it but we did find an amazing series of forest trails that the local small hold farmers use to get to their mountainside plots. Really beautiful.
We came across a small fire burning on a hillside. Maybe 30 meters across. We decided that it would responsible to try to put this fire out before it got any worse. Cutting branches off of trees we managed to beat the flames out in under an hour. And with a minimum of eye/lung irritation. Very please with ourselves we rode on deeper into the woods.
A couple kilometers further on I stopped to take a photo and wait for Joris to catch up. When we started the bikes again we found that his chain had come off of its cog. Being the intrepid amateur mechanics we have so recently become we attempted to remove his rear wheel and take care of the situation.
We failed pretty miserably. Attempted to tow his bike up the trail; and failed pretty miserably. First gear making a sick slipping noise. Possibly connected to my rear wheel adjustment issues. Gave up on the tow and rode Joris about half a kilometer before my throttle cable shredded.
Now its getting dark. Taking the kill switch box off the handle bars we locate the offending cable and the small gold attachment that holds it to the throttle. Managed to lose part of that tiny gold thing in the underbrush.
Now we are on foot. In a forest with fires burning at surprisingly regular intervals. In Vietnam. At night.
We start walking the several Ks out of the woods and the 19 kilometers back to Delat.
The Vietnamese have, in my limited experience, proven to be the least friendly of the SE Asian peoples that i have come into contact with. This they proved by driving past the two foreign guys with motorcycle helmets walking down the highway in the dark. Eventually a group of three bikes stopped and offered us a ride to Dalat. Saving us the remaining 16 or so kilometers of walking.
On day two we purchase a new throttle cable and two of those little gold devils; without the benefit of a shared language. We rented a scooter and headed back to the mountains.
Replacing a throttle cable is not a major challenge for a skilled, or even a proficient, mechanic. I however happen to be neither of these things. And despite my authoritative statement that: "the only thing we have to be careful of is not to cut it too short". I did in fact trim too much of the replacement cable off. Much to the annoyance of the kind old farmer who stopped to assist in the repair.
We had evidently left Joris' bike in front of this man's hut and he accompanied us back to said hut to try a second round of repairs. We had assumed that Joris' chain had simply slipped off and would be fairly easy to fix. This we deduced by virtue of the fact that it hadn't snapped or come apart. We learned however that the links of the chain are spaced by thin tubes that can shatter and leave the chain intact but render one or more links useless.
After a couple hours of repairs we managed to remove the offending links and reconnect the chain with our spare master link. This of course left the chain just long enough to reach after we adjusted the wheel to the full forward position.
We rode the repaired Minsk and the rented scooter back to Dalat where we purchased TWO throttle cables. We returned to my bike and had just enough time to get the cable replaced. Improperly. And having trimmed off the excess from the throttle cable we had ruined our second in as many days.
Again it was too dark to work and we returned to Dalat.
This morning we made our third trip to the parts dealer to purchase our fourth throttle cable. Which the owners found very amusing. We returned again to the forest.
Keep in mind this is over half an hour per trip and we have now made it seven times. We are very ready to get this bike fixed already and have become pretty confident in our ability to do so, given enough daylight and a double set of all the parts we will need.
Riding these narrow mountain trails yet again we come upon my bike. Just where i left it. But something isn't the same. Even at a distance i can tell. Joris is busy trying not to slam us into a tree and so his oversight is understandable.
Someone has burned my bike. They opened the fuel line and the tank, let a quantity of fuel run out, and set it on fire. We had been wary of a possible theft of the bike, or of the fuel in the tank, but i had failed to anticipate arson.
As the locals commuted from mountain field to wherever it is that mountain farmers go, (they have huts but don't appear to sleep in them. at least not in this part of the growing season), they gathered a small group to join Joris and I in blankly staring at the charred and melted remains of what is at this point the most expensive thing i own in the world.
Through the art of mime, something those of you who i have met traveling will know is a skill quickly honed, the gathered locals explained that yes it did look as tho my bike was deliberately burned and in their best estimation it was likely the crazy guy who lives in the woods nearby.
Now i don't know what the Vietnamese etiquette on leaving a charred hulk of steel in a natural area is, but in my experience one should try not to do that. Searching the phrasebook i found a serviceable passage: "can i park here?" they assured me that i could and we laughed.
This sympathetic audience had no better plan then I as to what to do about the situation. The bike is a wreck. All the wiring is melted. The seat is ash. The aluminum electrical box under the seat is now molded to the clutch casing in a molten drip modern art sculpture. The rear wheel is burnt and the front melted enough to go flat. Everything on the left side of the bike (the side the fuel line comes off of) that isn't made of steel is melted, burned, or at least throughly charred. Luckily however the gas cap has escaped damage as it has been tossed a meter or so away in the brush.
We salvaged a new brake light for Joris' bike. The chain and the right foot peg as well. Took the kill switch box, the throttle grip, headlight bulb and a few other miscellaneous surviving parts and a couple souvenirs as well.
So it looks as though i will have to buy another bike or surrender to Vietnam. An inglorious history for my people in this country continues.
#1 Posted: 23/3/2010 - 19:46
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