We spend the next days in Mui Ne with Paul. On a day that just so happens to be Valentine’s Day, we treat ourselves to a steak dinner. I know, we’re adorable. But we’re also tough, don’t you forget it.
Over the next few days we splurge on a few more dinners out and fall back into familiar habits: beers, a game of pool and a lot of talking shit. Michael buys a kite and we spend our late afternoons at the beach taking turns to fly it. As the sun turns to sunset we stand there laughing and watching the kite swerve as we do loop-the-loops.
We move to a hostel that is closer to the ocean, and then to another that has even better access to the ocean. We swim, nap, read. I write. Michael gives me a few more lessons in how to ride a manual motorbike.
We live these out with ease and if I could, I would somehow create more time so that we may do this longer. Maybe we could even turn around and drive back to Hanoi, but -HA!- that is wishful thinking and eventually we have to decide what our next steps actually are.
We twist and turn around the subject for a little while (as we are good at doing) but in the end it is clear: we are all keen to complete the final ride of the trip together. 1,479 km through Vietnam, all the way from Hanoi to Saigon. We started together and now we will finish the last 216 km together too. Perfect.
I have made my own big decision too, and that is that when we arrive in Saigon, I will buy Jackie from Michael. I will sell Elektra and, having (sort of) learned how to drive a manual motorbike now, I will continue my adventures on Jackie as we cross the border into Cambodia. Call me crazy, but I just can’t bear the thought of sitting in a bus.
Two days before we are due to leave, we meet another backpacker who has traveled by bike and is trying to sell his. He is letting it go for so cheap that it is almost ludicrous. Michael, in a fit of entrepreneurial spirit, buys it. “I can sell it for way more and make a profit,” he says. It’s true, so he takes to Facebook pages and tries to sell it.
The day before we are scheduled to leave, Michael meets with an interested buyer. He is actually looking for a semi automatic, but Michael gives him a quick lesson in how to ride a manual, hoping to make the sale happen. Paul and I sit and drink coffee, chatting to some new friends.
All of a sudden, Michael is next to me. “So the guy I’m trying to sell Jackie to can’t really figure out how to ride her and he still wants a semi. Any chance that you’re willing to part ways with Elektra today?”
It almost doesn’t feel like it is me that speaks when I say “absolutely, how much does he want to pay for her?”
The next hour passes by in a blur but we negotiate a price, take out cash, and I hand over the keys to my beloved Elektra. I barely have the time to be sad about the end of this part of the trip, because tomorrow will be our final drive and my latest challenge.
Tomorrow I will drive a manual motorbike for the first real time. And I will drive it into the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City.