After two sessions at the mechanic in Hue we’re finally off and running, pushing forward towards the Ho Chi Minh trail and onward to Phong Nha. The leg of riding through the Phong Nha national park is not only one of the longest days on this road trip its also meant to be one of the most spectacular making for high hopes and eager anticipation. Throw into the mix it’s the least inhabited road in Vietnam this next two days is a kind of launch into the wilderness and away from any sort of support network. With this thought in mind we take stock of the boys, Rob and Greg are behaving; for now.

 What a difference a few corners makes. I’m pushing Greg to the top of a rise so we can get a smooth start with the tow rope, back to Hue. It’s the same old issue he’s had from Ho Chi Minh city, basically a bad attitude. Cursing the big sook all the way it’s time to face facts, venturing into an unknown seems too big a risk with this temperamental princess, it’s probably time we put him on a train and do to him what parents do to children they don’t want to see anymore; Greg’s off to bike boarding school. We have an option to send the boys back to the place we bought them and increasingly this option is switching from a comfort to a near certainty. I manage to start him intermittently but running only occurs at full revs, so in low gear Greg screams like a granny on the freeway stuck in first with the handbrake on all the way to the bike shop.  

Charlie Winn

A hopeless cause, attempting to revive Greg, Hue, Vietnam.

  After some putrid oil smell and a clinking stall it’s game over, I walk Greg the last few hundred metres at the end of my tether; I wonder what the guys at the shop are thinking? In a moment the small room of grease, bike parts and busy guys squatting on the ground in sandals erupts into a hive of activity like an emergency room in a busy hospital when the ambulance arrives with a crisis. I feel like the loved one to first arrive, the action is frenetic for this small space that is only really a few metres square and choked with a long list of other emergencies needing attention. Standing on the gutter I have little to contribute other than scuff my foot over the concrete and consider how slippery it is from this little shop too busy to be penned within its boundaries. Grease coats everything I can see and dissipates in the black of the road surface leaving me metaphorically on the other side of the glass doors with nothing to do but wait. 

 The realisation of what’s going on is a little hard to accept, we’ve had such a great affair and with Charlie and Rob going so well I’m not looking forward to being a third wheel in the relationship. The thought of bringing another partner into this social dynamic gives me chills also leaving me no option that seems in any way palatable. I should be telling them to stop, that he’s had a good life, that it’s over and he’s in a happy place now. But I don’t, I’m just too shocked; or is it just pissed off? We’ve come so far have Greg and I, we knew it wasn’t meant to last, we knew it might not even last till Hanoi but star crossed lovers rarely think clearly of a future with no future. This is all just too hard to bare, we need coffee.  

Charlie Winn

A trip to the coast to forget about Greg, near Hué, Vietnam

  Over a coffee Charlie consoles me with soft words of comfort and support but I barely hear them; I feel like a child being taken out for ice cream while the vet puts my puppy to sleep. I think of the guys at the shop, boys some of them toiling away in their home away from home. I think of the sad face I’m destined to see, the one shoved to the front to deliver the bad news who has worked too hard to deserve the solemn duty. I’m all but resigned, I think I really could do with ice cream on this sad day. We’ve booked into the hotel again and there’s nothing to do but to plan for how we’re going to get back on the road again for the next part of the trip that just doesn’t seem to want to begin. That can all wait though, for now it’s dealing with grief and loss; I can’t believe it, I can’t even say the words aloud, today there’s no more words. Tomorrow 10:30am is the time, we’ll be back in the grease stained waiting room ready for the sad face to walk through the doors with the bad news. Tune in and show your support for what we already know; Greg’s dead.