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Day 16 – December 16th: Tam Coc/Hanoi

It had taken a while for yesterday’s events to sink in. Everything happened so fast. Sleep had taken a long time to come, and when I awoke in the morning by myself in the room, I felt hollow. I was missing Sharyn already. We are rarely apart, so this was an alien feeling for me.

It was freezing, only 10 degrees C. I put just about everything I had on and got Mama Lan to bring my breakfast into the room. I was not really prepared for or expecting such cold weather.

The morning passed with no news, and then, at 2 pm, Sharyn called. She was still pretty groggy from the morphine. The surgery had taken two hours, but it had gone to plan. It was just a matter now of how long it would take to recover and what we’d do in the meantime.

I was cold and miserable and not feeling like doing anything. I kept wondering whether this meant the end of the trip; after all, how would Sharyn cope by herself if I was to continue cycling alone? I went back to bed for the rest of the afternoon, frustrated that I didn’t have any answers.

Sharyn called again later. She wouldn’t be allowed to ride for the next three months. That effectively ruled out her trip, although typically, she thinks she might be OK by the time we reach Nha Trang. She’s going to keep the bike in Hanoi, just in case.

She will have an x-ray tomorrow; if it’s good, she can leave the hospital. I set about preparing her bike and gear to be moved to Hanoi tomorrow.

Day 17 – December 17th: Tam Coc/Hanoi

Sharyn called at 8.30 am, her x-rays were fine, and she was allowed to leave. We arranged a car with Lan and Minh to take me to Hanoi, pick her up, and take her bike to Hanoi Bicycle Collective to be boxed and sent back to Ho Chi Minh City.

I got Sharyn’s bike and her bike stuff together, and Minh arrived at 11.30 am for the two-hour drive to Hanoi. The trip passed quickly, considering we’d taken two days to cycle it recently. We have a rule of thumb – what you can drive in a car in one hour, we can cycle in a day.

The traffic coming into Hanoi was atrocious, it even seemed worse than Ho Chi Minh City, and that’s saying something! Minh parked the car in the underground car park at the hospital while I waited for him in the reception area. There I met our friends Wendy and David, who had been visiting Sharyn while she was here and keeping her company.

Sharyn was waiting for the “all-clear” in her room. David took me up there once Minh had emerged. While we waited for the administrivia, Sharyn “matter of factually” mentioned she’d be following me down south. I knew she was determined to do at least part of the trip on her bike, so that meant that I could begin again and finish it.

It was welcome news to me for two reasons. It meant she was confident enough that her arm would heal quickly (although she’d never broken a bone before), and we could finish it together. But it also meant that I could keep riding and complete the trip as we’d planned, even if it meant solo riding, something I’d never done before. Completing the ride by myself had already crossed my mind and would be a strange feeling, but it would be a lot worse not to continue.

Wendy had given Sharyn a backpack so she could continue the trip. Her panniers dropped off with her bike at Hanoi Bicycle Collective. Sharyn would stay overnight with Wendy and David, go back to the hospital to get the all-clear the next morning, and meet me at the first stop – Thanh Hoa. A few hours later, Minh and I were back at Mountain Lake Homestay in Tam Coc, having dinner with Mama Lan. It was all a bit surreal.

To see what happened next, you’ll have to read on: A New Normal. The Show Goes On…