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  • Flora Le

The Nameless Road


We arrived at Ba Be Lake at nightfall. Our lodging, operated by a H'mong family, was located in the edge of the majestic lake.


The second day of driving to Ba Bê had not been easy. Indeed, Trung had decided to take a shortcut in order to avoid the long detour that the main road would have imposed on us. The road had no name and did not appear on any map. Trung was particularly enthusiastic about this idea because he had never taken it. He had warned me, however, that it would not be paved and would look like off-roading.


Trung had not lied. This road was bad and bumpy. We drove over rock, avoiding gaping holes, puddles, bumps and muddy pools. Once again, the novice motorist in me was put to the test. I was anything but relaxed. Trung was having the time of his life.


At one point, I was faced with a difficult choice. To my right were sharp, uneven rocks, and to my left was a hole filled with water I didn't know how deep. I had a moment of hesitation. Before I could pull myself together, my front wheel skidded and my bike flipped onto its side.

I had had my first accident. Nothing serious, fortunately.


Trung was already far ahead. He hadn't seen anything of the scene. After shaking myself, I tried to get my bike up.


Arrrggghh.


I couldn't get it up. I had barely lifted it off the ground.


I was going to have to learn how to lift those 300 pounds by myself. This kind of accident could happen to me at any time. And Trung wouldn't always be there to run to my rescue.


Arrrggghh.


Still unsuccessful. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.


I was on my third attempt - still unsuccessful - when Trung came running. He looked worried and asked, "You OK?" I wasn't hurt. I had managed to get off the bike during the fall.


Wanting to prove that everything was okay, I was ready to get back on the road immediately. Yet I was worried. I was already tired from the tedious ride and we were only halfway through. I was also concerned about the damage to my bike and my belongings, which were sitting on a jackhammer.


Trung imposed a stop. In fact, I needed it badly.


I sat on the side of the road. All I could hear was the sound of the wind through the foliage. Then I thought I heard a noise coming from the jungle. I put my ear to the ground. I could make out the sound of a bell. In fact, it was two different sounds.


Standing in front of the cliff, I listened to this duo of bells. It sounded like they were answering each other.


In this region, there is a lot of breeding of mountain goats, which are real climbers. There were probably two of them, hidden in the foliage, grazing on the steep cliff.


I never saw the goats. But the tinkling of the bells carried away by the wind seemed so poetic to me.

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