Ride Out (HCM)

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
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Flag of Vietnam  , Quảng Trị,
Thursday, December 27, 2012

Even though I love my bicycle and riding through this fabulous country, it was time for a wee blast up the mountain road on a motorbike, to take on the real challenges faced by this mode of transport… and what a ride it turned out to be!

So I hired a bike from the hostel for 4 days and decided to head west once again into the most western part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail which I was desperate to see, and one of the girls joined me. It was great fun riding up into the mountains but we were no sooner starting up, when the road turned into thick red sludge!  It was really challenging trying to keep the bikes upright and keeping the momentum going, men were working on upgrading the road and the red mud was everywhere, thankfully it only lasted around 25km before getting back onto a half tarmac/gravel surface.  I loved riding up here, way up into the mountains and above the cloud line, the views were really amazing but the only photos I managed to take just didn't do it any justice.

Michelle and I were met with nods and hellos on the road and all the kids running out waving when they see you, and it’s an amazing few days with good company, spectacular views and thankfully, not too much rain.  I enjoyed all our wee tea stops which lets you mingle with the locals, I always love this, I end up sitting in someone’s house normally having a cuppa and it really gives you a chance to see just how they live.  It’s needless to say very basic, pretty much living outdoors, there’s no fancy furniture way out here, that’s for sure!  They all however, have massive wedding portraits hanging on the walls, the wedding photographs are a major business out here, with several outfits being photographed before the wedding, and around four outfits being used on the actual day… could you imagine that at home!

We end up at a Home stay the first night, with the president of the village taking us for coffee in the evening to show us off, although we had met everyone already down at the natural hot springs where the locals were all taking their 'bath’ for the evening.  He has a lovely family, who all practice their English on us, but they are very industrious after school with their studying.  Our ‘room’ is a bed is in the living area which is divided only by a hanging rug; thankfully the bed has a mozzie net over it and was very comfortable, only downside was the loo was outside.  The girls made us dinner after I had taken one of them on the back of my bike up to the local market, I saw a whole pigs head laying on the ‘meat’ table for sale, also on the ground were huge aluminimum basins full of fish and seafood and other delights.  Once we got back one of them took us down to the local hot spring in which everyone was having their ‘bath’, and had a good wander round the three swimming pools plus a well and tried the water for ourselves which was roasting hot, it was a real one off experience being taken in and meeting everyone which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The journey onwards was stunning, up above the cloud line where I could see all the peaks of the mountains all around, above fluffy cotton wool like clouds, beautiful.  The road then sweeps round, and up, and over, and through, and eventually down the mountain, and the views take your breath away at every turn… woohoo, as I’ve said before the camera just doesn’t capture it.

Anyway we came across some lovely villages and lots and lots of friendly, helpful people on our journey which I will never forget.  It was nice having some company on the roads for a few days, to share experiences and good times and have a blast with, the machines were often at full pelt at every turn which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it fair blew the cobwebs away.  Our route took us west through Hong Ha, before heading south via Con Tom, Ka Non, A Roang, Ta Lang, to Thanh My, Lang Hoa, Dai Hong, Minh Tan and into Hoi An.  Looking at the route on a map is just a series of hairpins bends, twists and turns… and on the motorbike, bliss J
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