A 32 year old woman's wet dream

Trip Start Dec 22, 2010
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6
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Trip End Jan 21, 2011


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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"...so remember, chickens are soft and bigger animals like pigs and buffaloes are harder when you hit them" We are in the garage of Hoi An Motorcycle Adventures and our guide Dino is explaining how to stay alive on the roads of Vietnam in his thick Australian accent. "...don't do any dangerous maneuuuuuvers to save a chicken on the roooooad". A light half smoked cigarette in his mouth as he packs our saddle bags with rain gear and other necessary items that will make our trip smoother, rain on sunshine.

 I must confess, I was a bit nervous. I have had my MC license for two years now, but haven't had much riding experience more than a few miles on scooters around town in Encinitas. Mr Sao, our Vietnamese mechanic that is coming along on this three day motorbike ride, is showing me how it works. It is a 125CC, four stroke, forest green Soviet-era Minsk. I fall in love with it right away and name her Mina. I do secretly pray to the MC Buddha that Mina will take me safe back to this very garage and hop on to do a test drive. I straddle Mina and rev the engine. A rush goes trough my body and every little hair on my unshaven legs stand straight up and a big grin on my face appears. This will be the trip of a lifetime. I just know it.

We take off, Dino in the front followed by me then Josh and Mr Sao in the back. It is a beautiful day and the sun is shining and makes the rice fields shine so vivid green as we swosh by. A permanent grin on my face still. I just couldn't stop smiling! The warm wind in my hair (well helmet) sweeping up my pant legs making them flap, the magical synchronization between giving more gas and shifting gears. Ahhhhh it was a FANTASTIC feeling of freedom. We ride trough endless rice-fields watching men and women in wide brim hats bent over working hard planting the rice seedlings, we drive trough little villages where children run out of their homes just to wave hello or stretch out their hands for a high 5. Witch I, after a few attempts, finally managed to accomplish. Not easy to let go of the handle while manage to ride on small little bumpy roads for a novice like me.

The scenery is spectacular and we pass waterfalls, rivers and more little villages. Around sunset we hear the sound of drums and we stop at a village to see what the occasion is. We are in luck. They are in the midst of a harvest celebration and we are invited. This is why I travel. This is what makes my heart leap with joy and what life is all about: to experience new exciting situations, to meet new people and to get charged up with new inspiration!

We watch the men play the drums as the women, dressed up in traditional clothing dances around a buffalo, that will later be sacrificed and eaten. People are happy and there are a lot of curios smiles and looks our way. Our bikes catches most of the men's attention. All of a sudden we are the center of attention and it is time for us to move on so that they can continue their festivities. We hop on our bikes and ride to our final destination for the day, Prao.

The following morning we wake up to a rainbow, I look at it as a sign of luck, Dino as a sign of rain. And so it is. This day we start to ride on the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail. This legendary route was not just one, but many paths that together formed one of the major supply links for the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong during the American War. Troops and supplies was transported trough this very difficult terrain of dense jungle and steep mountains crossing over to neighboring Laos and finally, reached their final destination in southern Vietnam. If they survived. Thousands died from Malaria and the enemies bombs.

Today this is one of the most beautiful roads I have ever seen. We brave the rain and ride for 7 hours over high mountain passes and down deep jungle clad valleys, trough mud and along rushing rivers. Even though I wear rain gear, I am completely soaked. My helmet is covered with mud and my gloves are dripping of hand sweat. This is challenging riding and I absolutely LOVE it!!!

I think of all the men and women that has braved these mountains ( I'm pretty sure a few of you reading this as well) during the war and how lucky I am to be here on other terms. This place is too beautiful not to experience now. It is magical. Imagine Jurassic Park meets Motor Magazine shaped curves and switch backs, zig-zaging trough a maze of waterfalls and streams. This must be Heaven on Earth.

I keep this in mind as we start to get closer to civilization and it is time to get your blessings from the MC Buddha and start passing (and be passed) in bone rattling speeds. My heart almost leaps out of my chest as I shift down and start to pass a truck filled with 100-s of treas. It doesn't give me much space and I scramble in the mud next to the lip of the narrow road. I don't have a choice. This is it. No space for errors. And I do it. I manage to pass and I feel victorious. I really did it. I have never felt so close to death yet so alive in my life. An interesting and electrifying feeling that gives me strength and courage for the rest of the ride all the way the city of Hue. Here we celebrate at a roadside Lao-style BBQ hole-in-the-wall for dinner. Josh and Mr Sao eats chicken feet. I have the best BBQ pork I have ever had.I sleep very good that night as our soaked socks and clothes are being washed and dried in the hotel lobby.

Our last day we wake up to more rain. My hands are locked into a constant claw-looking position after holding on to the throttle with a death grip. We start out slow and hope for the weather Gods to be merciful to us. And they listen. After a few minor breakdowns on Mina, spark plug and a broken throttle cable that Mr Sao fixes right away, we start to climb the famous Hai Van Pass, featured in numerous Motor magazines and on TV for it's beauty and smooth curves :) It is hard to keep your eyes on the road as the view is beyond breathtaking. I resist the urge to stop every minute for pictures and enjoy the ride all the way down to Danang where we stop for Vietnamese coffee and finally take off our rain ponchos. At 17.25 we roll in to the garage, just as the sun sets over Hoi An's horizon. A feeling of accomplishment and victory settles in my body. I returned. I really did it. I rode a motorbike in Vietnam for three days in rain, sunshine, mud and on the highway. Now I am ready to get my very own little bike and prepare for new adventures. I am certain that there is motor oil running trough my veins after all.
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Comments

Rebecca on

Give it more gas baby!!

mistytravels
mistytravels on

You ROCK :o)
Bet your sweet cheeks are flapping in the wind there right along with your trouser legs. Sweet airing of canines through pure joy. Milk it girl, milk it!

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