Motorbiking Vietnam: A Perfect Farewell
Geeees, Time FLIES! Have we really been living in Vietnam for 1.5 years?! I remember how antsy I was on the plane ride over when we had a stack of resumes, no job in sight, and no idea what Vietnam would bring us. We didn’t know if we’d stay for 6 months, 1 year, or even find a job at all. Here we are so many 3-3-3 beers later, friends made, classes taught, and another country we fell in love with.
Life in Saigon was so sweet. Too sweet. I had a great pay check, loved my friends, crazy nights out, weekend trips to beautiful beaches, and my own motorbike to zoom around on and define a whole new sense of FREEDOM for me. I loved loved loved the nightlife, and I can’t believe I actually miss the crazy fast-paced life on the roads. (Saigon traffic is INSANE. Worse than INDIA! Don’t believe me, watch this.)
When it was time to bid farewell to life in sunny Saigon, we didn’t just fly out– we went on the ULTIMATE trip through the country. We saw Vietnam how a traveler is meant to see it… on a motorbike. Setting out from Vietnam’s biggest city, we drove North around 900 miles (1,400 km) stopping off at 10 different cities along the way. Rhys and I each took our own motorbike, strapped our backpack on the back and set off on our last Vietnamese adventure.
We talked about the trip for months leading up to it and pulling out of the all-to-familiar Saigon city roads onto a bustling highway leading us to our firt stop Mui Ne… I was all nerves! Would we really make it all the way up to the North on these two old bikes?!
Saigon – Mui Ne – Dalat – Nha Trang – Buon Ma Thuot – Kon Tum – Kham Duc – Hoi An – Danang – Hue – Hanoi
We did it.
The Ho Chi Minh Highway took us most of our way North. Driving on the dirt road, my mind constantly drifting to the history of it during the war. Cruising past farmers hard at work in their rice fields, children herding cows down the roadside, making our way up coastal highways with the wavings crashing far below, and winding our way through the famous Hai Van Pass. This road trip was incredible.
Vietnam is a BEAUTIFUL country. If you want to make the most out of your time there, buy a bike in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city for $200-$400 and embark on one of the craziest trips of your life. Plus you sell your bike at the end of your trip, so you make most of the money back!
Rhys’s bike didn’t fail us and broke down 5 times. It was a 1988 and a hunk of JUNK! But, it made it. All that matters. Plus we both owned our bikes the entire time we were in Vietnam, so we really got out money’s worth! Pushing it a few hundred yards to a ‘mechanic’ (i.e. 14 year old boy with a wrench) on the side of some dirt road in the middle of no-wheres-ville was always worth a laugh, going home with a crossbow and arrows that a Vietnamese man randomly gave us, being invited into homes of Vietnamese for coffee after stopping on the roadside for some water, and headed home with a camera full of sunsets, rice fields, mountains, and coastal roads.
On the final day when we sold our bikes in Hanoi a rush of achievement flooded over me. Similar to the feeling when we stepped onto Mt. Everest Base Camp in Nepal, that we had done it. And it was incredible.
Vietnam, I already miss you. Thank you for one hell of a time.
I had to add this photo in, I drove for 45 minutes behind this guy with my Ipod Touch in one hand trying to get as close as I could to snag this photo! It was a dead pig, thankfully not alive! It was gutted down the middle and I couldn’t help thinking all the dirt flying in! Anything goes on the back of a motorbike, ANYTHING! Who needs a truck or a car when you’ve got a moto?
To see a map of the route we took through Vietnam, check it here on our maps page.