On the 9th of March we set off on our last road trip. We had rented two 125cc Nouvos, bought bungees, filled up with fuel, stopped at the Cam Do market to pick up two proper helmets and we were set to go! We were going to take nine days to ride to Phan Rang, Mui Ne, Dalat and then back down that stunning mountain road into Nha Trang.
Our first ride was into Phan Rang. There is little to see or do there but to ride from Nha Trang to Mui Ne in one go is a little too optimistic, especially if you were to have a puncture or any other set back. That evening we had a few beers, a low-key supper and an early night.
On the 10th of March we rode to Mui Ne. Nearly all of the journey was on Highway 1 (oh – how we’ve missed you!). Although, the ride only took us two and a half hours so we made good progress. We headed straight for the Me Nui Backpackers – quite possibly one of our favourite places to stay in Vietnam. We fell so much in love with the place the first time around, and its wonderful owners John and Twee, that we’d planned our last little road trip around a return visit there – I hope I can do the place justice in a separate post of its own after this one.
After five days of sunning ourselves and relaxing by the pool we were back on the road again. This time we were headed back into the Highlands and to the pretty little city of Dalat. The ride up was spectacular, its everything we love about riding in Vietnam; empty winding roads and breath-taking scenery. As we’d come to expect though the journey wasn’t all plain sailing. There was a short spell on Highway 20 that was ridiculously dangerous (we saw a nasty crash involving a motorcyclist and a small lorry). Thankfully however, we arrived safely in Dalat shortly afterwards. Desperate for a shower we checked in and cleaned up. The room was huge, more like a self-catering apartment than a hotel and we were very happy. After showering we headed into town for some supper.
I felt it was important to revisit Dalat because the first time around Jamie had been bedridden with his snakebite. It was as much the ride up there and down again that was as important as exploring. On our first day we rode around the city and ended up a the Crazy House; its a three storey building designed by an extremely eccentric architect that doubles up as a tourist attraction and a hotel. I’m not sure I’d really want to stay there though, and have people peering in at me in my room like I was in some kind of zoo! All in all it was pretty impressive, it felt like a huge climbing frame for adults and definitely breached one or two health and safety rules! Lovely views though.
Afterwards we headed to the Big C supermarket and bought some lunch which we took down to the lakeside and had a picnic.
On the 17th March we did our last ride down the mountain into Nha Trang. We knew the road was good and we’re not disappointed, the weather was perfectly clear and our journey went without a hiccup.
I think by this stage we both felt ready to end our biking adventure in Vietnam, that last little trip worked to get the last little bit of aching for it out of our systems. Its an experience I know we’ll never forget and also something we’ll never try to replicate. Its beautiful and life-changing, stupidly dangerous and incredibly exciting. I’ll never forget how it feels to be chewing on dust on a non-existent road whilst trying to hold my own against forty tonne work vehicles, trying to keep up with Jamie in the traffic, or how much you wouldn’t believe how much your bum, neck, shoulders and back can ache after a hard ride… or how it feels to turn the corner of the road and discover a waterfall, or a herd of wild water buffalo, or the most beautiful turquoise-blue bay stretched out as far as you can see… I’ll never forget laughing at how filthy we got with dirt and sweat and how amazing it felt to get into a cool shower and see the water run black as I got clean again. A quick thank you here to Jamie here for always letting me have the first shower, and without whom I never would have done any of this. We have learned so much on this journey and I’m glad it wasn’t always easy, and that we never had to sit like luggage on a bus, we went wherever we fancied and lingered as long as we wanted to.
Vietnam is a beautiful, diverse and fascinating country and the memories we have there are so precious. Thank you Jamie x