My bike was fixed!! We finally left Mui Ne, we’d had a brilliant time there, but it felt like we needed to get back on the road. We are due to fly to Phuket on the 20th which meant we only had 10 days left in total for Vietnam and I really wanted to see the Delta. Plus our friend Steve from Nha Trang has agreed to meet us in Can Tho and holiday with us into Saigon! So strange to think we’ve been here for almost 10 weeks! It’s come around quickly but we’ve done so much it also feels like we’ve been here for ages- if that makes any sense! Apart from when Jamie couldn’t walk and we were restricted by his recovery (and thank God he recovered so quickly and completely) I really feel we’ve done everything we set out to do and see, plus so many more unexpected surprises!!
Day 1 – 160 Km. Mui Ne to Ba Ria…
Felt good to be on the go again! My bike now had a new engine so I couldn’t take it over 60 kph while I ran it in. The owner of the hostel we were staying in suggested we follow the coastal road rather than highway 1 which is apparently full of pot holes. The ride was easy except for one puncture in Phan Thiet. Jamie needed a new inner tube for his front wheel and unfortunately it was one of those times that we very nearly got screwed. The mechanic removed his wheel then pretty much refused to change the inner tube, saying we had to buy a new tyre for 600,000 (about £18). After a fair amount of arguing he changed the inner tube and then scowled a lot as we went on our way! What can you do? Every other time we’ve had a problem with our bikes the locals have stopped to help us, and its never cost us much before.
It was also our 3 yr anniversary, the money we’d planned to splash on a posh hotel ended up being spent on my motorbike! But we still had a lovely supper x lots of people said before we came travelling that we would find it hard and that we’d argue a lot. The thing is we’re used to living in each other’s pockets, and yes we annoy each other some days, but we’ve been getting along so well since we’ve been away. I couldn’t imagine being here with anyone else. Here’s to us J x
Day 2 – 170 km. Ba Ria to Ben Tre…
We were very much mistaken when we thought this would be a breeze! Unfortunately what our map didn’t show us was that the ferry we intended on crossing was within the boundaries of a military base! So we detoured north, around the outskirts of Saigon and then headed south into the Delta. We had our first ferry crossing on this day! It cost about 10p for both bikes and us. It is even hotter down here than anywhere else we’ve been yet. On the ferry there are lorries and loads of other bikes all parked on a flat platform. You can imagine, with all those engines around you it’s like being in a furnace! Quite an experience though!
crossing the bridge with Saigon in the background…
sunset in Ben Tre…
on another ferry, and next to a lorry full of Beer Saigon!
Day 3 – 80 km Ben Tre to Can Tho…
The further west you go the more wild the delta becomes. The roads are narrow, but good, and there is so much to look at you don’t really want to go fast anyway. Everywhere around you is there is thick jungle and winding little waterways. Locals are dozing in hammocks, or fishing, or laying out produce to dry in the sun. It really is a different world. We did another three ferry crossings, and we rode over a narrow bridge with actual holes in it! I couldn’t help thinking those holes were probably big enough for my bike wheel to jam in, and this bridge crosses the river! There were metal sheets layered out over the worst of it… Bit scary but fun too. Can Tho is a huge city, the traffic is pretty hectic too. We arrived, checked in, and went off to find Steve!
the mighty Mekong
Day 4 – 110 km Day Trip from Can Tho to Vi Thanh…
Because our first hotel was a little out of the way we checked into another in a better location. We stayed right down on the riverfront. Can Tho is not particularly geared up for Western tourists but there is a small area down on the river that has a few bars and restaurants. The local ex-pat community are very friendly and we were made really welcome at a little place called the Mekong. Our hotel was perfectly acceptable and about £10 a night. Plus it was right next door to the Mekong so breakfast was easy.
Jamie, Steve and I set aside a day to explore further south-west into the Delta. It was spectacular and so very different to the rest of Vietnam. We travelled along a road that follows the river, the jungle is thick and impenetrable on the other side. Red Vietnamese flags line the road, and blossoming shrubs scatter vibrant yellows and oranges. There are banana trees; heavy with fruit and enormous red blossoms. There are food sellers, fishermen out on the river, and people spreading out rice, fish, and coconut shells to dry on the roads. And the air changes- I know it sounds strange but it does… As you ride along and reach a break in the trees the air drops from that jungle sweat-box heat and you pass through a pocket of cool air. The earthy smells of vegetation drop to the richness of the water. It was an incredible experience and one we’ll never forget.
produce drying in the sun
Day 5 – was just spent relaxing because that many kilometres in four days will just about ruin your bum, shoulders and back!
Day 6 – 175km Can Tho to Saigon…
This was the last long ride of our trip! It felt a little sad, but at the same time I’m not sure I could have done much more. So much of the time we have been on the go- its been loads of fun but nearly everything in my backpack needed washing and I was excited about getting to Thailand. The roads to Saigon are mainly just motorways, not a lot to see, but quick and comfortable to ride on. At one point the plastic covering over Jamie’s back brake and indicators fell off and went bouncing down the road. I pulled him over and as we were contemplating going back for it three huge lorries ran it over!
I won’t lie, I was nervous about riding into Saigon, but if I wasn’t ready now after ten weeks and almost 3,000 km I guess I never would be… Riding into Saigon really was crazy, I don’t think roads can get any busier than this! The traffic creeps along bumper to bumper, mopeds are fifteen deep, horns blaring… its chaos! You can’t hesitate for a second, you just have to keep crawling along with the flow. Our friend Steve was knocked off his bike and grazed his arm, he was badly bruised but luckily he was okay after a couple of days. We enjoyed Saigon for the four days we had there. Our main focus was to sell our motorbikes. Our first offer was $100 for both, then $140 from another guy. We’d always said if we could get half our money back we’d be happy. To be honest anything back was a bonus- the experience we’ve had with the bikes was worth every penny. We advertised them on Craigslist and ended up selling them to a local Vietnamese guy for $200. He said he would fix them up and sell them locally. I was sad to sell my bike, but they did us well and I’m really considering getting my bike licence back home in the UK. I love it too much to give up now!!
After selling the bikes we found we were kind of just waiting around for a couple of days until our flight to Thailand. It was a huge weight off our shoulders to have actually sold the bikes (even more of a surprise to have been happy with the price). Once that was done we were able to wander around the city doing the normal touristy things… Saigon is so vibrant I felt I could walk around for ages just soaking up the vibe of the city. I preferred it to Hanoi. The war museum was a harrowing experience, I would definitely recommend it.
We had lunch one day in a place that served hand-pulled noodles. You could watch the chefs making them- they stretch out a piece of dough and double it, cut it, stretch it, double it… until they have a big bunch of noodles- very cool! For our last night Jamie treated me to a gorgeous sushi supper and we met our friends afterwards for some goodbye drinks.
Thank you Vietnam!! Its been absolutely incredible! I have fallen in love with this country- and I’ll never forget these past three months! Jamie and I both said we will most definitely come back one day. But for now its goodbye Vietnam and onwards to Thailand!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxx
view of the city from our hotel room
the last time we parked our bikes up…