(Sheena and Chelsea told their wonderful experiences on motorcycling trip in Vietnam)
We booked a motorcycle trip, which is sure to be the main trip highlight for us. Cruising around, no cares in the world! We used a company called Active Travel Vietnam. It included three days on bikes touring the country side with home-stays throughout. The site we used is listed here: http://www.activetravelvietnam.com/tour.php?op=detail&tourId=34
We woke up early then we were picked up by our mini bus and driven to the Ho Chi Minh Museum just on the outskirts of Hanoi. It’s a great place for us to start and showed us lots of cool facts about Ho Chi Minh and gave us time to discuss the upcoming trail ride and its significance to Vietnam.
The museum was built in the 1990’s and is dedicated to Ho Chi Minh. He was s great Vietnamese leader who lead the communist movement and defeated the French in 1954. Ruling until 1969, he was considered very influential and was best known for leading Vietnam through its revolution and its declaration of independence. Everything on display is pretty much a dedication to his achievements in life. His life is depicted in a number of photos and artifacts about speeches he made and the influence he had. We kept seeing things around town that affectionately refer to him as Uncle Ho. Pretty neat if I do say so myself.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail was the link between North Vietnam and South Vietnam and was used in the American War as a supply line for ammunition and supplies. The problem is that the trail leads through the jungle and created many hardships. Now the trail is used for tourism and is a peaceful, beautiful route where you can reflect on the countries past.
A statue of Ho Chi Minh
After the museum we had some time to play around on the bikes and get used to the way they felt. Chelsea and I had gone for motorcycle lessons in Canada before the trip because we knew that this was one of the highlights we were not willing to miss. I keep making fun of Chelsea for getting her motorcycle license for a trip when she still doesn’t have her regular license. Ha-ha. Needless to say, the training at home seemed to really help our confidence on these bikes. The guides were great too, VERY patient.
We spent the afternoon riding along the highway in the peaceful rice patty areas and surrounding limestone rocks. It was really a beautiful experience and made me feel pretty lucky to have been a part of it. The air smelled clean and the wind was warm, just what a perfect vacation day should be.
Our guides stopped in Hoa Binh for lunch, about 75 km away from Hanoi. We had some kind of meat served on cooked bamboo. It was a very pretty area and we wished we had a little more time to check out the river. They called it Da or Song Da which I think means, Black River.
After we left Hoa Binh we headed through some beautiful valleys and mountainous terrain to a village 60km away called Mai Chau. We had a bit of free time and hiked Cun Mountain for some great picture opportunities of the valley. We both really enjoyed the overnight stay in the stilt house. It had bamboo floors and the roof seemed to be made of palm leaves. I was feeling a bit queasy from riding all day and eating street meat the night before so I wasn’t so sure about the stability of a stilt house, but I worried for nothing. Chelsea seemed to make friends right away although we still barley understand what people (other than our guide) are saying. I think that might be why people like us. Just smiling and nodding… smile and nod… and they just laugh. We had a great night sleep, which may have been because of being so tired from all the excitement today.
Mountain view, Mai Chau – Vietnam
We woke up fairly early this morning and had breakfast with the villagers before we said goodbye. We drove for a few hours along the banks of the Ma River when we stopped at a cool stream. It held a number of big fish and Chelsea wanted to swim but was scared of the fish biting or sucking on her toes, plus we weren’t sure if we were suppose to so we held off. Eventually after spending most of the day on the road we ended up at our next stop, Khanh Village. We had dinner with the locals who were pretty interesting and then headed to bed early. It was good to be immersed in the experience of the local people, but I’m sad to say we were so exhausted that we weren’t much for conversation.
The next morning we had a lot of fruit with our breakfast, which is popular because of the more than 20 kinds of fruit trees in the area. We rode through a few more villages on our way back to Hanoi, including Hoa Lu and Tam Coc. Hao Lu is an interesting historical site that includes temples dedicated to 10th century kings.
Tam Coc, Ninh Binh
The name Tam Coc means three caves: Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba. We got rowed in on little boats by local women. It was a very unique place to experience and we ended up buying a couple of little embroidered change purses from the women. That catch of them rowing you is you feel really bad for them doing all the physical labor and buy their goods. The scenery was great with postcard perfect water and limestone cliffs and it reminded us of the pictures and tour brochures we had seen of Ha Long Bay. It only makes sense that the locals call it Halong-Bay-On-Land. I guess we can compare the similarities ourselves as Ha Long Bay is the next stop on our journey. After lunch we headed back to the start (Hanoi) and the end of our motorcycle ride. From Hanoi we will book our Ha Long Bay tour.