This may come to a surprise to some of those who know me but if I have learnt anything from my travels about myself its the fact that I’m a bit of a scaredy cat!
Maybe its because I’m alone and I have only my instincts to guide me through on what’s safe and what is not. Or maybe it’s because riding on the back of a motorcycle IS scary and IS dangerous so all the feelings I did feel were completely plausible. Whatever it was, I’m yet again proud of my accomplishment on the fact that I conquered my fears and did it anyway.
When I arrived in Ho Chi Minh my goal was to start South and work my way up. Luckily there were many others who had the same thought. I got a long with my dorm mates who were from England as well and we all buddied up and went out for lovely dinners and a couple drinks. I also made a friend who was planning on buying a Motorbike and riding South all the way up from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. Now at first I thought he was crazy. No way in hell would anyone ride a motorbike across Vietnam. But later on that afternoon I soon discovered that this is a regular thing! Many travellers buy a bike and then ride through the entire country rain or shine.
On my last day at Ho Chi Minh, the guy who was travelling by bike offered me a ride to my next destination instead of me getting the bus. Now in my head, I looked at the map and thought- that doesn’t look so far. Sure it won’t be too bad and he was also going to be riding through the scenic route too so I decided to say yes.
The next morning we checked out, strapped our bags to the back of the motorcycle, I said goodbye to my new found friends and whisked off. Eager to get out of the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh where there were literally millions of motorbikes and scooters wizzing around you. Horns beeping left right and centre. Its mayhem and for two travellers first time on the Vietnamese roads on a motorcycle, it was daunting. But Luckily we managed to get out of the hardest part in about an hour.
Hour two, it started to rain. Not just a little drizzle oh no- it was full on down pour. The heavens opened! So we stopped on the side of the motorway so we could grab our raincoats out of our strapped down rucksacks. And in the panic and fuss I managed to lean my leg against the exhaust pipe and singe the skin. Now let me tell you- that stung. Even more so when we had to get back on the bike because we had no water to pour over it and we were on a one way road where there wouldn’t be another pharmacy or shop for another two hours. So I didn’t get to attend to my wound for about an hour and 40 minutes and by then, the damage was done. We came across a pharmacy hidden in a tiny village where a wonderful lady tended to my burn and sold me an ointment that she said would fix it and keep it from getting infected.
6 hours down the line, the rain get so heavy that we have to stop by a little café (that is closed but the wifi was still on) and just sat down and waited for the rain to blow over. We played some cards to pass the time and mapped out where we were supposed to go next. We then figured out that it would be dark in an hour and we were around 5 hoursc away from Mui Ne. And the last thing either of us wanted to do was ride in the dark so we found the closest town, which was luckily half an hour away, booked two beds at a hostel and planned to stay there for the night.
Day Two- my burn was stinging and I’m dreading having to shower because everything that touches it, including water hurts. I also wake up with bruises from where I have been sitting on the bike for so long. I not only have to then realise that I have to do it all over again and sit on a bruised bottom for another 5 hours on the exact seat that bruised me in the first place but it’s also been forecasted to rain all day.
We decide to leave early so by 8am we’ve checked out and wrapped our bags in raincoats this time so it doesn’t get wet and then strapped them up tightly. The weather forecast predicted that it would only get rainy by 1 so we then had 4 hours of clear skies (hopefully)
Day two was a lot better than day one. Once we got that hang of things, the view was a lot better when we weren’t getting rained on. We came across some beautiful landscapes. We even saw the after math of a really cool sand sculpture festival. The sculptures were a little worn and broken but we had a walk around anyway and saw some pretty cool sculptures all made out of sand!
Because the weather held out, we were actually having a cool time. I was chilled out and had managed to make a cushion out of my rain coat to soften the seat I was bound to. It then soon turned a tad sour (I can laugh at this now though) when I was trying to guide my travel buddy through the map on his phone and was showing him the map over his shoulder when a man on a scooter rode up next to us and snatched the phone! Now luckily I didn’t let go but it ended up doing this scary tug of war with this Vietnamese thief trying to steal my friends phone down a motorway going 50kph.
He then let go when I wouldn’t give up the phone and skidded round and scootered off the opposite direction on the wrong side of the road.
Though I was a little shaken up, I was so relieved that I didn’t let go. If I had lost his iPhone, I’d have felt awful.
6 hours later- we finally made it.
Despite the fact that it was raining most of the way there and there were scary moment when I genuinely thought my life was in danger of being knocked off the bike by some crazy Lordy driver. I had a once in a lifetime experience with beautiful views, I met people I would not have met, I walked on lands I wouldn’t have stepped on and I saw views that I would never had seen with my own eyes.
Did I enjoy it? Sometimes
Was it dangerous? Absolutely
Would I do it again? … Without a doubt 🙂