Not sure how to recap the last week or so since so much has happened. Ended up flying into Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) since driving in failed. Ended up tagging along with the Ho family and driving to Mui Ne for a little time at the sand dunes and beach. If you ever get the chance give it a look. You can tell they are getting ready to build some bigger resorts around the dunes but right now its just a café and some Vietnamese guys renting quads from the 50s and a few old jeeps. We rented the jeep and talked the guy into letting me drive. I managed to freak everyone out I think bombing down some of the dunes (and to be fair I freaked myself out a bit). The rest of Mui Ne is pretty developed and you can tell it’s a Russian holiday place. Some of the waiters speak Russian and most places are catered to them. We did find a seafood place on the beach that was great. They pretty much had anything you could think of…On the way back to Saigon we stopped to pick up some dragon fruit, and there are two kinds, one is pink inside and the other white. Don’t bother with the white…We picked up 100kg they are so good.
From Mui Ne we headed back to Saigon and flew to Hoi An for 3 nights. Did pretty much what you should do in Hoi An which is bum around the town enjoying the sights and eating the street food. Trá Ho has a special gift of finding the best street food. Think my favorite was roll cake from her tailors moms street corner. Its not at all cake like but….trying to think how to explain it and I cant, just try it next time you are there haha. You also need to look into sugar cane juice. You can find it in most SEA (south east Asia) countries but its just a little better in Vietnam. Managed to get 12 pairs of shorts made since I assume I will be running through a lot along the way. So I had been talking to a few different people on how to buy a motorcycle in Hoi An and I eventually got connected with 76 Customs. Tried out a Honda winn first but that little nugget made me feel like I was riding a midget, so we called around and found a guy selling a Honda XR 125 (small dirt bike). Got a new rack welded up on it and rolled out yesterday.
Day one on the bike…Day started out great with more roll cake and a great ride over the Hái Vân Pass. You might remember this from the show top gear. They called it one of the greatest highways in the world…think they went out on a limb with that quote. Don’t get me wrong its gorgeous but best in the world…tough sell. If you are in Hoi An though it’s an easy ride and can be knocked out in a day. Rent a bike or scooter and get after it, that or get a guide but you don’t need one. After HV Pass I took some back roads on my way to Hue which included more stunning roads. Things got interesting when a truck ran me off the road (nothing too crazy we have had closer encounters) and when I went off road I dropped my tracker. Little booger slipped out of the camera pocket and by the time I went back to find it 10min later it was gone. Spent 45min talking with locals trying to figure out where it was. My 3G was weak so couldn’t just track it down, since well it is a tracker. Then on the way into Hue I had a puncture and road in the last 15k on a flat back tire. Trying to dodge traffic on a flat with a big bag on that back is a chore. After a few more close calls I got to Hue and found a little dude in the street to change my tube. Guy had 6 tools all of which could fit in a old coffee can and he got it changed. We celebrated with a few beers and possibly a cigarette…
Day 2 dirt biking started with me getting a new tire cause the old one was shot. I could have braved it but since the plan was to ride the old Ho Chi minh Trail…why risk it. So got the bike into a proper shop and borrowed Mr. Kims personal bike and set off to find my tracker. Found the last known location and started asking the locals if they knew where it was. One little boy who knew a little English started to help asking around. Within 20min he found someone who had it. To say thanks I gave him, his pregnant mom, guy with the tracker, and some other fella 500,000 dong. Everyone was so happy next thing I knew I was sitting in some guys house ripping cigaretts and drinking beer. Soon about 20 people showed up and I was holding what I assume was a 10day old newborn… Later an old lady who had actually picked up the tracker the day before stormed in and demanded 500,000 dong and I wasn’t about to tell her to ask one of the others and give a sharing lesson. Another 500k out of my pocket and 3 beers later it was time to go. Headed back in and picked up my bike with a new back tire (didn’t have the right size so they suck on a smaller one….), a new seat, and rolled out. Ended up taking part of the old Ho Chi Minh trail on my way to Khe San. There is not one Ho Chi Minh Trail or we would have found it and bombed the snot out of it back in the day. There is a spider web of trails you can take through the mountains. I just chose one of them and it was stellar. A solid rain cloud came in for the most beautiful part so I couldn’t take any pictures but what a great road. I would say that was much better than HV pass but maybe the top gear fellas didn’t have time to make that run. HCM Trail let me to the HCM Highway (also beautiful) which took me to Khe San. On the way I got hit with every type of rain that forest gump explains in the movie except the one where the rain jumps up at you (didn’t find myself wading any creeks). The last storm was one of the stronger storms Ive experienced in SEA. Was doing fine until lightning hit what felt like 15 meters away and I almost pooped my pants. Started to notice the locals were even running for cover and getting off their bikes, which would have been a wise choice but…no. Arrived in Khe San soaking wet and checked into a nice hotel for a grand total of $15. Im definitely the only foreigner here and likely one of 5 staying in the 7 story 200 room hotel. The guy at the front desk is even special asking if he could try to pick me up. Wasn’t going to kill the mans dream of picking up a white dude so let him give it a try, he failed.
Well I have a 7 hr ride to look forward to tomorrow. Hopefully less rain because my bag that I assumed was waterproof is not.