Experience 9: Motorbike adventure in the North of Vietnam
The fact that Rob, after having his motor driving license for seven years, does not have any accident might be remarkable. But that he continues to have that status after about 1000 kilometers of crazy roads in Vietnam, is a wonder! In this blog we describe a short impression about our trip. Take a look at our youtube movie for having a better idea how it was like. Realize that this is only a small peace of the experience our senses have gone through.
It all started with a little idea of Marlous about a trip on the back of a motor from Hanoi to Sa Pa. No need to say that Rob was in for this, but only if he could ride his own bike. We finally booked the trip through our nice little hotel (Advisory hotel, which is run by a cute Vietnamese family).
Our guide this trip was Crazy Minh, as we started to call him after a few days of adventure. We think it is great to have a guide that even we, Robbelous, had to temper in his enthusiasm.
Not only his drive to find great idyllic (rated 10 on the difficulty scale) roads led to his nickname Crazy Minh, also his urge to let us eat and drink everything on our way contributed to this name. Chicken, duck, buffalo, squid, (the heart of a) pig and even dog meat have been stimulating our taste buds. We should not forget to mention all local rice wines having strong liquor with snakes, scorpions, bird claws and giant bees did we endure. We did not eat the chicken and fish bones. The crushing sound of the Minh’s tooth did not change our minds. We don’t even feed our dogs with these kind of bones!
What hit us the most was the kindness and hospitality of the indigenous people that we met along the way. All of them were very happy to greet us on the street or invite us in their houses. A good example is the wedding we passed on a morning. The family insisted that we came in and that we celebrated with them by eating and drinking with them. We drunk vodka and local breweries…. declining was no option.
Besides this great happening we visited a lot of families in their houses. We realize that they did not see yet many western people, which made our experiences even more special. We already did see a lot of poverty on our planet and again we were hit intensely by the appalling conditions in which some populations have to live (de erbarmelijke omstandigheden waarin sommige bevolkingsgroepen moeten leven (and this while there are many realms, most of them government officials, in modern Vietnam). Nevertheless, every where we came, we received tee and food accompanied with a smile which always hit us hard.
Once we arrived at the villages, normally, the news was spread soon and the whole town came to look at us, as if we were Princess Maxima and Prince Willem from the Netherlands!
Within five days we drove from Hanoi to Sa Pa through Mai Châu, Son La, Muong Lai (close to Dien Bien for our googlemaps lovers) and Lai Châu. We drove on two old Minsks with new Japanese 4-stroke engines of 125 cc.
On the first and the fourth day, Lous sat on the bike with Minh, all other days she sat comfortable at the back of the bike of her “schatje” when she was not filming the actions of the two crazy exiting kids. On a certain moment Minh said to Rob: “I’ve never met such a cool girl, she never complaints about anything like a bumpy road or too steep paths”!
Once we arrived in Sa Pa, we met the first tourists on our trip. Before that moment we did not see any. After a great trip trough the valleys of Sa Pa on day six, Minh took the bikes back to Hanoi on the nigh train. We returned to Hanoi by train on day seven. An adventure, which we will never ever forget!
You want to experience this adventure as well? Ask the trip Advisor Hotel for more information. They will be happy to look after your backpacks and they will also arrange a free breakfast before you leave. Do not forget to sing a song with their lovely little daughter. Ask for Crazy Minh if you dare! His face book account is: Minh Nguyen Quang, or check: www.flamingotravel.com.vn.
Marlous and Rob