In every travel, there are some things we do out of impulse. Things we end up doing that are not planned or not on the script. And those things end up being the best things that can happen when you travel.
We stayed in Da Lat for just a few days before receiving the tempting invitation from our host to join him and a group of strangers for 3 days riding a motorbike in Southern Vietnam. After a few drinks, this surely sounded like the perfect idea, we thought. I mean, why not?
So we packed our bags
again and sent the excess to our destination, only to see it again a few days later. Not to worry, what could go wrong in leaving your luggage with a stranger that will send it to an unknown location? Nothing, we thought.
Rain and wind was set to keep us company for most of the trip, but off we went to one of the best trips we’ve done in South East Asia!
Our 3-day Ride in Southern Vietnam:
The day we were set to leave Da Lat was raining and cold. We just wore some ponchos, which happened to have a few holes on them, and jumped onboard on a bike that Jean struggled to ignite. Nothing a couple more tries wouldn’t fix. Our guide, Tony, who was carrying a friendly lady, Sharon, kicked off the trip and we followed suit, saying goodbye to friendly Da Lat.
Then finally, our adventure started.
We started climbing up the hilly and wet roads of Da Lat trying to catch up with our experienced fellow rider.
At our first stop, we learnt a little about how the locals ingeniously kept bears and tigers that lived in the region at bay and how they managed to grew peppers there instead. Simple and seemed effective.
Second stop, we visited one of the few tribes left in the area, where the woman are the rulers and the men are actually handed down to marry. An interesting insight into the lives of that people, specially since in most Vietnam, the woman seems to be in charge of the situation. We listened attentively to our guide and we moved on with a sense that we wanted to stay and learn from them, even if we couldn’t speak the same language. We had to leave. So off to our next promising destination.
Next, just a few more kilometres from the previous stop, we paused for a quick look at how locals make the famous ‘rice wine’ or simply happy water. A spirit in fact, made with fermented rice and sometimes even infused with snakes and scorpions, to boost stamina. Guess, we’ll leave that for latter.
On the same farm, locals ‘grow’ or perhaps raise crickets and other animals. One of them is the weasel. A little marsupial which eats coffee beans and produces a very expensive type of coffee. You may have heard of Kopi Luak. In Vietnam, it’s simply, weasel coffee. A smooth and delicate aroma but not sure if worth all the hype.
At the end of the tour, we sat down at the table and were served with some crickets and chilli sauce. Guess we had to give it a go…and it turned out as a pretty plain, crunchy snack. Packed with protein, though! Good laughs followed.
Off the next destination, which wasn’t much different. A silk farm were we stopped and checked out the arduous process of preparing silk. Everything is used and even the worms that are not discarded are fried and served with lemongrass and salt. Apparently, a very tasty snack and totally approved by Jean.
Lunch time was close but before we stopped at the famous Elephant Falls. A waterfall that is powerful and equally beautiful. All the way down, almost under it, the flow of water hitting the rocks sent us a full-on bursts of cold water. It almost felt like a cleansing process! The perks of nature…
After a quick break for lunch our trip continued.
We rode through hills and fields and more fields of coffee, curry and other green leaf trees which made the cloudy and foggy scenery even more appealing.
A few stops to enjoy the views and recover the original shapes of our bottoms. We followed through until our final stop for the day.
As we rode through the slippery roads, the sun sets behind us and we ride through the dark and rain. After what seemed like endless hours, we finally reached our destination. Wet, tired and hungry, we were really up for some food and rest.
What followed though was a night filled with delicious Vietnamese dishes, lots of happy water and new friends as we met with our host from the hostel, Leo, her trip companion Gaby and later, the last bike duo: Mr. K and our last friend-to-be Amy. Together with Tony and Sharon, we were some happy campers, soaking in the culture and amazing food after a long journey on two wheels.
After dinner however, when we seemed to be full and tired enough for bed, the group found some branches outside a nearby river and everyone set off on a mission to make a fire while we laughed and shared tales our travels and life. The night only ended as the cold became too much and bed seemed like the best company.
That night, we slept in a long house. A typical Vietnamese home where the family sleeps together in a house made of bamboo and wood. Mosquitoes were at bay with our nets over us and there was no way we couldn’t have had a great night’s sleep.
As we woke up the next day, we prepared to hit the road again. Only first, we visited the local village where we slept and were obnoxious of the previous night. The unpaved road lead to river and the long houses were neatly settled one after the other. Pigs, chickens and dogs all live free to roam around as apparently everyone knows whose is whose. The life is simple and days go slow, with few amenities around. Many smiles were exchanged though.
The whole crew, now 6 of us, was back on the road and we headed towards west and kept witnessing amazing sceneries as we stopped around farms and villages to learn more about the way of life of the locals.
Next, before we even realising, we enter a private area that leads up to one of the nicest roads in the whole trip. A long stretch of paved road crossing through a green tunnel. We suddenly stop and jump off our bikes to head down to check out a waterfall.
Worth every slippery bit of the journey, we stopped half-way through to enjoy the majestic views of this exotic scenery. A duo of blue and brownish like lakes side by side, almost touching but incredibly separated from each other. We bathe and enjoy the cold water before heading back on the road.
Before the day ended we arrived at the city we would sleep for the night. A hotel this time, which made for a nice change from the previous day. Again, we got together for dinner and a surprising night at the karaoke to relax and laugh it off the hard day on the bike.
Our last day on a bike started a bit sadder than we would have expected. A group of people that met for accident now have become good friends and we didn’t want our experience to end this soon.
Back on the road one last time, this time we headed east to reach the ocean and arrive in Nha Trang.
After more farms and breathtaking views, we stopped at one plot of land where the locals were sowing cassava. We surely, tried to help and had some fun while they tried to exchange one of the boys for Jean’s labour. No deal but good laughs and back on the bike we went.
As we approached Nha Trang, we stopped one last time now to enjoy the ocean. We made it! Our 3 day bike trip has come to an end and we were pretty stocked we’ve managed to ride through one of the most dangerous roads in Vietnam safely and with only good memories to remember.
Off we went to drift through the mad traffic of a large city and say goodbye to each other. Sad but definitely with our hearts full for being able to enjoy this amazing adventure with even more incredible people, we said our ‘see you later’.
TL;DR? Watch the video of our trip and let us know what you think!
Larissa & Jean