I finished my motorbike trip through Vietnam with a two week loop of its northern end. This is the story of that final stage, as told through pictures that I took along the way. Ba Be National Park must be one of the most tranquil places in Vietnam. It might even win the trophy … Continue reading 36. The Northern Loop
Riding from Khe Sanh to Phong Nha, my offended digestive system calmed down at the same rate as my surroundings. The forest thinned, the river gorges shallowed, and the mountains gave way to the bizarre, dark spires of karst country. Shooting vertically from the flat ground, the landscape resembled an enormous graveyard, or something straight … Continue reading 35. A date with the Mafia
A second tour of the Hai Van Pass in clearer weather buoyed my spirits. Although I couldn’t quite see the horizon, the road was a pleasure and plenty of people had come out to play. Some happy couple in full wedding dress chose to have photos taken on top of the the old war battlements … Continue reading 34. The goat in the window
Stage 4: Hoi An - Danang - Hai Van Pass - Hue - Hai Van Pass (325km) Coming down to Hoi An from the Ho Chi Minh Highway was like returning to civilisation from the Lost World. Although I had only been away from the coast for five days, it felt like a short lifetime, … Continue reading 33. Homesick
Stage 3: Nha Trang - Buon Ma Tuot - Pleiku - Pham Duc - Danang (894km) After a few days of exploring Nha Trang with all of its creature comforts, I packed my life onto my bike and set off at first light. I headed inland again, weaving through a tapestry of agriculture in the … Continue reading 32. I see a red flag…
Still smarting from being told off by the police, I left Mui Ne and began the climb up to the cleaner air of the south-central highlands . After the searing heat and blistering wind of the sand dunes, Dalat was a welcome relief. Humidity is a dirty word that shall not be spoken. Instead, misty clouds hang in the valleys between the hills until late mornings, and the air is full of an earthy pine smell from the forests that ring the town.
STAGE 1 Ho Chi Minh City - Vung Tau - Mui Ne (297km) HO CHI MINH CITY For the first couple of days after buying my bike I lay awake at night wondering what the hell I had done. HCMC was belted with torrential rainstorms that turned the roads into turbid … Continue reading 30. The odyssey begins…
In 2008, Top Gear aired an episode featuring Vietnam. Wearing makeshift helmets and loud holiday shirts, the three presenters rode the Hai Van Pass on local motorbikes. Afterwards, Jeremy Clarkson peered at the camera, and in a voice that sounded like he was talking through a very long pipe, declared that the pass was, ‘One … Continue reading 29. How dangerous are Vietnam’s roads?
Con Dao is an isolated cluster of tiny islands in the South China Sea. Having escaped the aerial bombing, chemical warfare and over-development that has besieged so much of Vietnam, it is home to some of the best preserved old growth forests, and probably the most pristine coastline and reefs in the whole country. It … Continue reading 28. The Devil’s Island; Hell’s own Hell