Amazing. The Vietnamese have little and work hard, but they’re generous, friendly and hospitable people. They exude a sort of quiet pride and dignity. At no point did we feel threatened or at risk from the locals. I wish I could say the same about some towns in England.
What was the bike like?
The bike was a slice of history – 125cc ex-soviet two-stroke Minsk, complete with military webbing (full of spare parts) and paintjob. It was a shaky, screaming, kick-start tribute to the raw beauty of biking and it drew a blue smoky line across Vietnam without a single complaint.
Sum it up!
After a hard day of riding, we arrived in Halong Bay and checked into a hotel close to the port. We’d had a couple of near misses with reckless Vietnamese drivers and our nerves were shot. Maria was aching from the long hours on the back of the cramped, buzzing, little Minsk. At that point we were wondering what we were doing there, so far from home. But the next day we got back on the motorcycle, caught the ferry across to Cat Ba Island and absolutely everything changed.
The ferry wound out among tiny islands that were little more than rock outcrops and the views were overwhelming. As the ferry docked in Cat Ba, I kicked the bike into life and we roared out of the small port and straight into one of the best rides of my life.
The trail leading to the other side of the island skirted the sea before whipping inland and up over hairpin-strewn hills that the Minsk could only tackle in first.
Suddenly we were there, in the adventure that we’d imagined when we suck the map of Vietnam up on the wall back home. The liberating feeling of being out there together on our humble little Minsk, exploring an exotic island on the other side of the world, made all the bad parts worth it.
Explore Indochina supplied the Minsk. They also operate tours. Contact www.exploreindochina.com