Sharing the winding mountain road of the NE on a motorbike with the locals, buffaloes, and ecstatic jumping and waving children as we passed so close to their lives was a unique experience and one which we shall cherish.
Memories of lakes that emerge between jagged karsts and mountains caressed by clouds; patchwork fields of vivid greens and yellows, images that were so beautiful you felt they must be make believe.
Laughing through mud, holding your breath through overflowing rivers, pumping the gas to avoid stalling, bumping over unmade rocky roads, loving every minute!
The guide's knowledge of the culture, roads, people, his mastery of the language and his sense of fun, energy, enthusiasm and adventure enabled us to experience a slice of Vietnamese life we would not have otherwise been privy to.
Tea, food and singing Abba with so many curious smiling faces late into the night, drinking rice liquor and communicating through laughter and sign language.
Thank you for this unforgettable and exhilirating experience. It is a must!
Jean De Fougerolles
Vietnam is the most beautiful and interesting country that I have ever visited. Yet experiencing Vietnam through the generic tours on offer throughout the country is the best way to get the least out of your trip. Motorbiking allows you to get as close as possible to the scenery and people of Vietnam because the road is the lifeblood in the more remote parts of the north.
Our ability to ride on very difficult roads - a very fun and intense adventure in itself - allowed us to reach far away places like small hilltribe markets where we were the only foreigners around. For once we became the curiosity so the pleasure of the interaction was mutual and not one-sided. Also the guide's enthusiasm, knowledge and energy for all things Vietnamese has a truly infectious quality which permits a rare and wonderful glimpse of the many beauties which are Vietnam. There is no other way to see Vietnam!
How does a vegetarian wind up drinking ghekko liquor and desiring to play chicken with dogs who won't move off the road? Not entirely sure myself but that's what happened after 6 days of riding on the back of a motorbike.
Touring the north-east with Motorbiking Vietnam was unquestionably the highlight of Vietnam for me. Over 6 days we encountered border guards, markets, Abba, rain, tobacco, underwater bridges with unmarked edges, sun, bia hoi, highways, Abba, buffaloes, Tay, H'Mong and Dao, ricefields, incredible scenery, spiders, wake-up calls, Red Bull, China, villages, children, Abba.......
There were many once in a lifetime experiences - where else am I going to hear 'Living in a Prayer' translated into Vietnamese. A friend once asked if I would trade one day of riding on a Minsk for a lift in a UN-sponsored air-con luxury car complete with western food and a choice of CDs.....not a chance Jean!
The boat-tour-boys can keep their Nha Trang.
Cheers, Bac Kan, North-East Vietnam!
Justine Recordon, Jean de Fougerolles, Sarah Donnelly from UK and New Zealand