We first read about touring Vietnam on Minsks whilst in Malaysia. Being keen on motrocycles back home, my girlfriend and I were going to follow it up when we got to Vietnam. The magazine which covered the tour was left behind, the details never taken down and that was the end of that. Or so we thought. A chance meeting with a Brit/Scots couple (Tim and Helen) a few weeks later in northern Thailand changed all that, as they also knew about the Minsk tours organised here. We all decided to see what it was all about.
As Explore Indochina gave more and more information to us over the net we found ourselves ever keener to head off into the mountains on motorcycles we knew almost nothing about. We all met up in Hanoi and finally saw the bikes. They looked a bit small and agricultural, hopefully up to the job! By the end of the first day we were already singing their praises - comfortable work-horses with enough power to keep the mopeds at bay when necessary, as well as capable of manoeuvering in the tightest spaces! Good all round fun!
The next few days were spent winding up into the mountains, down into bright valleys covered in rice fields, the whole route punctuated with tiny villages full of some of the most hospitable and friendly people we have ever met!
Locals seemed to think we were a little mad to cross some of the hellish routes they saw us on, particularly as the very few tourists they ever see usually choose the 'safe' option of a 4WD jeep. Being surrounded by the fabulous beauty, tranquility (and Minsks) all their lives it's hardly surprising they can't help taking these things for granted.
Thanks to our guide's inexhaustible translating and the friendliness of all those we met we had an unforgettable trip. The original aim had been to have a fun ride and enjoy some nice scenery on the way. Neither of us had anticipated the welcome we might receive, nor how whole villages would do so much to help find all the things we kept leaving behind by mistake! We were so touched by their sincerity that we got back to Hanoi and decided we had to have more! We may both be forgetful but the Minsks and the Vietnamese experience could never be forgotten. Off now, got to catch a Minsk heading north-west.......
Cheggars!...and many thanks
Nick and Nouria from England