Sitting in my apartment in Daegu, South Korea a few months ago, I was searching the Internet high and low for something interesting to do for my measly one week vacation from teaching english. Being from Canada, I wanted to explore at least one other Asian country while I was in the region. So many people I know here have done the Thailand thing, but I wanted something different, something exciting, and unique. I found that when I stumbled upon this site, I was instantly sold and told myself this was something I just had to do. I can't imagine a better way to spend a week, and would have loved a longer trip.
I arrived in Hanoi on a Saturday night, and much to the relief of this fairly inexperienced traveller, a driver was holding my name card ready to take me to the Classic I hotel in Hanoi's old quarter. All previously arranged by Explore Indochina and much appreciated. I didn't know what to think of Hanoi at first, chaotic was the most frequently reoccuring thought I think. I spent the night in my comfortable hotel room, hesitant to go outside, and wondering what I had gotten myself into.
The next day I met the guide and went over the final preparations. Later I met the two guys I'd be spending the next few days with. After a nice meal and some interesting varieties of 'zeal', I made my way back to the hotel and to a good nights rest.
The next morning, we were introduced to the sturdy Minsks. I hadn't driven a bike in several years, and remember thinking that this would be the worst place to forget! After breakfast, we were on the open road. Cruising down the long highway out of Hanoi was incredible and I knew the next five days would be an unforgettable experience.
The trip was planned out perfectly. Each day the mountains and the scenery just kept getting bigger and better and each night seemed bitter sweet, as although I was exhausted, it meant the end of another day. Our small group of three made it seem like just a bunch of friends on the road, instead of an organized tour, which made it a much more unique experience.
Every day, and around every corner it seemed, the scenery was just breathtaking, and being on the bikes made you feel so much closer to it. I took 300 pictures and could have taken many more, the views in northern Vietnam were just amazing. The incredible scenery was matched only by the incredible experience of meeting the people along the way. The small shop owners and their families with whom we were able to interact with through our guide, the people who would smile and wave to us along every step of our trek, the minority tribes people working along the road and the incredibly cute kids whose faces are still clear in my mind.
All of these things made for a truly remarkable and rewarding experience that I feel so grateful and lucky to have had the opportunity to do. All of my initial doubts and concerns were quashed, and although I had huge expectations for the tour coming in, it was above and beyond my expectations. I went to Halong Bay afterward, and although it was nice, it couldn't compare to what I had just seen. I hope you all realize how truly rich you are to be able to do this type of thing for a living, and endless thanks for sharing it.
Jamie Fry from Canada