Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taking it easy motorcycling on the historic Ho Chi Minh Trail

Tired of the scorching heat in the city? Why not grab a motorcycle and drive off in to Viet Nam's beautiful, cool countryside? Motorcycle adventures are gaining popularity among young, adventurous Vietnamese and foreign travelers. No stops, no fixed schedules, just jumping on the bike and going- these are just some of the reasons why people are opting for motorcycle travel over traditional train and bus journeys.


The legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail was the supply line used by North Viet Nam soldiers to link the north with South Viet Nam during the American War. Soldiers, ammunition and supplies were carried by hand, bicycle and lorries for thousands of kilometres through the otherwise impenetrable jungle that covered Viet Nam's mountainous border with Laos. "I was very emotional as we drove along the road filled with so much history," Villa says.

With a map, two bikes, and bags packed with jungle essentials such as: clothing, Wellington boots and first-aid kits, the two Germans started on their journey. They began on the outskirts of Ha Noi, where the journey was quite easy and peaceful at first. On the first day, there was nothing but a calm, smooth road and the sunset on the horizon. As they made their way through the city of Da Nang, Villa and Marjak visited the Non Nuoc tourism site where they met Pham Van Hung, a motorcycle and dirt bike tour guide who leads trips along the trail.

Choose a suitable bike and ready for the journey

Taking advantage of their chance meeting, the two foreigners began their real adventure the next morning. As they passed through Pa Hon Village (Dong Giang District) they could not help but admire the stunning views. They took pictures of every little detail of the ethnic village, and asked Hung to take their pictures too. One thousand snapshots later, they left picturesque Pa Hon.

At midnight, they arrived at Prao, a mountainous town in Dong Giang District. Even though it was late, they still found the strength to wander around the town.

Smiles of local children 

"I like to drench myself in the secluded atmosphere of the mountains, and in every detail of people's lives here. You can only enjoy these things by travelling like this. I love the spontaneity, I love that I can stop wherever I want, which I cannot do with a strict schedule on a booked tour led by a guide wearing a tie. My guide on this trip is not so bad either," Marjak shared.

The next morning, they continued their adventure from Quang Nam to Thua Thien – Hue.
I also met up with a Dutch couple Marcus Kamp, 33, and Bree Angelique, 28, who recently returned from their own journey along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the opposite direction as the two Germans, from Hue to Quang Nam. They each had a dirt bike and went with two tour guides named Duong Tien Hung and Le Van Son. On the first day of the trip, Kamp and Angelique enjoyed the fresh air under the trees along the A Roang – A Tep Pass between the two provinces while listening to their guides introduce the fascinating tales of Cong Troi (Heaven Gate) and of this legendary road during the war. They stopped in Ta Vang Village (Tay Giang District). Kamp could not help sharing his emotions: "The strange feeling when we set foot in the traditional village of the Co Tu ethnic group was amazing. It definitely boosted our enthusiasm for the bike trip."

They explained that they met about a dozen expats who were also travelling on bikes during their two day trip along the trail. All of them were ecstatic about the amazing views of Truong Son Mountain and the surrounding jungle. What amazed them even more was the life and culture of the people they met along the way.

A beautiful day on the road 

Marco Bouwer, a 31-year old German tourist who rode the trail shared: "We are really relaxed and comfortable in nature, away from the heat and traffic that overwhelm the cities. Also, the people were friendly and curious. We often caught them looking and laughing at us, which in a way was pretty funny. We didn't mind."

If you find yourself in the mood for a spontaneous adventure, you do not have to get online to plan your journey alone. Contact to the travel agent for full services and have chance to go with enthusiastic guide who can tell you thousands of stories along the road.  Ho Chi Minh Trail is the perfect route for those want to experience the motorcycling and adventure tours.

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