Greetings From Hanoi On A Motorbike Tour by Guy Allen (article and photos)
Original location: http://www.mctrader.com.au/news-and-reviews/article/articleid/62044.aspx
If you’re wondering why this blog has been a little quiet, it’s because I’ve been gallivanting around north Vietnam with a like-minded group of nutters (the Lemmings Motorcycle Club) for a couple of weeks.
I’m writing this while happily ensconced in the Tamarind Café in the old quarter of Hanoi, enjoying the local coffee and listening to, bizarrely, Stand by your man.
Hanoi is a wonderfully chaotic city – at least to western eyes – and great fun. The traffic is ruled by step-throughs and scooters, in numbers which have to be seen to be believed. It looks mad because it’s jam-packed, street signs and stop lights are only an approximate indication of where the traffic might go, and the locals have raised creative use of roads to an art-form. It looks dangerous, but isn’t particularly so in practice.
However I didn’t come here to study international traffic patterns. The real reason was to join a nine-strong group from the Lemmings for an eight-day tour of the countryside north-west of the city, all the way up to the Chinese border. Run by a company called Off Road Vietnam, it was a 1200km eight-day adventure using a mix of home stay and motel accommodation, run through some well-known places (such as Sapa) and lots of locations well off the beaten track.
The bikes were GL160 Hondas, XL125s, plus a sole XL250 for a couple riding two-up, which proved about right for the conditions and pace. (The XL125s were being replaced with 250s just after our trip.) One of the things you quickly notice is that a kilometer in Vietnam is not a kilometer in Australia. Believe it or not 200km (which you can knock over in a couple of hours at home) is a big ride over here. You see you’re dealing with tight little roads littered with villages, buffalo, and lots of other little surprises.
I’ll do a more thorough article in Motorcycle Trader mag soon, but the short version is we had a ball and saw parts of the country that we would never have experienced any other way. Our two guides, Long and Hung, were invaluable. Long, in particular, is an absolute gem of a companion, who also had the brains to re-organise the itinerary on the run as the situation required it.
The trip cost about US$110-140 per day, including guides, bikes, fuel and meals – great value. Anh, the owner of the business, is well aware that this isn’t the cheapest option out there but says he prefers to do the job properly, rather than scrimp, and his actions back up his word.
I’ve had a few days to calm down since the adventure and, even with that time for the initial warm glow to wear off, I’d highly recommend the company’s services.
I’ll load the full set here at MCtrader.com.au around Feb 3, after I get back to Australia. We’re already talking about the next trip—
There are many more articles about motorcycling in Vietnam and you can read more by following this link