You’ve often heard it said by gung-ho travellers, “When in Rome…”, but sometimes you have to be game to really do as the locals do. In Vietnam everyone rides motorbikes and Intrepid’s Jared Alster was a little anxious about taking to streets on two wheels – that was until he discovered that he could let someone else take the handlebars…
“Sure, Hanoi and Saigon are spectacular metropolises anchoring Vietnam in the north and south. However, I prefer the serene countryside outside Hue, a city at about the midway point of the country situated close to the coast. This is where I experienced one of the highlights of my two-week trip.
The day started with an early morning pickup at the hotel. But instead of climbing into a taxi or bus, each person in our group mounted a motorbike, one of the ubiquitous signs of Vietnam. We were each in the capable hands of a private guide, and were able to relax and take in the passing scenes. Before setting off, the guides shouted a sort of motorbike gang cheer: “one, two, three, hoo ya!”
Starting out, we raced down strangely empty paved roads. Soon, we turned onto a dirt path and the local village came to life: water buffalo in rice paddies, children on the front steps of homes, friendly locals on foot, bicycle, and, yes, motorbike.
We zoomed in and out of narrow, crisscrossed pathways for hours, visiting a cemetery, a nunnery (for a delicious lunch) and imperial ruins. We also saw how incense and conical hats were made.
As we returned to the relative hustle of Hue city, I was not ready for the adventure to end. But as we stood on the front step of our hotel, waving goodbye, we heard once again “one, two, three, hoo ya” as our guides rode off into the distance.”
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* photo by Steven Clarke – Intrepid Photography Competition