Vietnam By Bike: The Greatest Trip On Earth
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Let’s pretend for a moment that I’m a jacked-up, grease-loving, motorhead that feels at home in leather pants. I would boast of my vehicular chariot’s duel exhausts, 454 “ponies under the hood,” and chrome-plated deely-bops. I’d even have the Kia logo tattooed on my right forearm. Also, I can get away with a Kia tattoo on my arm because my last name was changed to Badass.
Well, Mr. Badasses don’t lounge at home watching Anthony Bourdain reruns while rearranging their wall hangings to make room for the postcards they want to hang on the living room wall (I’m not saying I’m that guy, either). Badasses crack open an Old Milwaukee and turn on BBC’s Top Gear, the British show featuring three hilarious friends spotlighting the latest and greatest products from the world of cars . . . and automotive deely-bops.
For the sake of continuing our imaginative exercise, let’s say we pop over to Top Gear only to see a Vespa zipping along a remote beach and through dense jungles. Seconds before the bike pulls into a tiny, remote village, we realize this isn’t happening anywhere near the U.K. Interest peaked, you lean a little closer to find out the destination of your next motor-biking trip abroad.
Vietnam’s Highway 1, from Saigon to Hanoi has reeled in another believer.
Lonely Planet recently laid out several trips in both Vietnam and Cambodia that will convince anyone of a two-wheeled tour through the up-and-coming motorbike Mecca:
The gorge road from Dong Van to Meo Vac is the stuff of biker yore, its towering cliffs looming high above and plummeting to the Nho Que River in the distance below. Just remember to keep an eye on the road, despite the breathtaking scenery.
In Cambodia, get your kicks on the new Route 66:
An ancient Angkorian highway that runs due east from Angkor via Beng Mealea to the vast temple complex of Preah Khan. Ancient stone bridges from the time of Jayavarman VII acts as historical waymarkers along the route, including the dramatic Spean Ta Ong with more than 20 arches.
The visions of unbridled road stretching on for miles, through jungles and over ancient stone bridges, we settle back down into our couch and continue watching Top Gear. The thought strikes: There may be no need for black leather chaps when mingling with villagers along the route. And there’s really no reason for loads of horsepower when your goal is the experience rather than the status. In this part of the world, and from the seat of your motorcycle, there are experiences sure to be had.
Now, I’m off to the market. I just finished my last Old Milwaukee.
About the Author
Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at TheJonWickproject.wordpress.com. (@ExpedJon)