If you have never had a motor bike trip, you have never been to the real Vietnam!
I am not a big fans of motor bike, and my mom always said motor bikes are too dangerous. But the most common type of transportation here in Vietnam is motor bike and each person has at least 1 motor bike in Hanoi. People say if you have never ridden on a motor bike, you have never been able to explore the real side of Vietnam. So here you go, my 1st motor bike tour.
My tour guide is a 51-year-old Vietnamese man who has been a tour guide for 20 years. Everyone called him Uncle 9 since he is the 9th child in his family. When he was young, he served in the army and was re-located to Cambodia for 2 years. Life was hard at that time but he did develop living skills in a wild environment. So I felt pretty safe with him indeed.
The best thing about going on a motor bike tour was that you could stop wherever and whenever you like to take pictures. Our first stop was a rice paper making place. Rice paper is the main food of every Vietnamese meal. The famous spring roll is also made from rice paper. I have never seen how rice paper was being made. And I was given a chance to make my own rice paper too. Of course, it was not as thin and even as the one that the expert made, but it’s still taste so good!
After having breakfast, we went to My Son Sanctuary, or some people called it “Vietnam Angkor Wat”. It was the ancient town of the kingdom of Champa, which flourished from the 2nd to the 15th century. It is one of the ancient towns in Vietnam which is on World Heritage List. Don’t stray far from the towers and marked paths, as unexploded mines may still be in the ground. Although many temples were heavily damaged in the Vietnam War you can still get the Tomb Raider feel. Uncle 9 just told me don’t stray far from the towers and marked paths, as unexploded mines might still be in the ground.
In the afternoon, we were all the way up to the mountain, where we stayed overnight. On the way, Uncle 9 introduced me to many plants that we city people have never seen, like cinnamon tree, black pepper, and sesame. He also told me how to distinguish dry rice and wet rice. The common type of rice we eat is wet rice which is planted in lowland and abundant in amount, whereas the more premium dry rice is planted in high land mountainous area and little in quantity each year.
We also visited some minority villages. There are 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, and most of them are still living in remote mountainous areas. Although resources were limited and life was hard, children in these minority villages were very happy. They kept saying “hello, hello!” to me when they saw me this foreigner, and simply a picture with them made their day! Bad that I forgot to bring some candies! One interesting culture in the villages was that men have a far higher status than women, and women need to go to the farm in the morning, come back home in the afternoon to take care of the kids, and cook for the family for dinner, while men are gathering in the community house drinking coffee or beer! Lucky that I was not born in one of the Vietnamese minority villages!
After a good night sleep, we head back to down town. We arrived Hoi An, which is a famous tourist spot in central Vietnam and many foreigners’ must-go when they come to Vietnam. It was a nice colorful little town with yellow houses, pink flowers, green water and blue sky. It was so relaxing to walk around the town, take some pictures and enjoy a cup of good Vietnamese coffee!
Before heading back to my home, Uncle 9 took me to the famous Da Nang beach. Da Nang is a coastal town in the central of Vietnam and it is one of the fastest developed cities in Vietnam in recent years. It has the most beautiful beach in the world, as well the best seafood. I am so glad to have worked in Da Nang for 2 months for a project, and enjoyed a great time there!
After the trip, Uncle 9 and I have become good friends and I sometimes checked with him where to go to in Vietnam. He was so nice that he sometimes took me for a ride for free! I am sure I will be back to Da Nang for visiting Uncle 9, as well as the Save the Children colleagues here!