coastal cruising in vietnam
you know what they say: when in vietnam, do as the locals do. or, something like that. when it comes to transportation in vietnam 'going local' can only mean one thing: on the back of a motorbike. in a country of 90 million people, there are 37 million (registered) motorbikes. so when planning my journey from hue down to hoi an, there could only be one way to travel.
i was in southeast asia for the entire month of october 2015. during my 12 days in vietnam a good friend came to tag along on the adventures. we discovered hue riders, a local tour operator that focuses on day tours of hue and the DMZ. but the company, helmed by mr. hieu and his band of merry motorbikers, also does longer trips south to hoi an. i strapped on my helmet, secured my luggage to the back of mr. hieu's bike, and settled into my rumbly seat for the 70-mile journey down the coast.
the first stretch of the journey is carpeted in verdant rice fields, as mountains slope gently upward in the distance. all i could hear was the gentle, steady whooshing of air past my ears as mr. hieu careened down the highway at a speed that, had i not been drunk on the scenery, might have raised an eyebrow. but when you're drinking in greens and blues somewhere where land meets sky, it's hard to care about anything else.
along the route mr. hieu makes stops at some of the popular attractions. the first was elephant springs, a natural rock pool formation buried deep in the jungle, at the end of a winding path, surrounded by misty mountains. a life-size rock carved into the shape of an elephant looks over the gurgling pools that tier their way down the slope of the hill. mr. hieu was also sure to take us to marble mountain (a major tourist trap that can honestly be skipped, unless you're into being pressured to buy giant, carved lion statues or are looking to redecorate with everything Buddha), the hai van pass, and china beach.
we stopped roadside for a local lunch of fresh pork summer rolls, noodles, and frosty beers, all totaling somewhere around $4 each. after lunch we were safely left at the doorstop of our hotel in hoi an, covered in grime, crispy from the sun, but supremely happy for this new angle of vietnam.