Grabbed the early morning ferry from Cat Ba to Ha Long. As I left the ferry, I was uber stoked about seeing some more of Vietnam. Especially Northeastern Vietnam, most people head south and this area is unspoiled by tourist and visitors. Off the beaten path and what I’m looking for! No english menus, no tourist touts, no changed culture, and no western food! A truly authentic experience! I put my headphones on, snapped the bike into gear, and started my journey northeast towards the Chinese border. I hit the road playing a little Creedence Clearwater Rival “Long As I Can See the Light”, chill bumps on my skin, and a grin about as big I can possible make on my face. There is something that feels spiritual about riding a motorcycle. You feel connected with your surroundings. You feel the wind blasting your face, the subtle temperature changes from each passing river, the texture of the road beneath your tires, and the smell of all of the sweet floral vegetation. You feel everything! You are exposed to take it all in. The IMAX style panoramic views on a motorcycle are incomparable to anything that can be experienced in a vehicle, bus, or any other form of transportation. That is why people who ride motorcycles absolutely love them! My Vietnam motorcycle journey has reminded me of how much I love cruising on two wheels. There is something that says “freedom” on a bike. You get into a groove on a bike as you are gliding around each twisty corner and you just lose yourself. You see an interesting road, you just turn. Why? You just want to see where it goes. And then you find some unexpected surprise but it was really never about the destination anyways. It was about the journey….just riding, observing the surroundings, and enjoying the moment. That is why a motorcycle is the best form of transportation for travel. Especially for someone like me doing long term travel and has the time. If I stay in some random unexpected village or someone’s house, that is cool. I’m on no schedule or strict plan. I just want unforgettable experiences.
So exploring Northeastern Vietnam has been more incredible than anything than I could have imagined. I’ll let the pictures illustrate the glorious scenery but the overall experience has been indescribably wonderful! The people have been very friendly and welcoming even though my attempts at Vietnamese have been pretty poor. I have no choice and try not to butcher their language too bad but english is not an option. Even the word “yes and no” is not known here. As I have said before just saying the word is not enough. You have to say it with the correct tones. I have found that I have to wave my hands up and down like an orchestra conductor to help me get the tones correct on pronouncing words. I’m sure the locals are like, “okay Beethoven, got it, you want a bottle of water.” I have to say this method works for me no matter how idiotic I look. Even showing written words doesn’t always work here. So yes, I will make a fool of myself for a bottle of water. Don’t judge. 🙂
Back to the point, people are very friendly in Vietnam. My first day in Hanoi, my dinner and beer tab was picked up by a local who wanted his son to learn english and just talk to me. I have had too many numerous affable experiences with the people to list and describe how awesome they are. On the bike, I roll into a village and everyone waves, smiles, and yells “hello.” Guess people know that word. Believe me, they don’t know any other words. So I yell back with a huge smile and wave, “sin chowwww!” which is hello in Vietnam! I’m addicted to the welcoming warm smiles and hello. It lifts me up every time someone does that to me. In Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” he states that how to win people is by smiling and being happy to see them. Well Vietnam, it worked, I think I love you! Also on the bike, a motorbike will pull up next to me cruising down the road, they’ll stay even with me looking over and smiling, and then give a friendly wave. I mean the friendliness is everywhere in North Vietnam! I stopped for a rest at a roadside store and the shop owner started giving me fruit and crackers. She kept offering until I was sickly full and I tried to communicate “no more!” When I tried to pay, she angrily refused. I am often shocked how nice people are here. It just seems to be a part of their culture which I am still trying to understand. I have to say it seems to be a very courteous culture.
Drive to the Ban Goic Waterfalls
Ban Goic Waterfalls – The Niagara falls of Vietnam and is the border of China and Vietnam. The 4th largest waterfall in the world.
One of my stops for a little rest while on the bike.
Exploring Mount Mau Son.