The final few stops before Hanoi were nice rides but mostly stops in small cities that were completely dead due to Tet. The final 5 hour drive to Hanoi was exciting. It was only fitting that it would be pouring rain the entire ride. Fortunately I made it to my final destination and I am still alive, so I thought I would write specifically about the journey as a whole since I am still here to talk about it.
I decided to leave out most of the crazy details of this trip up until now due to the fact that I did not want my parents to be freaking out more than I’m sure they already were for the last two months. Riding a motorcycle 2400 miles from south to north Vietnam is crazy. Riding a motorcycle 2400 miles alone is borderline insane. A lot of people told me I was crazy for doing this. Some even said stupid. The locals told me I would be dead before I got to Hanoi. For some reason I was never that worried. Maybe it’s because I’m a control freak and this forces you to be in control at all times. Who knows. All I know is that along this trip I’ve seen some crazy, terrible things, and had a few bumps along the way. Sorry mom.
Traffic in Vietnam is crazy, but to be honest you are probably most safe in any city. There is so much traffic that you can’t really go that fast. Once you get on the highways and mountain roads however, all the rules get tossed out the window. There are ZERO traffic laws here. Your biggest killers are buses, trucks, and potholes. They speed, cut you off, come right at you directly in your lane passing everything, and generally don’t care what happens as long as they make it to their destination on time. I’ve been run off the road countless times due to buses and trucks. It became normal after the first week. When I say I was happy to make it to Hanoi alive, I was not joking. It’s pretty close to a miracle I made it this far with few injuries. I got side hit by an SUV that was dodging a bus that was in our lane which sent me onto the grass. Luckily I didn’t fall. I’ve seen four Vietnamese people have terrible accidents. One of which died in front of me and the others which I can only assume are not with us anymore from going head on with buses. Bikes and bodies mangled. The first accident I saw I literally had to drive through the blood of a guy laying lifeless on the ground while the truck driver told me what I assume was “get the hell out of here!” in Vietnamese. They don’t want witnesses, let alone an American one. The problem is the Vietnamese will just pass a bus around a blind curve and not even think twice about what might be coming towards them. I never do this because you will most likely get hit and it is just stupid. I did however, have one pretty bad accident that couldn’t have turned out better all things considered. It literally could have been a scene from a movie. Riding up in the mountains where there aren’t a whole lot of buses or traffic I was just having fun and driving somewhat fast around these beautiful perfect bends enjoying every minute of it. I came around a blind curve and of course there is a Vietnamese guy pulling a U-turn on a motorbike in my lane. I had about a second to either smash right into him or swerve to avoid him. I chose to avoid him because the last thing I want is to be responsible for someone else, not to mention I don’t have a motorcycle license so I would be somewhat screwed. So I swerved hit the rear brake and skidded slightly which flipped my bike and tossed me at which point I flew like a bird for a second and landed on my hands and knees. I swear while in the air I heard R. Kelly’s “I believe I can fly” playing in my head. I slid on them for about a second and then just lifted up my arms and legs which let me slide about 10 feet on my chest. Thank god for my $20 fake leather jacket because I would literally have no chest left if not for that. My glorious chest hair can only handle so much abuse. At this point my body comes to a stop and my bike comes sliding right into me wedging my foot into the straps that hold my backpacks (which were now thrown all over the road). The guy who I avoided took off immediately, while a few others stopped. I look up only to see a bus coming towards me, and look back to see my bike emptying out all it’s fuel. Wonderful… Luckily the bus stopped and the bike didn’t blow up somehow. I got up, collected my things, and went off to the side of the road to toss some iodine in my cuts and burns and collect myself for a few minutes. I couldn’t believe I made it through all that with just some bad scrapes and cuts. The best part was I now had to drive the next four hours using only my fingertips, as my hands were not in the best shape for grip. Anyways I made it 2 hours later to a pharmacy and they bandaged me up. Moral of the story is that Vietnam is insane and trust me, you do not want to visit a hospital here. Again, sorry mom. I’m sure I told you guys it was another great ride. Ha.
Aside from that there were other minor things that happened on the road. Being lost countless times in the middle of nowhere on dirt roads asking rice farmers for directions that have never seen a white person in their life. Having Google maps lead me to a road that turned into a lake. Having my engine completely destroyed by a bolt that came loose from said dirt roads and having to sleep in a mechanics shop that gladly let me sleep there and fed me. Being pulled over for “speeding” on highway one, only trying to bargain with the cop that asked for $10 when I told him “how about $5?” Bad idea. After being taken to a small police station he literally said to me “I say 10, You say 5. Now… 15 dolla!” Ok I give in.
So that’s basically it. With everything that happened I regret none of it. I did it, I made it, and I’m still here. My wounds have healed up and I’m good to go. I would do it again in a heartbeat. One thing I know for sure, it sure beats taking the bus.