How we got our motorcycles
Let’s be honest – we couldn’t wait for it since a long time. Being independent, drive wherever we want, feel the wind in our hairs. Thinking about cruising through Vietnam on our own bikes was so exciting that we skipped visiting Cambodia and jumped to Vietnam right from Laos. First plan was to find a couchsurfing host in a random city out of the touristic crowd and ask them to look with us for a fair-priced bike. The first part of the plan went relatively smooth, the second – not really. The locals did not understand our desire of having the old-school Hondas rather than comfy scooters and language bearer was too big. Having realized that we won’t drive out of Pleiku at our dreamed bikes we jumped into a night bus right to Hanoi. Again, the locals did not understand why we want to sit in a bus for 24 hours instead of taking a 2-hours flight. Sometimes we find it hard to explain that for us a 40 euros different is A LOT of money with an actual value and that we do not have as much as the people here think. Anyways, the day and night in a bus passed by and as it usually is in Asia – we were dropped off in the least convenient place at the least convenient time. We had started to look for the bikes few days earlier and we already had one to see in the morning. In order to kill some hours (it was only 5 am when we got to Hanoi) we walked around, looked for a bus to the downtown, rejected 50 taxis offers, eat breakfast etc. Finally, around 9 am. we managed to see our first potential bikes. Unfortunately, they were not as good as we thought and definitely not worth their price. Our initial plan for a day was to find the bikes and drive out of Hanoi before the evening. Again, we realized that our assumptions were way too optimistic and we found the cheapest hotel to crash for a night. We spend the rest of a day searching online and walking around. We were hoping to find a real gem – good condition, rather new, not too pricey and from an honest person. And we actually did it. Red Honda Win Detech 120 cc from 2016 year became our own vehicle! We decided that the second bike we’ll just rent as that option was tempting for it’s convenience and we coudn’t find anything as good as we wanted.
Our plan was to go north as it is known for it’s amazing landscapes (and we love natural beauty!). The one thing was yet to do – teach Natalia how to drive a motorcycle. The lesson was short and simple: here is the clutch, that’s how you shift, go! Sounds easy but the lesson was performed on a crowded, asian street. So here I was – first time on a bike, having to look for the hundreds of people around me. One way to the end of the street, turn around and repeat. My teacher was chilling at a bench nearby when I was struggling how to stay alive without killing anyone. After 15 minutes he judged that I’m ready and took me back to the rental place. Few papers to fill and I was given a blue Honda 101 cc which will stay with me for the next month!
Roadtrip Day 1 – Hanoi to Nghia Lo
We left early in the morning in order to avoid the Hanoi’s traffic. It didn’t take long until we realized that 7am. is already way too late for that. Therefore, we took our time, grabbed breakfast and drove to a place where we could buy a proper helmet. Asian standard is a nut-shell, plastic protector which in case of accident breaks faster than a skull. That’s why we drove to the other side of the city in order to find a good, full-face helmet for me (Steffen bought one the day before during my driving ‘lesson’). That went smooth and we were ready to go!
The first day on the bike is the worst – wrist were sore from using the clutch, butt was in pain and legs were begging to be straightened. Yet we managed to drive 200 km through the Vietnamese countryside. The main landscape consists of the vibrant, green, rice fields. It’s hard to drive straight when the views around are so amazing. Luckily, we were focused enough to get to our first destination without any issues.
We stopped for a lunch in a village located more-less in the middle of our way. As there was no menu, the only way to communicate and order some food was to step into the kitchen and point to what we want. That worked well and we got some really good fried tofu and sweet potato fries.
Eventually, we achieved out daily goal and happily we found a nice homestay in Nghia Lo. And you know what’s the best of that day? Apparently I am doing great and I love driving motorcycle!