1973. An English man, Ted Simon, (http://www.jupitalia.com/) set out to ride around the world on his Triumph motorcycle. When he had finished this journey he wrote about it in a book, Jupiter's Travels. Around 1979 I bought this book and read it. I was riding a Yamaha 125 at the time. This book gave me the dream of one day riding overseas. Maybe even around the world. This dream has never left me.
Lets roll forward over 30 years. I have ridden up and down the eastern side of Australia lots. The dream was still deep within me. I read books by people who have ridden overseas. Joined forums for like minded riders. Went to the Aussie Horizons Unlimited meeting (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/) last year and met with riders and pillions who are either on a round would trip or have ridden overseas. The dream is closer to becoming real for me.
Last year Jan and I decided to do plan a trip travel overseas. I suggested Vietnam. We talked about riding from Hanoi to Sapa up near the Chinese border. We decided to wait till we arrived in Vietnam before committing to this type of trip. We wanted see what the traffic is like for ourselves.
April 8th 2010 we arrive in Hanoi. The traffic is overwhelming. It is so chaotic for my western mind and riding style or so I think. Plus they drive not just on their side of the road but anywhere on the road. Am I up for this? Can I make my dream come true?
We take a bus trip to and from Ha Long Bay. This is good not just for the cruise we did on a Junk around the thousands of islands but it gives me a chance to study the traffic and get used to being on what is the wrong side of the road for me.
Back in Hanoi we book a bike through (http://www.flamingotravel.com.vn/). They are recommended to us by some ex-pat friends that live in Hanoi. We are going to ride to Cuc Phoung National Park. That's the plan till the weather turns nasty with heavy rain and thunderstorms. We don't have our riding gear with us and I am not willing at this stage to risk Jan's and my safety. So we postpone the ride. Maybe my dream will not come true. Have I really got the guts to do this?
We head north to the mountains by night train to Sapa. The weather there is not good either. Pea soup fog rolls in. We are at cloud level in our hotel and its is a grey out. We spend three days there.
We have done a walk through some villages Been to the markets. Fought off the native village women that hound you to “Buy from me....”.
We have had a great time. Last day there we find out that the hotel rents bikes. The traffic here is very light. This would be perfect for getting out biking legs wet as it were. So we hire a Honda 110 for an hour.
We head out of town on the tiny Honda 2 up. The road we chose winds its way up to the Silver Waterfall and a very high mountain pass.
I am so overwhelmed with the utter amazement that I am living my dream at long last. Having that little bike under me, the road twisting up the mountain, Jan on the back and the beauty of Vietnam laid out below us. I am glad I had the wind in my eyes as I had tears of shear joy welling up in my eyes. So I could blame the wind for the tears. In a small way I am now Ted Simon.
The views once we got above the clouds are breath taking. We went up past the Silver Water Fall. Locals waved to us as we rode past. Two big westerns on a tiny Honda must have made them laugh. My red beard in the breeze. We pass two other westerns on a scooter. The grins on their faces match ours. Maybe they too are living out a dream?!
We only did a return trip of 30kms but I don't care. I have at long last done it...... I have caught my dream at long last.
Once back in Hanoi we hired a Yamaha 125 and did a 300km round trip to Cuc Phoung. This ride report soon.