After spending our Christmas in the beautiful town of Hoi An, we took a short journey to the next city of Da Nang. It didn’t feel like a city that many tourists took the time to visit, but we were keen on seeing two famous bridges. The first was the Dragon Bridge, we took a lovely walk along the river, lit up by so many multi-coloured lights to the bridge. Walked over the bridge and back again. Annoyingly we weren’t there at the weekend when apparently it breathes fire for ten minutes. We didn’t end up seeing the other bridge, the Hand Bridge in Ba Na Hills, that we had put on our list before we had even started travelling. However our main reason to stop of in Da Nang was to hire a moped to drive the famous Hai Van Pass to Hue!
We had arranged a hire with Motorvina, who actually transported our large luggage for us in their own van to our next destination. And we even had helmets that fitted snug on our heads that wouldn’t fall back every time it got windy! Every other helmet we have had you have to adjust every ten minutes or so. The journey for us took about two and a half hours, including us stopping off regularly to take pictures of the beautiful but misty scenery. We had to dig out our ponchos to keep ourselves and our bags dry, and I ended up looking like a tiny blue turtle with a massive helmet head! Unfortunately, when we were stopped off the side of the road we witnessed a bike crashing around the corner behind us. Thankfully they just had a few scrapes, but scarily the ditch their bike went into was littered with parts of previous bikes that had become victim to the slippery roads.
From then on for the rest of our time in Vietnam we wore the same hoodie and jeans every day. It had started in Hue when we were wandering around the old citadel in the pouring rain. When we arrived in Phong Nha it had gotten even colder! We were both wearing two tshirts, a hoodie and a rain jacket and still were both freezing driving along on the moped! Even in our room we had to wrap up at night, whilst the room had air con, they didn’t cater for a cold climate, so no heating! Despite the temperature we ventured out to some of the famous caves, but definitely not the ones you had to swim in! I even felt brave enough for Jack to give me a lesson on driving the moped! We found a quiet bit of road and I started off going slowly in a straight line, which was fine but scary. The main problem I had was trying to keep the thing standing up! I had pulled over and the weight went on to one of my legs more than the other and I couldn’t get the weight back up again so I slowly had to lower it down to the ground for Jack to lift it back up. My little weak legs aren’t built for motorbikes. I also wasn’t very good at turning the bike, so seeing as most moped hire shops don’t offer stabilisers I don’t think I’ll be attempting it again anytime soon unless my legs grow another couple of inches!
After arriving in Ninh Binh both Jack and I were hit with one of the worst colds we had ever had! So we spent the first two days stuck in bed only venturing out when our tummies were rumbling. Thankfully we managed to get on the bike and went on a rowing boat tour in Trang An. We were taken through caves that were so low you had to duck down to not get smacked in the head. The tour was about three hours long and I was pretty amazed at how strong the lady rowing us must have been. Jack even joined in with some rowing, although only when we had the opportunity to overtake some other boats!
We had decided against doing a Halong Bay overnight tour, and instead spent two nights on Cat Ba Island, the biggest island in the Halong Bay area. The numerous viewpoints at Cannon Fort were more than enough to experience Halong Bay, there was so much to see in every direction, I could have happily spent hours there just looking out to the islands.
Our last stop in Vietnam of course had to be Hanoi, and whilst we only had two nights there I think we covered pretty much most of the things to do there, bar the pagodas. I thought we had sussed crossing the road in Vietnam, but in Hanoi I felt like I had to run across it every time. In comparison to Ho Chi Minh city I felt the bikes drove so much faster and instead of weaving around you would just drive straight and you would have to stop for them. Jack had to pull me off the road a couple of times!
I think Vietnam has been my favourite country so far, it is so different to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. I would love to go back in the summer when we can enjoy the North a little more. Even though we had a whole month there I would have loved to spend more time in certain places, there were so many destinations we went to that we couldn’t spend as much time in each place. Although looking back there were a few cities that weren’t worth the visit. We were thinking about going from Hue to Hanoi entirely on the moped, but looking at the weather forecast we decided against it, maybe another time!