Adventure of a Lifetime – The Great SE Asia Motorbike Tour

Posted on Posted in Motor-Bike Asia, Southeast Asia, Travel Blogs, Vietnam
Adventure of a Lifetime - The Great SE Asia Motorbike Tour

Today begins The Great SE Asia Motorbike Tour.  We wanted to spend the next 2-3 months traveling all over asia in 100cc motorbikes.  We are told from many that this is crazy and even impossible.  We had some custom racks made to hold our bags from a local bike shop and feel that all of our preparations were sufficient to keep us on the road.  We packed some 2-way radios, extra gas can, tire repair kit, first aid kits and more things than we can list.  We are beyond excited to get going on this adventure!

 

 

Loading The Motorbikes

Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia
Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia
Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia
Asia Motorbike Tour
Asia Motorbike Tour

Packing Up The Bikes For Our Motorbike Tour Of Southeast Asia

We needed to pack up the custom racks we had made to hold our luggage to our motorbikes.  This was the first time we tried this. We woke up early to get a good jump on the day. It took about an hour to get two packs and a bag on one bike and two day bags (school backpacks) on the other with Buddha in his basket. It took quite a while to figure out how to bind the bags to the racks in a way that worked. A lot of trial and error, and at one point I had to remove the bags and do it over again. So leaving by 9am wasn't a reality. Once we got the bags secured Scott and Ashley drove by and said their last goodbyes to us and took our picture all ready for our departure. It was nice to see them again before leaving.

 

 

Taking a Break in the Mountains of Vietnam

Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia
Asia Motorbike Tour
Asia Motorbike Tour

The Great SE Asia Motorbike Tour Begins

We took off closer to 11am for Mai Chau which was about 5 hours away. We maneuvered our way through the heart of Hanoi on a Sunday through the smog and traffic until we made it out-of-town about an hour later. We stopped and took a break and continued on. It really wasn't the most scenic nor interesting ride, but the roads were fairly good in places and others not so much, and the traffic was minimal... Finally! It was warm and sunny, and after going another hour or so, we hit the mountains. Absolutely gorgeous! Reminiscent of Halong Bay on land. Large limestone karsts dotted the landscape with green valleys and streams. We were averaging about 40-50 km/h and feeling good. About every hour we stopped to rest our behinds and stretch our legs and at about 2:30-3pm we stopped at a small town that finally wasn't a village.

 

 

These Guys Loved Buddha

Asia Motorbike Tour

Getting Hungry On The Road

We stopped at a Bia Hoi which means Beer Hall, and decided it was finally time to eat since we hadn't eaten since 8am. We immediately had a small crowd of people congregating around our bikes as we got Buddha out to feed him. Two guys in particular who spoke to us fluently in Vietnamese (like we knew what they were saying) and were really enthralled with Buddha. They fed him out of their hand and after the show was over we decided to get something to eat.

I guess all the western style eating we did in Hanoi was a mistake. We should have spent more time understanding what Vietnamese dishes were called without the standard Hanoi menus with pictures. We didn't know what to order. I pointed to a sign on the billboard that appeared to be sweet and sour pork and they brought us some fermented pork wrapped in banana leaves. We thought this was the standard appetizer that we have seen before at the Bia Hoi we went to for Ashley's birthday, and waited until 3:30pm before we realized that the pork in leaves was our meal. So with substantial hunger we decided to move on and head out so we could make it to Mai Chau by dark.

 

 

On the Way to Mai Chau

Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia
Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia

Heading To Mai Chau

We climbed a large mountain for what seemed like an hour before stopping near the summit to take a break. It was getting cold and darker and we headed for our last leg of our long hungry day.

Well, it took longer than expected and the GPS was showing a turn off that didn't exist. So after continuing down the other side of the mountain, we finally found our turnoff and headed 5 km for Mai Chau. By this time, it was very dark, and my front headlight wasn't working well. I think a candle or flashlight duct taped to my head would have been more effective. We stopped to mess with my headlight and a guy who "represented" a hotel, agreed to accompany us down the road to Mai Chau.

 

 

Mai Chau

Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia

Finding a Place To Stay

I stopped at a bike shop once in this small town of one main road and got my light fixed, and our guide then took us to what we thought was going to be a hotel. It wasn't, it was a homestay. Which is a traditional Vietnamese stilted house on rice paddies. Mosquito infested, net bed on the floor with other travelers and a shared bathroom which is undoubtably a hole in the floor. We declined kindly and went back into town with this guy "accompanying" us to a guesthouse which is like a hotel. Actually a guesthouse is a large house of master bedrooms.

We found one and the guy went to talk to the owner and told us 450,000 vnd.(Vietnamese Dong) Which is about 20 something dollars. I realized this guy was trying to get paid to take us places and make a commission, and I told him we didn't need nor want his help. And upon talking to the owner myself, found that it was only 400,000 VND. We took it! It was an ok room, and we unpacked in the dark and after settling in went on the search for food.

 

 

Our Guesthouse in Mai Chau

Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia

Finding a Place To Stay

I stopped at a bike shop once in this small town of one main road and got my light fixed, and our guide then took us to what we thought was going to be a hotel. It wasn't, it was a homestay. Which is a traditional Vietnamese stilted house on rice paddies. Mosquito infested, net bed on the floor with other travelers and a shared bathroom which is undoubtably a hole in the floor. We declined kindly and went back into town with this guy "accompanying" us to a guesthouse which is like a hotel. Actually a guesthouse is a large house of master bedrooms.

We found one and the guy went to talk to the owner and told us 450,000 vnd.(Vietnamese Dong) Which is about 20 something dollars. I realized this guy was trying to get paid to take us places and make a commission, and I told him we didn't need nor want his help. And upon talking to the owner myself, found that it was only 400,000 VND. We took it! It was an ok room, and we unpacked in the dark and after settling in went on the search for food.

 

 

Views on the Ride from the Day

Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia
Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia
Motorbike Tour of Southeast Asia

Out On The Town and Reflection

We found a great place a few blocks away and again couldn't tell them what we wanted. The cook brought us back to the kitchen and showed us some beef, chicken and some other mystery meat. We chose the beef dish. It was a stir fry that tasted better than anything we have eaten in years... it could have been plain rice and soy sauce and we would have felt like that too. Compared to the fermented pork lunch, a burlap bag and some A1 Steak sauce would have been better.  It was good however and we were finally happy at 8pm to get something in our stomach after a long day of riding.  

Change In Perspective

We reflected on our first day of riding and how beautiful the scenery was and the feeling of freedom on the bikes.  We can get used to this!  Needless to say we slept like babies in the room that night.  Our change of perspective was both literally and figuratively.   What an awesome way to see the countryside.  The unsettling feeling that "anything can happen" makes life and our surroundings seem more vibrant and intense.  There is a feeling of adventure that neither of us have ever experienced lighting us up with a buzz never felt.  We are actually doing this crazy thing people said would be impossible.  Anything can happen!  Those three words are exciting and scary, liberating and thought-provoking.  How this tour will turn out and the problems, sights, smells and sounds we encounter are anyone's guess.   The uncertainty of it all only makes it more alluring.  We can get used to this feeling.

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