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Published: August 4th 2012
When I was eating dinner in Hue with a Japanese guy I had met in Hanoi, we started talking with a Vietnamese guy that was sitting at the table next to ours. His name was Quy and he was friendly, telling us a lot about the country and asking us questions about our countries. We eventually told him we were both going to Hoi An the day after next and he asked how we were going to travel there. When we said bus, he shook his head and said, that was the boring way to go. He said we should go by motorbike. I had actually heard of this already. There is a group of guys called the Easyrider's that take foreigners across the scenic pass between the cities of Hue and Hoi An or the other way. I had considered doing it but was dissuaded by the cost ($50 verse $3 for the bus).
When this guy brought it up again I was intrigued but also a little skeptical when he said he operated a business that provided these rides and service. He told us that he and his business partner used to drive for the easyriders
First stop at fishing village
Just a few years ago most of the fisherman actually lived on these boats with their families. Since the government has given them money to build houses but some still live on the boats
but didn't like some of their business practices and left to start their own independent business a year ago. He was not pushy or actually trying to sell us it, but just wanted to show us what it was like. He was really excited to show us on his new iPad that he bought four days ago (Apple fans always get bonus points with me) and he showed us his website with lots of pictures, the Facebook pages of some of his favorite clients and their pictures, and also reviews of him and his business partner on trip advisor. He could tell I was interested (the japanese guy had already bought his bus ticket)and he gave me his card and said he would do it for $45 if I wanted to do it.
So I went back to my hostel and did some more research. I thought it looked like a great adventure and I felt Quy was legitimate. So I emailed him and arranged for him to pick me up at 8 am at my hostel. He came five minutes before 8 with his business partner and said that Ti (his business partner who I had
read about in the reviews) was going to take me and asked if that was ok. I didn't have a problem with it especially since they didn't want any money up front. They strapped my bag on the back in a plastic bag in case of rain, gave me helmet, I jumped on the back and we were off.
The first thing I really appreciated about Ti was that he was not a crazy driver. He went a safe speed and didn't pull any typical Vietnamese driving moves. If you drove straight through it would take about 4 hours. But 4 fours on the back of a bike would be terrible. Instead they break up the journey with lots of stops. The first was at a small fishing village where we explained the hardships they face for very little money and the support they get from the government. We also stopped at a really neat natural water park called the Elephant waterfalls (the pictures explain why) where we stopped to swim. Me and a few other motorbike passengers were the only foreigners there with a bunch of Vietnamese families whose kids are out of school for the
summer. Then it was time to cross over the pass made famous by the movie Top Gear and that offers the views the bus doesn't. The bus goes by a tunnel 10 km long through the mountain while on the motorbike we hug the ocean going up and over the mountain. The views were well worth it and a few stops along the way up proved great picture opportunities. A little farther put us in DaNang, the third largest city in Vietnam. Ti said it has only grown in the last 10 years and evidence of continued building is everywhere. This is where we had lunch and after lunch I hiked up Marble Mountain, famous for its pagodas, caves and of course marble which explains the immense number of marble carvers along the bottom of the mountain. At last we drove another 40 minutes and we were in Hoi An at my hostel by late afternoon.
I could have not made a better choice than to make that trip on the back of a motorbike. Talking with Ti was very eye opening to the Vietnamese life and the fact that everything was included (except lunch) made the
whole journey very easy and fun. Many other people along the way doing the same as me also made me feel a little more secure knowing I was not all alone the road. I am grateful that Quy encouraged me to consider it and know it was well worth the money. One of my favorite experiences thus far...
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