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Published: March 26th 2013
Vietnam: Hoi An - Dalat
Having bumped into Westerners left right and centre since touching down in Vietnam we decided to throw caution to the wind and get off the well trodden tourist trail to discover what was billed as the 'real' Vietnam. We were looking for a dose of adventure mixed with some authentic culture and a little adrenaline thrown in for good measure, so we decided to hit the road on motorbikes...
We hooked up with the 'Easy Riders' who whisked us off on the back of their bikes into the stunning central highlands. We went all out with a 6 day trip covering dense jungle up winding roads, deforested hills and farmland with our fantastic guides Thanh and Kim. Easing us into this new experience from the start and calming our nerves, they guided us through the history of the country, what the future looks like and through the 'interesting' and varied culinary traditions.
Vietnam has constantly been trying to gain an element of independence having always felt exploited by other countries from the Chinese and French colonialism to what they viewed as American Imperialism. The country and the people continue to feel the effects
of the Vietnam War as land-mines still take people's lives regularly and the poisons in the ground in many areas, from the 'Agent Orange' gases that were used, are thought to take another 140 years to recover. The Vietnamese have shown great resilience and determination in the face of the atrocities of war and have utilised what they can to help themselves and the land to heal. Agriculture is booming from tapioca and pineapple farms to rubber and glue plantations. We visited so many small businesses and home factories contributing to Vietnam's status as a world leading exporter from incense making to silk production. The progress has been impressive but you can see the effect on the changing landscape as deforestation spreads further and further into the jungle to enable people to make a living for themselves.
I have never felt as fussy or prudish as I did in Vietnam. When it comes to food we are normally open to trying all sorts of new dishes but there were a number of occasions where I couldn't bring myself to be quite as authentic as we were expected to be! As the week went on we felt more inclined to
try and branch out as our guides had told us all about their favourite foods of snake and rat and we didn't want to deprive them. We couldn't bring ourselves to venture into that territory as we refused to eat a cute little turtle flapping round in its shell and big burly toads jumping at us. Although eventually, after some cajoling, we did succumb to some interesting culinary delights but I don't think we'll be repeating them! The food was certainly fresh from being alive in front of you to in your belly in a matter of minutes.
Needless to say the people were so welcoming and friendly and we had such a fantastic time learning about their culture and country. We were so blown away by the variety of what we did that we decided to branch out into video for this blog and made a video diary of our adventure. It's not for the faint hearted as it is a hardcore 19 min feature of Charlie and, I and it is probably the cheesiest thing you will ever see but it does give a flavour of some of the many things we did. Enjoy!
Easy Riders Video Blog special.... If you're having problems viewing the video please click on the link below or visit https://vimeo.com/62191264
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