Vietnam like a Local: On Motorcycle
By Jessica Taryn
Myths and Mountains has devised the perfect way to get to know Vietnam; motorcycling across the Ho Chi Minh Trail, from Hanoi to Saigon on brand new Russian made Minsk bikes.
“There are certain great roads in history and the Ho Chi Minh trail is one of them. Motorcycle enthusiasts get to ride the entire length of the trail, which had never been done before we did it,” said Dr. Antonia Neubauer, President of Myths and Mountains,
based in Nevada.
Motorcycle travel will take place on new roads and highways, dirt and gravel roads, through towns, and hill tribe villages. “This is not a trip for beginners,” said Neubauer, “you will have to be comfortable spending an average of 100 miles a day sitting on a motorcycle, not to mention dodging water buffalo and chickens along the way.”
Former Soldier is Guide
Tour guide Le Van Cuong actually participated in the war and devotes much of the trip to making the land come alive for the visitors. He even takes the group to visit the family who took him in when he was a wounded soldier. Le Van Cuong makes sure
that the tourists get to visit areas of Vietnam that are largely unseen by Westerners. He will share his most intimate stories, while pointing out meaningful places along the trail.
The tour will spend a day at the Halong Bay, also known as the “Bay of the Landing Dragon,” where they will see intriguing limestone islets and odd-shaped rock sculptures. They will then have the opportunity to host small paddle houseboats through caves and lagoons that welcome the rare visitor.This is a perfect experience for people who are fascinated with Vietnam, and want to learn more about the country. “Most tour companies do not visit a lot of these places. They are not easy to get access to, and they are certainly not tourist towns. This would not be the trip for someone who stays only at five-star hotels, but it is a trip for people who want to see the countryside and really understand the people.”
Other stops will include everywhere from the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh to the Chinese fishing town-Hoi An, to the hill retreat of Dalat: ‘The City of Love’.
“Dalat is a favorite holiday resort for the Vietnamese as well as the French. With evergreen forests, waterfalls, beautiful lakes, the country’s best flower gardens, and delicious fresh produce, Dalat has always provided a welcome respite from the heat of the lowlands. You can spend the day visiting the highlights of Dalat — its gardens, cathedral, waterfalls, market, Valley of Love, convent, university and key pagodas,” said Neubauer.
Tube Houses and Parisian Buildings
The tour will also be stopping to enjoy elephant rides and passing through parts of the country that allow the travelers to experience a range of Vietnamese architecture from old temples, tube houses, neo-Parisian buildings, and new modern hotels and offices.
“One of my favorite spots would be the area around Kon Tum. The Banar tribe build incredible homes on stilts with thatched roofs and huge communal houses called Rangs. There is also an orphanage there run by French nuns that housed war orphans in the old days, and now houses abandoned children. It is not a typical tourist stop, but it is fascinating,” Neubauer said.
Travelers visit the homes of artists to sip tea and discuss their work; they will join the locals in their morning Tai Chi exercises, and visit many different hill tribes in their villages where there are more than 30 different tribes, all with their own traditional dress and customs.
Khe Sanh Song
“The tribes are very unique. They are so warm and friendly,” Neubauer said. Another of Neubauer’s favorite stops is a base at Khe Sanh Song, which was an outpost that General Westmoreland set up in western Vietnam where the Vietnamese had defeated the Mongols in ancient times.
Some of the most historical places the tour will stop along the trail will include the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh in the village of Kim Lien, Cu Chi Tunnels, one of the few remaining monuments to the Vietnam War and the Truong Son National Cemetery, which is Vietnam ’s version of the American Arlington National Cemetery.
“It had the worst weather in all of Vietnam, yet this is where he chose to make a stand. The Vietnamese lost about 10,000 men there and the Americans lost about 500. It was located on the Laos border to secure Highway 9. I never understood why we wanted that base so badly, which is why it has always interested me. From a military standpoint, it is the most interesting stop on the trip,” she said.
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