One Perfect Day: Living my Top Gear Fantasy.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, lang co beach

I feel like I’ve let you all down.

I recently checked a vital option off my List for Awesome Living: motorbiking scootering the length part of Highway One in Vietnam. Sure, it’s not exactly the Top Gear fantasy, but it’s all I could do with the metric fudgetons of luggage I currently drag around behind me. I also got to do (arguably) the prettiest stretch of this 2,300-kilometre road: the 128km chunk between Hue — Vietnam’s old imperial capital — and Hoi An — an immensely attractive port town.

More importantly, I had a hell of a lot of fun in the process. It proved to be one of the better days of my life. Rarely have I felt so completely unhindered and alive. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.

However

I got a little carried away and a) didn’t take as many photos as I could have, and b) didn’t spend enough time perfecting the ones I got. As a result of it being a blindingly bright, sunny day, most of my snaps were rendered unusable — so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say this drive is really freaking beautiful and awesome and you must drop everything and go do it NOW.

The stretch from Hue to Hoi An is a near-perfect driving road: winding, rolling, and eternally surrounded by jaw-dropping views of the ocean. While I feared for my life in the first and last hours due to nearly being sandwiched by lorries, most times I had the road completely to myself. This was an invitation to be, as Wash would say, a leaf on the wind. I ducked and wove and wound like thread through a needle; I dodged potholes like a kid jumping over pretend hot coals in her bedroom carpet. I was, to quote Richard Hammond, a driving god.

Well, I was in my own head, anyway.

But really, I was honing my newfound skill on a beautiful road, chatting to locals I met while parked by Lang Co beach, and feeling the sun on my skin for the first time in ages (which later resulted in some wicked sunburn — oops), while Jimi Hendrix played on a continuous loop in my head.

Life doesn’t get much better than that.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an

I was nearly halfway through the ride before I remembered to start taking photos. 46km from Da Nang, the third-biggest city in Vietnam.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, road, goats

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, lang co beach

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, lang co beach

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, lang co beach, train

You’ll have to take my shitty photos for it, but trust me…Lang Co beach is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, new friends

My new Vietnamese friends: the guy on the left controls the train passing through (I made him wear his work cap), and the other sells stuff to tourists and collects coins. I had a rather lengthy chat to the latter and gave him some of my spare change for his collection.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, road, mountains

Aah…the long and winding road.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, mountains, road

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, mountains, ruins

Some ruined old buildings on top of a mountain near Da Nang. Really not sure why they were there, but travellers were certainly pretty content taking photos of them in between warding off pushy touts.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, rice fields, temple

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, traffic

This is Da Nang: I spent a good hour getting totally lost here. I know, I know…I got lost on a straight road. But in my defence, the road sort of curved a few times and went through some roundabouts. In my sheer confusion, I stopped for a tasty feed of com dia.

It was getting into the afternoon by this point, but I was three-quarters through my drive. A kindly old man pulled up beside me on his motorbike and guided me towards Hoi An.

scootering, top gear, vietnam, da nang, hue, hoi an, sunset

The finish line. Hello, Hoi An.

Have you lived the Top Gear fantasy? It’s brilliant, isn’t it? Let’s brag about the experience in the comments.

4 Comments

  • Cayleigh-May says:

    The photos are great so if they are a poor imitation I look forward to getting on the road myself! I’m deliberating how much of the Top Gear fantasy to indulge in – I like to think I’m a bicycle kind of traveller, but I’m not too fit and, well, motorbike travel is just so damn exhilarating.
    Looks like another thing to help me fall in love with Vietnam…

    • Lauren says:

      Oh yeah. It was by far the highlight of my time in the country – just killer scenery and so thrilling. Would have loved to do the whole length! Do it – even a small part of it 😀

  • Tiffany says:

    Nooo you fell for the coin scam haha 😉 Everyone around Vietnam and Cambodia “collects coins”, which then they simply go trade for their local currency. Of course they are always missing the US Dollar and Euro coins, because all the tourists are of course from Somalia. I got asked like once a day. But such beautiful photos, I really missed out on that fun adventure when I took the rather boring bus.

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