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.
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.
I was nearly halfway through the ride before I remembered to start taking photos. 46km from Da Nang, the third-biggest city in Vietnam.
You’ll have to take my shitty photos for it, but trust me…Lang Co beach is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.
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.
Aah…the long and winding road.
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.
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.
The finish line. Hello, Hoi An.