The Highlands, and small town stops to Hoi An, Vietnam

The epic four day ride through the highlands to Hoi An didn’t start out too well. A looong day that included two bails and several kilometres of loose gravel and construction up a steep mountain got us to Dalat. By the time we got to the top I had road rash, some nasty bruises that stayed with me for weeks and an utterly sore body. With an intimidating 700 km left to the next big city I was ready to sell my bike and hop on the sleeper train for a few days. Luckily I persevered because the next few days were the best we’ve had in Vietnam. We had great roads (for the most part), traveled over several mountain passes with the most incredible views, and through some valleys filled with the most vibrant green rice paddies. We also stopped in several small towns for a lunch break and sometimes overnight which were … interesting.

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Dalat – with a very strong French influence. This is where many Vietnamese come for their honeymoon.
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A much quieter and more peaceful existence here.
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No matter where you are in Vietnam there is ALWAYS kids riding their bikes to and from school.
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The great thing about hammocks is they can be strung up anywhere.
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One night we found accommodations right across from this waterfall. Amazing!
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At the top of a mountain pass.
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When we weren’t riding through the mountains we were coasting through vibrant green rice paddies.

The small towns we stop in rarely see tourists and are usually incredible welcoming. Although we lack a common language we get by on gestures, smiling and looking at our Vietnamese road map. Buuut, there is also a lot of alcohol to be had at these little pit stops as well. We are almost always offered several shots of rice wine (and that stuff is strong!) which is incredibly hard to refuse without feeling like you’re insulting them. We often play a little game of charades where we imitate falling off our motorbikes drunk and eventually convince them. Here are a few photos from those small town stops.

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One minute you’re taking photos with peoples kids, the next minute you’re friends on facebook.
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The kids and adults alike love looking at the roadmap with us and usually the whole neighbourhood crowds around the table to get a look. The atlas is extremely detailed (thank god!) and they can usually find their town on the map.
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The people in this restaurant were particularly insistent on sharing their drinks.

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Vietnamese soup called pho was pretty much our breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of the time it’s a beef broth with noodles, beef, bean sprouts, mint and other fresh leafy vegetables. It was hit and miss for us but when it was good it was REALLY good.

After many pit stops we eventually made it to Hoi An. Most people we met said this was their favourite place but I was a little disappointed. Maybe it was just over-hyped for me. It was quite expensive in comparison to where we had just come from and I found the sites to be mediocre. However it was fun to get custom clothes and shoes made; something Hoi An is known for.

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First fitting for Jesse’s three piece suit.
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Trying on my new boots and very asian skirt.

After blowing our budget in Hoi An we took the High Van Pass to Hue. This mountain pass has an old war bunker that the French and eventually the Americans occupied during the war. The roads were amazing and riding through the thick fog was surreal.

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At the top of High Van Pass, exploring the old war bunker in the fog.
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