If I were to tell you that I explored Central Vietnam on a motorbike with an unknown man whom I have never met before in my life, you will think that I am crazy. The fact is, however, that my Da Lat Easyrider trip is one of my best travel experiences to date. Indeed, I had never met Hung, my guide, before and it took me exactly 30 minutes of conversation to jump-start this incredible journey with him. I was aimlessly walking around Da Lat town, considering my next destination in Vietnam, when a small adventure/experiential tour company office caught my eye. It was a small, simply designed office filled with motorbike paraphernalia, glowing customer reviews, and had a poster board displaying photos from their trips. The cute little cafe inside drew me in and it was by fate, that I met Hung there. One of Da Lat Easyrider’s most popular and trustworthy guide, Hung’s easy, gentle manners put me at ease and I found myself pouring out my harrowing Hanoi experiences. They just rushed out unbridled, when Hung suggested a small day trip on his motorbike.
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How I bumped into a Da Lat Easyrider
That caught my attention and as we discussed the itinerary, the possibility of exploring Central Vietnam with Da Lat Easyrider dawned on me. I told him of my decision, my budget, interests, and within half an hour had signed up for a multi-day Central Vietnam motorbike tour with Da Lat Easyrider. Hung was to get the bike and his gears ready, while I rushed back to my hotel. packed my bags, and got ready to leave Da Lat. Back in the office, we went over the route map again, talked about the places where we would stop, the kind of accommodation and meals that would be provided along with the insurance, travel gear, etc. Finally, after signing the requisite documents, we started off and thus began my most exciting Vietnam experience ever.
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What to expect from a Da Lat Easyrider trip
According to Da Lat Easyrider policy for that trip, Hung was my driving guide and tour leader. I was his pillion passenger and one to whom he had to show the beauty, culture, and customs of Central Vietnam. Hung considered himself as an ambassador for his country and it was perhaps the love for Vietnam or the passion for his job, that by the end of the tour I was hopelessly enchanted by this Southeast Asian nation. The price included a standard helmet, saddlebags, gloves & rain ponchos, daily doses of local coffee, gas, accommodation, entrance fees, and road insurance. In those days of inexperience, I still traveled with a hefty suitcase and my brown soft luggage was packed in plastic and tied securely at the back. It was all good and soon we began zipping down the green sap scented winding roads of Central Vietnam.
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The lushness of Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam is the home of many minority hill tribes and contains the natural Truong Son Mountain Range. Coffee grows there abundantly along with many vegetables and fruits and the villages hum with busy activity. There was a lot of small enterprises dotting the entire region and from mushroom cultivation, tea plantations, coffee farms, silk farms, dragonfruit orchards, brick-making kilns, rice noodle factories, to snake wine breweries, a lot was going on in Central Vietnam. As far as I remember, the journey from Da Lat to Ho Chi Minh city took 2 nights and 3 days and we stayed in rustic homestays somewhere on the road. Hung showed me many aspects of the Vietnamese minority communities lives, their cuisine, and the tour ended with an immense sense of gratitude for all the kind hospitality received by me. Today, I do not remember the exact details of the trip, except for snippets of conversation, the taste of weasel coffee and Canh Rau Khoai Lang (soup made with sweet potato leaves), and the amazing sensation of wind in my hair. The images, however, remain vivid.
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A brief insight into the local culture
I clearly remember how wide the blue cloud-free sky seemed overhead, the ruby red dragonfruits curling at the tip of their gnarly green leaves, the glistening raindrops on tea gardens, and the serene faces of the nuns who run a shelter for abused women somewhere near Ho Chi Minh city. I can also easily recollect how the smell of the air changed from piney green to slight saltiness as we neared the city and near the tea plantations it was almost of the sweetest petrichor. Many images from that trip come back to me in a tumble and among them, bell jars with preserved cobras in wine and a furry weasel sleeping in its cage in the coffee farm are most interesting. I can endlessly go on about this trip; talk in loops about my experience, and tell you how the Vietnamese believe that when the dragonflies fly close to the earth, a big storm approaching.
An unforgettable Da Lat Easyrider experience
That was one small but a very unique insight of the local Vietnamese culture shown to me by Hung and that trip was as experiential as it gets. Words do not do justice to this experience and this photo essay is dedicated to the Da Lat Easyrider and the best driving guide in the world, Hung. Next time in Vietnam, you want to do something special, look no further and choose a driving guided tour with Da Lat Easyrider. It might just be one of your best travel experiences yet.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE