I have met too many travelers who rave about riding motorbikes through Vietnam. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to travel from North to South or vise versa. The beautiful coastline, the lush mountains, jungles, countryside and the bustling big cities are something straight out of a dream. Buying and selling bikes is affordable and easy. There are many travel companies, websites and Facebook pages with a plethora of info. You can join a group of other travelers or you can go it solo. The downfall for me joining a group is that they travel faster than I like to. They only stay a night or two at each stop and I typically like to stay 4. Riding from the South to the North alone sounded dangerous and stressful to me. I had basically given up on the idea altogether when I met Qua from Mui Ne Easy Riders.
Initially Qua proposed a two day trip, from Mui Ne to Nha Trang with a stop off for one night in Dalat. My only qualm with that plan was that I wanted to stay in Dalat for more than one night. Qua reworked a route for us that would stop us in a small city called Di Linh the first night and then we would end in Dalat the second day. This worked better with my plans and schedule. The two day trip would cost me $130 USD, which is more than double my daily budget. However, that would include my food and lodging, so it seemed worth it as an alternative for getting to see some of Vietnam via motorbike.
Qua picked me up early in the AM. It wasn’t raining then but we expected rain along the way. He had brought large heavy duty bags to wrap my backpacks in so they wouldn’t get wet. This had been a major concern of mine because of my computer and excessive electronics. He assured me I had nothing to worry about and let’s be real, he does this for a living. It definitely wasn’t his first rodeo. He had a large motorcycle, not just a motorbike, and it fit both our things, as well as us, quite nicely. He had several tie straps to hold our things down. He was fully equipped, which eased any concerns I might have had.
We stopped a few times on our way out of Mui Ne. First stop was in a small fishing village where he dropped me off and let me go snap a few pics while he waited with the bike. I was really overwhelmed by the busyness of the fishing harbor, and mostly the smell. I snapped a few shots and hurried back to the bike. Our second stop was at the red sand dunes that Mui Ne is most famous for. We parked the bike and headed up the dunes to get some photos. I was feeling really nervous about leaving my backpack which had my passport, money and computer, basically my whole life. Qua was a gem and carried my backpack with my life in it, on his back, all the way up the dunes. When we got back to the bike I took my money and passport out and put it in my little backpack that I was carrying on my back with my phone and go pro. Not sure why I didn’t do this to begin with. We wrapped my bag back up, strapped it back on the bike and I had to remind myself that a computer can be replaced. Although, then you guys would be without my lovely bedtime stories at night.
Our next stop was the white sand dunes. Also famous to Mui Ne and much like the red sand dunes. Except for the obvious that they are white sand, as well as much bigger. I told Qua that we didn’t have to ride all the way to the dunes. I didn’t want to stray far from the bike and I wasn’t hugely interested in the dunes. We have dunes back home and I was too hot to want to wander under the beating sun on scalding sand. I’ll pass thank you! We stopped along the street where there was a clearing and the dunes could be seen. It was getting seriously hot and I just wanted to ride to get some sort of breeze.
We continued to ride for the rest of the morning stopping several times along the way. Thank god for the stopping because riding on motorbikes long distances can really start to hurt your butt. I’m constantly shocked, with all that junk in my trunk, I would think it would work as a little cushion. But it does not, and my ass hurt the majority of the time. I kept shifting my weight around but that offered little relief. I knew this would be the only bad part about a long ride like this. We stopped for beautiful scenery, fruit and vegetable crops, rice paper factory, dams and in a minority village. Qua was full of information and was able to answer any questions I had. He’s a very pleasant person to travel with because he’s funny and good natured. He’s always happy and light hearted. He’s a fantastically safe driver and I never once felt endangered or unsafe. It was amazing because I was truly carefree. I felt so unrestricted with nothing on my mind besides trying to take in all the beauty. It’s the most free I have felt on my trip because I didn’t have to take care of any detail and I had someone else to look after me for once. I let my mind be completely empty in hopes to seer the scenery and experience in my mind and soul.
A little past noon we stopped in a small village to get some lunch. We just pulled off the side of the road and stopped at what I assume was someone’s home. Qua asked what I wanted and of course I said whatever. Because let’s be honest, you guys know that I would eat anything they put in front of me. There was an adorable, overly energetic small boy who I wanted desperately to play with, but he wasn’t having it. When we had pulled up and got off the bike he was there taking a piss right on the ground making a little waterfall with his weaner, swinging it around, not a care in the world. Boys. When the sweet young girl dropped off our food they made the young boy go inside the house because he was being a bit much, so then I resorted to playing with the dogs. Qua spoke to the family in Vietnamese, I spoke in all smiles. After our delicious lunch of chicken, rice and veggies we said our goodbyes and hit the road again.
The ride in the afternoon was truly breathtaking. We drove through the seriously lush mountains and jungle and were rewarded with amazing views. I was shocked at how much coffee grows in this region. Miles and miles of plantations for as far as the eye can see. The windy roads up were thrilling because you never knew what kind of view the next bend would produce. In the late afternoon is when we hit our first rain. I was actually shocked that we had such a beautiful day, up to this point. Qua was prepared and had rain jerseys for us both to wear. We stopped at a small coffee shop on the ledge of a hill over looking several miles of coffee. When we finished our coffees, dressed in our rain suits, we get back on the road. We didn’t have to go far to Di Linh, which was good, because it didn’t stop raining for the rest of the day.
Di Linh probably has some things worth seeing but we didn’t do any sight seeing there. We checked into our hotel and showered. Qua went and bought us a few beers, which were much deserved after a long ride like that. We sat and drank our beers and played around on Instagram. As you all know, I’m quite new to Instagram and still trying to learn how I can make my business blogging grow with its help. But I’m still quite the novice. Qua is also learning and we had a roaring good time making ridiculous videos with goofy filters and trying out different features. After we finished our beers it was time to get some food.
He took me to a fantastic BBQ restaurant. I’ve never been to a restaurant like this. The only thing I can compare it to is hot pot, where you have a little burner stove top and you order whatever food you want to cook in your hot pot. Just like that, only it’s a BBQ not a burner stove. The table had its own little BBQ built into the table top and a cute little old man brought over hot stone coals in a cauldron and placed them into the hole in our table and put a grate on top. Each table comes equipped with its own chimney for ventilation. Qua went to the buffet counter and brought back all kinds of skewered meat, seafood and vegetables. He was a fantastic grill master and made sure I ate more than was necessary. We enjoyed another beer and he taught me “yo” which is “cheers” in Vietnamese. After dinner we stopped for a cup of coffee before heading back to the hotel to call it a night.
The next morning it was still raining, which I was afraid of. But rain or shine, we ride. We got a bahn mi at a little roadside stall and then stopped for coffee while we ate breakfast. After we ate we geared back up, strapped our bags back on the bike and rode off into the rain. Even with the rain I still enjoyed the ride. I know how shocked you are because of my distaste for rain. Maybe it was my carefree attitude, my lightened spirit, or the good company, but I never felt put out or disappointed by the rain that day. We stopped to walk through a pepper farm and Qua told me about the growing process and I munched on some pepper that stuck with my taste buds all day. We also stopped along the road next to some coffee plants and he explained the process of the bean.
That day we saw 2 gorgeous waterfalls. The first one is called Poungour waterfall and was huge in width. It was in a beautiful canyon that you walk down into. There were quite a few people, so clean photography wasn’t easy. However, I was able to capture a few shots that don’t have strangers lurking in them. I mostly loved the gardens and flowers around this area. There was also a small pond with a strange structure in the middle that might be a house, who knows. The second falls we stopped at are called elephant falls and were billowing. So much water and so massive. You can climb down to the bottom of the falls but we only went about half way. It was very wet and I wasn’t really feeling it. The walk down was through massive rock boulders and was quite slippery. There is only room for one person to cross in parts, which made for a lot of waiting on slower people. In better weather conditions, I’m sure this waterfall is truly stunning.
Next we stopped at a weasel farm. In these parts of Vietnam they use weasels to eat coffee berries and then they poop out the coffee beans. It’s some of the most expensive and well sought out coffee in the world. Yep, you read that right. While Qua is explaining this process, I’m hardly listening, because I’m way too focused on the weasels. I was talking to them and feeling heart broken that they were in cages. Across the street from the weasel farm is the cricket farm, which is a delicacy here. Remember I ate a cricket in Bangkok? Well I did. There were millions of them, it was insane. We then stopped at a silk factory where I was amazed and stunned by the silk process. They take the silk worm cocoon and wash them and extract the silk and then put it onto large spools to sell. Lastly we stopped at a temple that had amazing wood carvings that blew my mind. Apparently there is also a giant Buddha at this temple but I was really uninterested in it, so we skipped that. My phone filled up on storage before I left Elephant falls, so no pictures for you here. Here’s some more of the falls though. You’re welcome.
Our final stop was at a beautiful coffee shop selling the famous weasel poop. Whoops did I write that? Oh well. I of course, tried the weasel coffee but maybe I just don’t have a refined taste because I couldn’t tell the difference. This coffee shop was huge and over looked coffee fields and was a gorgeous setting. It looked like the kind of place people get married. We sipped our final coffee together and headed into Dalat.
Driving into Dalat is something out of a movie. Because of the elevation and climate Dalat grows some of the most beautiful flowers and the best vegetables and there are green houses galore. Driving down out of the hills offers beautiful views of the city. The layers of French colonial buildings and the funky color schemes they boast are post card worthy. Qua dropped me right at the door of my guesthouse. I thanked him for such a fantastic adventure and gave him a huge hug. I knew I would probably never see him again but I know I have made a lifetime friend. If I have it my way, which I almost always do, then I’ll meet back up with Qua on another adventure.
Feeling seriously exhausted from my two days of travel, I didn’t want to do much more than shower and lie down. I was greeted by 2 of the sweetest humans that run the guesthouse I would be staying in. They gave me hot tea and showed me around as well as let me know that they would be serving family dinner later that night. I showered and laid down for a nap realizing that I still didn’t have to think for the rest of the day. Tomorrow I would get back into plan mode because I was quite excited for the little town of Dalat.
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