The Great Red Spider Vietnam Motorcycle Tour with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA - Part 3
Wednesday January 27th
Well we left Kon Tum this morning for another 280 KM or so ride and now we have arrived in Buon Ma Thuot, from now on referred to BMT. We left KT and hit the road. The sun was shining brightly and very hot all day. The ride was good, but long, especially since we took a couple wrong turns and ended up adding about 30KM’s to our trip, which may not seem like much but is nearly an hour. This city is the capital of the Dac Lac province and the site of the last battle of the Vietnam war in 1975…..which was long after the Americans left.
This region is well known for its coffee and in fact Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporter in the world behind Brazil. And…..Vietnam has the largest per capital consumption of coffee in the world. This is hard to imagine after the coffee we have been having each morning. We passed through rolling hills the entire time with numerous coffee plantations. They are beautiful large green bushes with many white flowers. They put off a very pleasant aroma that fills the air. Driving along the roads in this area, we go by countless homes with the green coffee beans spread out on the front “driveway”, if you will, drying. Some are very fresh and green, some are red and some are clearly nearly dried and more brown in color.
We also passed through many kilometers of rubber trees and there are pix of them in this section of the update. Seems like a very antiquated process but, nonetheless, there were literally thousands of trees for many KM’s dripping slowly the rubber from the trees into small pans attached to the trees.
We have all decided that the North of Vietnam is has a lot more going for it than that part of the south we have seen.
• Roads much better
• Much cleaner
• Better scenery
That said, we did have a good ride and stopped in Pleiku, which Bruce Wingman was stationed for a small amount of time during the war. We ended the day by riding on the most dusty, traffic jammed road we have yet to be on, which was under construction. It was a mass of cars, people, dust, trucks, buses and us of course. When we got the hotel we each went to rooms and when we turned on the showers, the black dirt just ran off our bodies.
Oh, and the latest 31 Card Game and who got the single update is in from yesterday and today. Bruce now has 4 wins after a face off with Kenny for the pot last night. And, Bruce also won the draw for the single room tonight meaning he would have it for the THIRD time. But being the good guy he is, he donated it to Dave Morocco Dryden.
Tomorrow is our last day of riding. We are headed for Nha Trang, which is directly east of here about 200 KM’s and supposedly has the most beautiful beaches in all of Asia. We plan to leave early so we can get there for an early afternoon lunch and enjoy the place. We plan a going away party Thursday night in Nha Trang for our bike guide Kenny, our driver Luc and our mechanic Qin who will not be going on with us on Friday to Ho Chi Minh City.
Tomorrow is our last day of riding. On the one hand it seems like we just started the trip and its sad to be at the end of the ride. On the other hand, I think we are all happy to get back to civilization, a soft clean bed, a hard and hot shower and the little things that make travel more enjoyable. We are all looking forward to getting to Nha Trang and also onward to HCMC.
Thursday January 28th
Today we leave BMT for Nha Trang, the beautiful resort coastal city for the final push of our Hanoi to Nha Trang, 1,800 KM Journey. Five years ago or more I read a book entitled “Up Country.” It was the story of a guy who rode a motor bike from Hanoi to Saigon investigating a murder that occurred during the Vietnam war. I promised myself that I would one day do a motorbike ride in the same fashion. After coming to Vietnam many time for business, this was the experience of a lifetime, a way to check off something in my Bucket List. A sense of accomplishment and happiness for sure.
As we pulled out of BMT this morning, everyone was aware that it was the last day of our long ride together. Strangers other than Steve, we became good friends, had great laughs and enjoyed a great experience together. The ride from BMT was across the high plains of Vietnam, the Highlands as they call them. About an hour into the ride, we rode up into the last set of mountains we would see before descending to the sea and the port of Nha Trang.
Dave Dryden reminded us that this road was the site of the largest exodus of people in the Vietnam war. When Buôn Ma Thu?t fell in the final battle in 1975, thousands, if not millions of South Vietnamese fled down the road we rode on today. Fleeing for their lives from the North Vietnamese army.
The ride through the mountains was beautiful. A reminder of all the gorgeous mountains, passes and beauty that we have seen throughout our trip. As we descended down the steep hills we began to get a whiff of sea air every now and then and we know our journey was coming to a close.
Then as we rounded a bend and a steep decline, there it was, the ocean and the most beautiful scene we could have possibly imagined. We rode hard and reached the last 10 KM’s of road that ran right along the seacoast. What a great last ride that was. The wind in our face, the cool air, the smell of the sea. We really soaked it up.
Later we had our farewell lunch with Kenny, Loc and Qin our guide, driver and mechanic. We toasted some beers and sent them on their way back to Hanoi. The bikers then went to a beach bar and reflected on the trip, our new friendships and the exciting next few days we have to enjoy Ho Chi Minh City. Its been a great trip, with great guys and memory of one sort or another for each of us.
Enjoy our last biking day pix and videos below, and be on the look out for our updates from Ho Chi Minh City in the next couple of days.
Friday and Saturday January 29th, 30th Ho Chi Minh City
We left Nha Trang on Friday late morning for a short hour flight to HCMC. Upon arrival we were very surprised to have a special greeting, arranged by the AB importer and distributor, Walter Gannon. He sent his large Bud Bus and Bud Angels as they call them to greet us at the airport and give us VIP travel for the 45 minute ride to our hotel.
We chilled out in the afternoon and mostly just walked around downtown HCMC. We are staying at the Caravelle Hotel, in the center of the city. There is lots of activity here. Then in the evening, Walter arranged for a reception in our honor at the Park Hyatt Hotel out on a veranda. It was USA-like BBQ and he invited all his management to come and join us. He also invited the US Ambassador to come and he did. He is in a group shot with us standing next to Bruce. After a fun evening at the reception, we returned to the hotel for a good night sleep.
Today on Saturday we had a tour of several places. The War Museum which was a horrible place where we saw the harm and torture that all sides in the conflict performed. We visited the Presidential Palace, most known for the scene when the VC tanks burst through the gates and took over South Vietnam, officially ending the conflict. We visited the Notre Dame Cathedral which is a replica of the one in France. We also saw the famous Post Office with its fabulous design.
We ended the tour with a lunch at a local restaurant which was excellent and had an old guy playing piano throughout. Then we had a farewell coffee with Dave Dryden who is flying out of HCMC back to London this evening. The rest of the crew will be hosted tonight for dinner by Amy Wu, former AB China and now the General Manager for the Circle K convenience business for Vietnam.
We depart the hotel at 4:00am Sunday morning to catch our departing flight, which leaves at 6:00am local time to Hong Kong and then on to Chicago. So this will be the final update for the Red Spider Motorcycle Tour. We hope everyone enjoyed following us on our exciting adventure. We had a great time, but everyone is ready to come home and see family and friends again.