Hue to Hoi An-Recreating Top Gear on the Hai Van Pass

We woke the morning that we were to leave Hue, Alex and I had breakfast and awaited our scooters to arrive. We knew the day ahead of us would be both fun and exhausting. shortly after, three scooters arrived ( one for Alex and me to share, and one each for Constantine and Maren). We waved our big bags away as they were piled onto the scooters, all knowing that we wouldn’t see them again until we arrived in Hoi An (hoping they arrived at least).

 

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Our Noble Bike

 

The four of us looked at the route from Hue to Hoi an and noticed that a good portion (if we followed google maps) would be highway which would both be boring and frankly a little dangerous (big trucks and scooters don’t mix well). North of Hue we saw a route that went up for about 15-20 KM then sharply headed south towards Hoi An but it followed small villages and fishing towns, we had a direction and we all got ready to set off.

The feeling of getting onto a bike with little less than half your worldly possessions, after seeing the rest of your stuff  be whisked away was an odd feeling, to say the least, however Alex and I managed to fit one of our bags under the seat so only she would need to actively wear a bag. All comfortable, our little crew set off on the beginning of our day’s adventure. If you have been following this blog or our journey, you will know this will not be the first time I have driven a bike, however it had been well over a month so needless to say I was apprehensive. The bike “roared” to life, Alex tightened her grip and we started to inch away.  Within a few minutes, I had started to understand the flow and visual madness of Vietnamese traffic. As scooters, we are third lowest in terms of traffic importance (meaning who has right of way), scooter beats push bike and people walking and that’s pretty much it. Cars started to pull in front of you without warning, come onto your side of the road (AKA wrong side for them) and expect you to move. This can be difficult when your options for moving are either crash into the truck to your left or the side of the road on your right.

It took about 10 minutes of near misses and me constantly saying “fucking hell” under my breath before I felt comfortable. I don’t want to discourage people who went to ride scooters in Vietnam, as I enjoyed it immensely. I just want to ensure you that for the first couple of Km, you will undergo an adjustment period.

Our first stop of the ride (about 30 mins- 45 mins) was to a beach we had read was beautiful, however when we arrived (after avoiding the goat stood in the middle of the road) we found a mixture of fog and the wind that left us covered in sand and with no view. Rather than grit our teeth and go for a swim, the four of us go back out our bikes and kept pushing forward.

Our ride took us amongst the small local roads and through villages, showing us a real side of Vietnam. I can say with some certainty that this part of the journey was some of my favourite riding, regardless of having to weave in and out of potholes.

We continued to weave around holes, and enjoy the views as we arrived on the highway. We needed to take this highway in order to reach the Hai Van Pass (the main reason to ride between Hue and Hoi An. However before we went too far we wanted to find a place to stop, and we settled on the “elephant springs”.

The elephant springs are a series of mostly man-made waterfalls and pools surrounded by platforms and seating areas. The sun was beating down as we arrived (eventually as we initially drove straight past it) and the water looked inviting. We enjoyed our swim, watching the Chinese people slide down rocks on pieces of foam. The elephant springs are called such due to a rock that has been carved into the rough shape of an elephant… its ummmm kitch to say the least.

Vietnam 006 (35 of 36)Vietnam 006 (34 of 36)

After about an hour and a half of relaxing and playing (not losing the GoPro this time) we felt that it about time to keep heading on. We dried ourselves and walked back to our bikes, at this point we also all felt our stomachs starting to growl. Lunch was in order!

 

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Didn’t lose the Gopro this time!

 

A little further down the highway we found a small restaurant on the side of the road to get some food, the four of us all the same thing (as it was the only option) of a spicy noodle soup (again big surprise in Vietnam) as a group, we all gave a big thumbs up to the food. 8/10 would eat again.

Back on the road, we started reaching out destination.  The Hai Van Pass!!!! For those who don’t know, the Hai Van pass is a stretch of coastal road that was made most famous for being part of the Top Gear Special of Vietnam. The road itself is a windy mountainous road that goes up and down, lending itself to fantastic views of into the ocean.

We arrived at the bottom of the pass, we looked up the mountain and we see… fog. oh dear. The pass is known for two things, amazing views and the fog and clouds that stop you seeing them. oh well. the view was still impressive and the ride was fun, however, some of the magic was lost. When we arrived at the top, the buses of tour groups convinced us to not stop and just head down the other side of the mountain.

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The ride down was fun and we were still treated to amazing views however like any great day of travelling the ride was more about the journey as a whole rather than for one view. We arrived into Hoi An in the evening (stopping along the way to visit a beach and get some coffee in Danang), exhausted from driving I looked forward to getting into bed.

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The next step was getting out bags… this should be easy right…

 

right…?

 

David

 

 

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