Easy Riders: Explore Vietnam from the back of a war veteran’s motorcycle!

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Starting point – Da Lat!

Vietnam is a beautiful country with a long history. It’s also the country, where I made an improvised and unusual decision, that ended being one of the best tours I’ve ever taken: a motorcycle ride through the highlands with the Easy Riders!

EASY RIDERS

When someone comes up to you and wants you to buy a trip, and tell you they have many good recommendations from travellers… we usually decline politely. But this was a little different. Two old veterans from the Vietnam War came up to us and actually convinced us that a motorcycle road trip to Nha Trang was a good idea. Remember this was back in 2003 and before TripAdvisor and mobile internet, so we had no way of checking if this was legitimate.

The guys were “Easy Riders” offering tours through the Central Highlands. Even though our trip was 14 years ago, I can see they still operate and get very high ratings on Tripadvisor.

So here’s what you can expect.

〉 The Easy Riders were quiet, but nice.

〉 They drove quite fast, but it felt safe and there wasn’t that much traffic.

〉 My driver was 50 years old and was a war veteran. Unfortunately, I didn’t get his name.

〉 I can’t remember the cost – but it was our budget for the next 14 days burnt off in 3 days! It was expensive, but it was worth every Dong!

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Back in the Yahoo days…

PRACTICALITIES ⇓

DURATION: 2 nights & 3 days! 

ROUTE: Dà Lat — Buon Ma Thout —  Nha Trang

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Notice

⋅ Make sure you get a helmet!

⋅ After the first night when they brought us to a really bad and overpriced hotel, we told them, we would find a hotel on our own the second night. They were not to happy about that (maybe they got commissions), but I was very insistent. They agreed under the condition we saw 3 hotels they had picked out first. (but a lot of our Vietnam experience was like that). In fact they gave up after the first one and we found another half price ourselves. But on their website it looks like this might have been improved.

⋅ Ask all the questions you have along the way.

⋅ Make sure you get the route you want. We had to insist on getting dropped off in Nha Trang which apparently was annoying to them.

⋅ Bring warm clothes. I had two sweaters and a jacket and was still cold.

⋅ Your ass will be soar afterwards

STOPS & SIGHTS ⇓

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Me in front of the hilled but barren landscape

What the hills beside me show is an Agent Orange site! The reason there is no trees, is that the soil is still poisonous due to the chemicals dropped by USA during the Vietnam War. The guys didn’t share that many of their personal experiences in the war, but their faces went very somber each time we discussed the war and I am pretty their memories weren’t very good. We felt a massive hostility towards USA and complaints about the treatments of veterans.

→ Local Business

The most interesting sights were the ones, that we wold not have been able to find by ourselves or let alone visit without our two guides. We visited several local manufacturers and factories and this stands out on my many journeys as something were we came a little closer to everyday life in Vietnam. This is why, it is not always best to DIY!

We saw  factories making silk, vegetables, coffee (good coffee), mushrooms tea, pepper, bricks, a granite quarry and rice fields.

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Visiting a mushroom farm

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Making rice pancakes for spring rolls

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Silk factory

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Clay pots for everything

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Turning mud into brick

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Bricks drying in the sun

→ Waterfalls

you can see several waterfalls on the trip. We stopped at Pongour Waterfall on the first day, where we climbed up on the side. I am a very bad climber and have very short legs, so it’s was an unforgettable experience to both me and my husband, who had to carry me. We also saw the 50 meters high Gia Long Waterfall in the jungle, where there was only us and some soldiers. It is about 70 km from Yok Don National Park, and there is a small lake, where you can swim. It was very cold, but really nice. Nearby you can drive to two other falls – Dray Sáp Falls and Dray  – here there were only us besides a few Vietnamese couples. There is also a small poll to dip in. But everything is probably a lot more crowded these days. Back then, they were just building the road.

You might not need to see all of the falls…

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Lunching by the fall

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Some of the falls are near jungle

Close to Da Lat is the Laughing Buddha Temple. This was also newly build, when we were there. After climbing the Elephant falls you can see this huge statue, which is not the most spectacular I have ever seen, but it does put a smile on your face.

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Laughing buddha

→ Rice Fields

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You always see women bent over in the rice fields from early morning to late evening

→ Everyday life

Driving around for 3 days, you see a lot of everyday life.

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Kids from one of the many tribes in the Central Highlands

We visited a small village Buôn Jun and saw long houses made from bamboo from local tribes near Lak Lake.

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Stopping for snacks

You can also visit the M’nong tribe.

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Not as much pets as keeping the rats away.

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Lunch – yes I am the one on the left…

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Ending point: Nha Trang – warmer, but bad weather

VIETNAM

Fall is the best time to travel and one of the best fall trips in 2017 (according to @NatGeo) is Vietnam or Viêt Nam. We went in December 2003, when we were just married and backpacking 3 months through Asia. The weather changed from 10 degrees and rain to 25 and sun, but it was generally not bathing time.

I have to admit, that Vietnam was not my favourite place. It is so beautiful, but everywhere we went, everyone tried to hassle us. For instance: We were dropped off in the middle of nowhere until we paid extra, we were charged 1000% extra for a cup of tea and someone refused to return our bags! So going on a trip with these two guys was a relief in many ways.

All in all, it was a very backpacking thing to do and at that time: off-the-grid. And I just love riding on a motorcycle!

Have you have a different experience with Easy Riders?

Travelling in Vietnam? Avoid doing as I did in my Vietnamese adventure! When a Ha Long Bay trip became a Monkey Island prison!

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