Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by Scooter – Part 2

I’m currently riding the length of Vietnam on a Scooter. Here’s Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by Scooter – Part 1 if you missed it.

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Day 6 – Hong Linh to Dong Hui – 223km
While the more direct route would have been about 50km shorter, today I wanted ride the Ho Chi Minh highway for the first time. This highway follows the Ho Chi Minh Trail used during the American War with amazing mountainous scenery. The weather remained fairly good, although I had to stop to put pack-covers on my bags when a particularly nasty cloud threatened, but nothing came of it.

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I arrived at Dong Hui and after getting settled into my hostel, took a ride around a city that had been laid waste during the war. Dong Hui is virtually a new city, as there’s little left of how it was. The city isn’t on the tourist route and the beautiful empty beaches were serene.

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Day 7 – Dong Hui to Hue – 176km
Today started out with blue skies over the ocean but began turning sour after half an hour out from Dong Hui. While it didn’t actually rain, it seriously threatened to. With heavy black clouds further inland, I decided to take a more direct route to Hue. I’m not sure which would have been the lesser of the two evils, getting rained on or riding through the constant road works every 2km. To make it worse, the roads were jammed with trucks spraying up dust and sand from the road works. Before lunch I rode through the Demilitarized Zone, crossing out of what was North Vietnam and into South Vietnam, stopping at the War Memorial Monument.

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Then as I arrived on the outskirts of Hue, I crossed another milestone, my 1000th kilometre on the road since leaving Hanoi. Later in the afternoon, I walked around the ruins of the Imperial City and at its centre, the forbidden Purple City. it was home to the ruling dynasty between 1800 and 1950, when Hue was the Vietnam’s capital.

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Day 8 – Hue Rest Day
There are many stories of motorcycles that break down regularly on this trip through Vietnam. While often cheap to repair because most Vietnamese boys over the age of 12 can fix them, it’s inconvenient. To date I’ve suffered only a flat tyre and in hopes of staving off any other issues, I got the scooter serviced. While the bike was away, I took the day off and just hung around the hostel.

Day 9 – Hue to Hoi An – 130km
Since the ride to Hoi An was to shorter than average, I decided to see more of the sights around Hue before heading on. I found the Thien Mu Temple and Pagoda a little away from the Imperial Palace and stopped for a look.

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Around Hue, there several tombs belonging to the emperors who ruled from Hue. I took some time to visit the closest one to town – Tu Duc Tomb – and was surprised at how large the area was. The location was called the Second Imperial City as the emperor used it as his ‘man cave’ to get away from affairs of home and state.

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After my visit I headed to Hoi An, but on the way disaster struck. An hour out of Hue I got a flat tyre, then only a minute away from where the puncture was repaired, the engine cut out and wouldn’t start again. The ‘mechanic’ who fixed my tyre and who didn’t speak any english informed me I needed a new carburetor. Ninety minutes and a million Dong (US$47) later I was back on the road. So much for servicing it to prevent it breaking down. I continued on, crossing the Hai Van Pass and eventually arrived in Hoi An two hours later than expected.

Day 10 – Exploring Hoi An
Like Hue, Hoi An is a popular tourist spot. After breakfast, I headed out on the bike to a location called My Son where there are the ruins of an old Hindu temple complex. Of the buildings, some have barely a column standing while others are in the process of being rebuilt.

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I then rode into Da Nang, a city north of Hoi An, to a place called the Marble Mountains. Atop the monolithic mountains is a large buddhist temple complex with plentiful adjoining caves.

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The Marble Mountains give great views along My Khe Beach, as 30 km stretch of nicknamed China Beach by the Americans during the war. It was used as both an evacuation hospital area and site for rest and recreation during the war.

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Day 11 – Hoi An Rest Day
As I had spent a lot of time on my bike around Hoi An yesterday, I decided to take the day off and just relax around Hoi An, so I did.

Vietnam Central1

In Part 3, I head south into the Vietnamese highlands.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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