Một, hai, ba, dzô! Part 4
Part 4: Scootin’ around Hội An
-Following our 7 day adventure in the north, we moved onto the 2nd leg of our trip. The central coastal city of Hội An. This town is known for its preserved ancient architecture and its tailors. To say its a tourist town is an understatement but nonetheless still an amazing place. Our home base was the Tribee Bana Hostel. Literally the nicest hostel any of us had stayed in. The first two days we spent wandering, eating, relaxing, and drinking. I took the opportunity to get a 3 piece cashmere wool suit and shirt tailored for a whopping $300.
-On the third day we used the Hostel to rent the local bike of choice. 3 small displacement scooters (2 hondas and a yamaha). After acquiring the scoots we headed to the beach to dip our toes in the South China Sea. Right away we were having too much fun on these things. No clutch or ground height to worry about, we zipped around traffic like we were pros. We can see why the locals choose scooters over motorcycles. It’s just easier and lighter to maneuver through Vietnamese traffic. The beach was a nice white sand and the water just right. There were traditional basket boats laying on the beach as well as a few westerners out for the morning sun. We all got our feet wet but visibility was poor due to a morning fog rolling in off the water.
-Back on the scooters, our goal being the Hải Vân Pass, we went around the main city of Da Nang. The coolest thing we saw going this way was large temple with a towering pagado and statue. Not long after that we reached the pass. Being used to these roads by now we were taken aback by the size and great condition of the road. The congestion was quite heavy with busses, and tourists on the back of local operated single cylinder cruiser motorcycles all racing for the top. We did not let that deter us. As far as we were concerned we were the fastest fuckers on two wheels and everyone was left in our dust. The scooters became our rocket ships to the top of the world conquering one twist after another.
-We neared the apex of the pass and were swallowed alive by a thick soupy fog. Giant ancient fort ruins stood like rotting sentinels in the wind and fog. Our first choice of parking was by the coffee shops known to harass all tourists senseless. They did not disappoint. We moved the scooters by the ruins and explored, losing sight of each other within a few yards of separation. After getting our fill of the eerie ruins we realized we needed to fill our stomachs. The ride down was just as thrilling, if not more. Jake went for it on his Yamaha. There were 3 riders on modern large displacement bikes, all leathered to the nine passing us on the way down. Two Kawi’s and a Super Duke, if I recall correctly. Seeing such large bikes was a pleasure as they are very rare here. Especially the Kawasaki’s.
-We ran parallel with the beach all the way into Da Nang and stopped for fried rice with seafood. I have to say this was one of the most interesting services we received for lunch. The staff hovered over us like hawks and made the paranoid android inside of me feel uncomfortable. Aside from that I thoroughly enjoyed the food.
-After lunch we continued on through Da Nang to the Marble Mountains. Rolling up to the base of the mountains caused some unneeded stress as everybody ran out demanding you park in their spots. One woman even went as far as to follow us on her scooter demanding “You park now!”. Here is the only time I lost my cool on this trip and let her know I knew we had to park. We eventually did haggle some cheap parking and made our way to the entrance to the mountains. Dodging the screams of the vendors demanding “YOU BUY NOW!”. They are pretty heavy handed in their selling tactics in this area.
-The Marble Mountains are five limestone and marble hills jutting out of the landscape like sore thumbs. Only one, Thủy Sơn, is open to tourists. Here we explored buddhist shrines, grottos, pagodas, and climbed all the way to the summit allowing us a wide panoramic view of the Da Nang area. It was well worth the hassle gauntlet we faced getting to the mountains. After the long climb down, we relaxed at the marble shop were we parked the scooters. The proprietor was a very nice woman who couldn’t believe I would waste money on my tattoos. To each their own.
-The ride back to Hội An was short so to get our money’s worth ($7) out of the scooter rental, we veered off onto the ever familiar concrete roads splitting the rice paddies. This road eventually ended and we found ourselves off road again. One last time for good measure.
-The sun was setting and it was time to return the scooters. We dropped them off and walked back to out hostel to relax before taking on the night market and all the street food it had to offer. Hội An did not let us down.
-I want to end this with my many thanks to Jake and Radke for joining me in this adventure. When I posed this trip they were both on board right away. No hesitations. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to explore and never say no to anything thrown there way was just as inspiring as the wild lands we rode through. I couldn’t have asked for two better travel partners. I think the big question to end with is, where to next boys?
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Published - Oct 9, 2010
sorry these took so long, I was really busy. The last two are of my XS650 project which goes under the knife this winter! More.