Oot and aboot, havin’ a scoot
Being neither profound nor eloquent, “Holy sh*t” was all I could hear myself saying. Echoed back to me by my helmet visor over the sound of my bike’s engine being pushed near its limits. Rounding the bend on the coastal road, suddenly the view opened up as the sunny afternoon shone down on a breathtaking view of fishing boats and islands dotting the blue water of the bay.
Nearly two days ago in Hoi An, our group had had a bit of a debate about whether Hannah and I would join Shawna and Jonny on their cross-Vietnam scooter-bike ride for the next few days. The alternative being we’d skip passed the next stop and meet them in Nha Trang, as this particular destination can’t really be reached by transit.
Originally the plan was that Hannah and I would travel between cities using the complicated network of buses and trains across Vietnam while the other two went by bike. The decision for this change of plan was ultimately made because there had been reports of bus drivers in this section crashing more often due to a high prevalence of cocaine taking. We felt that at least on a motorbike we controlled most of our own destiny and that we probably shouldn’t tell our parents or partners until we were done.
I believe the old adage is when presented with two choices, take the road less travelled. That adage was written for the exact moment we rounded the bend overlooking Vung Ro Bay. Although in this case, the adage could have gone “If presented with a choice involving cocaine taking bus drivers, take the other one”. Vietnam is a rare travel destination in today’s world. It’s not yet had the tourist avalanche of some of its counterparts in the area like Thailand and Cambodia. That being said, infrastructure improvements and a patch-work network of rail and buses make it accessible if you have the patience.
We followed the road a bit further down through the next town and onto the little beach resort we’d booked for the night. We checked in and, desperate for a swim to wash off the dirt from the road and a respite from the heat, we wandered down to the beach. For the second time in an hour, my jaw hit the ground. If this beach had been anywhere in Europe, you wouldn’t have been able to find a place to sit.
While popular with Vietnamese tourists in the summer, in winter months the small tourist industry of the Vung Ro Bay area is nearly non-existent. Our resort sat in the middle of an inlet. Kilometres of sandy beach stretching in either direction and book-ended with small coast cliffs that hide the mystery of what the next turn in the road might uncover. Despite it being February, it was nearly 30 degrees every day. Given that we hailed from Canada and the UK, where rain and sleet awaited us on our returns, we were quite content with the weather.
We shared the resort with a handful of Vietnamese holidaymakers who largely kept to themselves. Except for some absolutely ear-wrenching renditions of Vietnamese-dubbed 80’s love ballads on the karaoke machine that got wheeled out in the evenings. As we only had one evening before heading out again, we took solace in our little piece of paradise that was earned by taking the leap and heading out on an adventure.
We carried on for another few days onwards to some other spectacular views along the coast and up into the mountains to Da Lat. Stopping there for a day, eventually onto Ho Chi Minh City and home. They were all beautiful, but I’d be lying if another moment quite took my breath away like that one.
Travel is constantly about balancing safety over adventure. This is why the feeling of missing out can often be strong as can the fear of taking a risk. That is unless the choice for adventure pays off. Nothing beats being oot and aboot, havin’ a scoot on a new route.
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