There are always destinations that one would like to visit but sometimes they just remain a dream. Vietnam was one such place for me. I have always wanted to do a solo bike ride across the country but I never thought that it would ever materialise into a concrete plan. But in December 2019, I packed my bags and boarded a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. I just felt it was the right time to fulfill my dream. I was afraid of what lay ahead simply because I had never attempted such a journey on my own before but I fought my fears and began to plan the logistics of my ride instead. I bought a XXX bike along with waterproof clothing and motorcycle gear and then set off on a trip that would cover the entire length of the country.
Over the period of one month, I drove across 16 cities and clocked a total of XXX Km, before ending my journey in Hanoi. I witnessed torrential rain, severe humidity, corrupt cops, broken roads, generous locals and some of the world's most beautiful coast lines as I drove from the north to the south of Vietnam. Some of the highlights of my trip included the beautiful city of Dalat, the Hindu temples of Nha Trang, the pagodas of Quang Ngai, the imperial city of Hoi-an, paradise caves at Phongna National Park and the golden bridge of Danang. What really struck me was the passion with which the people preserved their heritage and past. One could get a sense of the Vietnamese culture simply by walking down a road or crowded market. There is also an inherent respect for nature everywhere you go.
I had decided from the start itself that I wanted to experience the local food and culture, and so to avoid tourist traps, I opted for couch surfing. In every city and house I stayed at the generosity and warmth of my hosts was overwhelming. Despite years of struggle and hardship, today, Vietnam is one of the most positive countries in the world. There is an air of calm and happiness everywhere you go. The people have fun and work hard at the same time. It is impossible not to fall in love with the country and the people.
When I began this journey in Vietnam, it was to be a bike ride and exploration of a country. But as I rode my bike through wild forests, steep passes and gritty beaches, I realised it was equally an exploration of myself. When you are riding alone, all that you have with you are your mind, the wind, the road and the engine. For me, it was meditative and it allowed me to hear my own thoughts for a change. I realised then that I wanted to travel more and had been holding myself back for a few years. In reality, my soul is that of a solo traveller. In vietnam, the experiences I had--from getting lost in a forest to walking into a haunted house--reshaped my understanding of the world, people, and ultimately, who I am.