I love the moment that I start the bike in the morning and pull out onto the road, diving into the traffic and the day ahead. It always feels good to get back on the road knowing that the only thing I really know is that I don’t know what’s ahead.

Vietnam on a motorbike by Simon Jones

The clouds of yesterday were still loitering like bored teenagers, moody and aloof they hung around the foothills as if planning their next move. I watched them as I rode north, and hoped they might disperse and find somewhere else to wreak their mischief.

It wasn’t long before a small road that wound its way up a hill beckoned to me. Initially I rode past it, deciding that it was too soon to make a detour, but I changed my mind and turned the bike around to go back to the narrow climbing road.

Vietnam on a motorbike by Simon Jones

I’m glad I did. As slowly climbed the hill listening to a fitting soundtrack on my iPod I was surrounded by hundreds of butterflies. Getting off my motorbike to stand among them I felt like a child as I stood there watching these delicate colorful creatures swirl around my head as if they were as curious about me as I was about them. It was an awesome moment and I actually laughed out loud with delight.

A the top of the hill was a small Buddhist temple. I walked around it and resisted the urge to strike the massive bell that sounded awesome when I gave it a gentle knock with my hand. One of these days I just might strike one of these giant bells or gongs. They’re Buddhists, so it’s not like they would kill me for doing so, right?

Vietnam on a motorbike by Simon Jones

With the clouds gone and the open road ahead of me I slowly continued north. I would stop here and there to snap a picture or take a few gulps from my drink. I watched men carving various Gods from stone at a stonemasons, with Jesus standing just a few steps away from Buddha. Then there was carpenters shop where craftsmen were making ornate caskets for the people who would have already met whatever God they believed in.

Vietnam on a motorbike by Simon Jones

I didn’t speed along in a hurry to get anywhere. I just sat on the bike and let the road ahead come to me. I’d take a detour here and there, but mostly I just rode the bike as if I were a passenger, watching the world pass me by.

Vietnam on a motorbike by Simon Jones

Toward the end of the day I decided to take a detour that I thought would take me along a coast road. I must have zigged when I should have zagged because it wasn’t long until I was lost. Eventually I came to a dead-end, a small harbour where the fishermen looked at me like the stranger I clearly was.

Being lost didn’t rattle me though. A local told me “If you get lost, don’t worry. All roads lead to Hanoi.” All roads apart from this dead-end perhaps? Either way, I wasn’t concerned. Instead I stopped from some Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) then just got back on the bike and followed the road back to the highway and eventually a hotel for the night.

Vietnam on a motorbike by Simon Jones

I appreciate that for you the reader, there aren’t any really great stories coming from this trip of mine. It’s a road going north through a landscape that doesn’t really change that much. The story is the road, and I’m not really sure how to make that sound as interesting as it is. Maybe you just have to be on the bike with me so that you to could tap me on the shoulder, point at some back-road and say, “What’s down that road?”

Slow Road to Hanoi – Day 5
Read my tips about touring Vietnam on a motorbike