The “Top Gear Dream” – Part 6: The Hai Van Pass and Hoi An
After weathering the storm in Hue, we set off to the ancient city of Hoi An. Standing between Hue and Hoi An is the Hai Van Pass, a 21km long mountain pass that we were told not to miss. But before we could head up the Hai Van Pass we had a long ride on crowded roads ahead of us. What had been one of our most anticipated rides, quickly turned into one of the more stressful days on the road as we were moving at a much slower pace than we had anticipated. One of the ‘Sons of Vietnam’ who had been a passenger on the back of another bike had recently acquired her own bike in Hue and it was a tough day to learn the Vietnamese roads. She ended up crashing after over correcting when a truck edged her off the road. Thankfully neither herself or the bike were badly damaged.
As we took a break and sat down for dinner we had to decide if we should find a place to stay or continue on over the Hai Van Pass. We decided to push forward and were rewarded by a beautiful sunset as our scooters struggled to climb up to the top. This was certainly a highlight of the entire ride as the views were absolutely incredible. To make things even better we had the luxury of having the roads relatively traffic free as there is a by pass tunnel for all of the trucks. After making it to the top we rolled down the otherside, only keeping our bikes on so that our headlights would stay on. At the bottom of the pass was the city of Da Nang where we opted to stop in as it was getting quite dark.
We left Da Nang the following morning but not before going back up the Hai Van Pass in the wee hours of the morning to eat breakfast at the top and take in the views in better light. After a leisurely 30km ride we rolled into Hoi An, a picturesque ancient city located along the Thu Bon River. Renowned for not only its beauty, Hoi An is also the unofficial tailoring capital of Vietnam. It seemed that every other shop was filled with colourful clothing and had salespeople offering ‘free shirt’ deals to lure you in. Well I got lured in alright, I ended up getting several articles of clothing made, including a few silk shirts inspired by the Top Gear Episode.
Unfortunately, the weather turned foul shortly after arriving so having a few new outfits made was the highlight of Hoi An. It actually rained so much that we were awoken at 6 a.m. because there was water coming through the front door of our hotel and was turning the lobby into what resembled a foul swimming pool. By the time we realised we needed to act the streets were so flooded that we had to push our bikes through the hotel and out the back and push them through a foot of water to find higher ground to park them on. Many of the luxury hotels had boats arriving at the front doors to take their guests and their things to higher ground. This would have been nice because it seemed that when the streets flood everyone takes advantage of the flowing water and dumps their garbage into the streets to be carried away. It was really too bad that we got so much rain as I was really excited to get out and take pictures. Hoi An and the surrounding beaches look incredibly beautiful when the sun is shining. At least I got to walk away with some incredibly stylish and comfortable outfits.