The “Top Gear Dream” – Part 9: Mui Ne and HCMC (Saigon)
Coming into to Mui Ne from Dalat was another great drive and one that the rest of the ‘Sons of Vietnam’ really missed out on. After spending two days driving through the mountains it was nice to arrive back to the coastal air and sand dunes of Mui Ne. Stretched out over several kilometers along the shoreline, Mui Ne is a collection of restaurants and guesthouses that form an almost impenetrable wall to the beach. Unfortunately if you don’t have the luxury of staying in a fancy hotel on the beach front then you are left with the many options on the far side of the road which made beach access a bit difficult, although not impossible. Despite some difficulties getting access to the beach, Mui Ne was the first time in several weeks the entire collection of ‘Sons of Vietnam’ were all in the same place at the same time. Partner the good company with some good weather and Mui Ne turned out to be the perfect conclusion to our coastal time before making the final push to Ho Chi Minh City where we would inevitably have to say our goodbyes.
After several days relaxing in the son we departed on a relatively uneventful journey towards Ho Chi Minh City. As we began to get closer to HCMC the traffic began to mount and lanes began to appear until we were driving on an 8 lane freeway into the city with trucks everywhere. Unfortunately ‘Muffin’ couldn’t leave us without one last close call and we blew a rear tire sending us fishtailing with trucks everywhere. Miraculously we managed to keep it together and not wipeout in the final 10 kilometers.
As we rolled into HCMC there was a certain sense of familiarity as the roads became once again flooded in the chaotic traffic we thought we had left behind in Hanoi. The only real difference was that everything was much bigger in HCMC than it was in Hanoi and possibly even more crazy. Having so many people piled into one city, space was efficiently utilized which resulted in countless tiny alleyways and side streets. Despite these narrow passageways that could hardly fit two abreast, bikes still continued to push their way through, past the food and clothing stalls set up along the sides.
After a crazy journey that took us over 1700 kilometers and 6 weeks, the ‘Sons of Vietnam’ spent the majority of our time in HCMC relaxing, trying to sell our dilapidated bikes and in some people’s cases, getting a picture of their bike tattooed onto their arm. It was an absolutely amazing trip that turned out to be far beyond what I could have imagined it to be. I think it will be hard to travel by bus ever again after such an awesome adventure.