The Long and Winding Road

I have just returned to Hanoi at the conclusion of my last great Vietnamese adventure, a return to the northernmost province Ha Giang to complete a 500 kilometer motorbike loop through the most stunning landscapes this planet has to offer. In the wake of five days and four nights on the open roads, far flung in the north where the road ascends through the sky, I have less than 72 hours left in this incredible country.

Before I get too sappy, I’ll briefly recount this past weeks adventure to Ha Giang. Joined again (somehow) on this trip by friends from home, this time it was a great friend Casey Winslett from Tulane who made the trek to Nam, joined by a fellow Green Wave Cooper Pillot, whom I didn’t know super well in college but have gotten to know in the wildernesses of Vietnam (he also came to Pu Luong last month when Farm was in town).  We were joined by a great friend who I’ve made in Hanoi, Kody Batchelor from California. I met him in June and we were fast friends, and this trip served as a cap on his time in Vietnam as well, as he is leaving back to the USA tomorrow. 

Ha Giang is something not of this world.  The dramatic landscapes cannot be captured in pictures or words.  For five days, the four of us embarked on an epic motorbike journey through sunny skies and foggy rains.  We rode around 500 kilometers in total over about 20 hours across the five days, gaining and losing thousands of meters in elevation as we traversed the mountainous north.  I had been to this place in April with my parents, but we had been driven around in a car.  To see it in it’s entirety via motorbike made the whole thing feel a brand new experience.  To be able to conquer the loop with some great friends made the whole thing all the more memorable.  I even learned and mastered a semi-automatic motorbike on this trip.  It is far more thrilling than an automatic, but I’ll stick to my little Nouvo scooter in Hanoi, and still look forward with excitement to the clicking of seatbelts when I return to the states.  I don’t think any words I could write would adequately convey the beauty of Ha Giang. Perhaps some pictures will do it at least a small amount of justice…

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Ha Giang Bikers Club at the “North Pole”, Lung Cu.  The second ridge is China.
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We were trying to figure out how far away the horizon was.  Casey guessed 700 miles.  A Google search offered no definitive answers, but based on the info we estimated around 10-14 miles.
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One of the several fantastic Homestay meals we ate on our voyage

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The Youth of Northern Vietnam doing an impeccable “Roll Wave”
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We spent about an hour and a half one of the days driving alongside this river in what was probably my favorite day of driving I’ve ever done.  I will miss driving motorbikes across the Vietnamese countryside. 

I have just returned to Hanoi at the conclusion of my last great Vietnamese adventure, a return to the northernmost province Ha Giang to complete a 450 kilometer motorbike loop through the most stunning landscapes this planet has to offer. In the wake of five days and four nights on the open roads, far flung in the north where the road ascends through the sky, I have about 72 hours left in this incredible country.

Before I get too sappy, I’ll briefly recount this past weeks adventure to Ha Giang. Joined again (somehow) on this trip by friends from home, this time it was a great friend Casey Winslett from Tulane who made the trek to Nam, joined by a fellow Green Wave Cooper Pillot, whom I didn’t know super well in college but have gotten to know in the wildernesses of Vietnam.  We were joined by a great friend who I’ve made in Hanoi, Kody Batchelor from California. I met him in June and we were fast friends, and this trip served as a cap on his time in Vietnam as well, as he is leaving

Vietnam has been home to me for 45 weeks now (roughly, had a week trip to Cambodia and a couple other trips out of the country). I honestly can’t say at the beginning whether I thought I’d ever make it this far. My “plan”, if you could even call it that (a more apt term would probably be “goal”) was to spend a year abroad. All told, 45 weeks in Nam plus the 5 weeks of adventure to come, I’m gonna round up and say mission accomplished.

I have made no secret in this blog how difficult, at times, living in Vietnam has been. In a way , the trip to Ha Giang was somewhat a

Vietnam has been home to me for 45 weeks now (roughly, had a week trip to Cambodia and a couple other trips out of the country). I honestly can’t say at the beginning whether I thought I’d ever make it this far. My “plan”, if you could even call it that (a more apt term would probably be “goal”) was to spend a year abroad. All told, 45 weeks in Nam plus the 5 weeks of adventure to come, I’m gonna round up and say mission accomplished.

I have made no secret in this blog how difficult, at times, living in Vietnam has been.  I have enjoyed an emotional and physical distance from readers at home which has allowed me to be more open than I ever thought I could.  I think I have found a strong sense of voice while documenting this incredible adventure abroad. 

In Ha Giang, Casey asked me what I am going to miss most about living in Vietnam.  It was a fantastic question and one I have not pondered much yet.  My initial response was, of course, “bun cha”.  The more I think about it, however, the more I realize how much I’m going to miss the sense of adventure, whether the day to day adventure of living in Hanoi or the constant promise of once in a lifetime trips on the horizon.  When my parents came in April, I knew that in early June Cailin would arrive for a magical trip down Vietnam.  By the time Cailin showed up, four of the eventual seven friends who were to come in August had already booked flights.  By the time Margot left in mid-September, Farm and Casey had both booked flights, and now the entire last five weeks of my journey offer incredible people joining me in unbelievable places.  It’s going to be hard to get super excited and look forward to a three day weekend after this year. 

So though I am excited beyond measure to return home, to see my friends and family and dogs and to eat my bodyweight in American treats I’ve been so deprived of out here, it is with a sense of knowing this incredible adventure and all the memories it has provided me is coming to an end.  But I cannot wallow for it being over.  Every story has an ending.  The story of my incredible, year long journey abroad is coming to an end soon, and it is up to me to make the ending as epic as possible – an ending worthy of an adventure this epic.

 

2 thoughts on “The Long and Winding Road

  1. 700 miles… just seeing that part now…. -______- ! “casey, that would be like seeing chicago from new york” 🙂 miss you and this trip already thatch!!

    Like

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