Hi everybody! Kev checking in this time. I’ll do my best to pick up where Marno left off…
From Luang Prabang we took the infamous 26hr bus ride to Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s funny looking back on this now, but it was torture at the time. The bus was overcrowded to begin with, but once the Laos men filled every nook and cranny with furniture and mysterious bundles of plants, there was hardly any space to get comfortable. Thank god for prescription-strength sleeping pills is all I have to say.
The bus drivers (must have been a team of at least 3 men) stopped just before the Vietnam border to hide all of the bundles of plants in the undercarriage of the bus. You would think they would hide this from us, but I think they just assumed that we wouldn’t be stupid enough to snitch to the border guards.
I took literally one step into Vietnam and the first thing that I saw was a young boy mercilessly beating a dog with a stick. Quite a way to enter a foreign country.
We spent a couple of nights in Hanoi before catching another bus to tour Halong Bay on an overnight boat trip. Halong Bay is considered one of the top “Natural Wonders of the World” and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Truly breath taking scenery as these mountains just randomly pop out of the ocean. We made some great friends on the boat and we played cards well into the night.
With New Years Eve fast approaching, we returned to Hanoi to meet my good friend from Kelowna, Mitch. Mitch is one of those guys that is so full of positive energy that you can feel yourself being filled up with it. Along with Mitch and his two buddies, Zack and Peter, we had the best New Years celebration ever. We entered a Beer-Olympics which we ended up winning in the last round. The prize was an all expenses paid boat trip to Halong Bay… Dammit! After the Olympics we went to the town square where a MASSIVE concert rang in the new year. Great people really made for an unforgettable experience.
Mitch, Zack, and Peter had just arrived in Hanoi after motor biking the entire length of Vietnam from Saigon to Hanoi. They were constantly encouraging us to do Vietnam the same way because they had had the best time of their lives doing it. But since I had never ridden a motorcycle EVER, we decided that the crazy Vietnam roads probably shouldn’t be the place to learn. So we caught a bus from Hanoi to Phong Nha.
We spent 2 nights in Phong Nha just exploring the national park there. We rented a scooter and drove through the most beautiful countryside to arrive at the worlds largest cave, stupidly named “Paradise Cave”. Despite the cliche name, the cave took my breath away and reminded me again how freakin tiny we all really are.
Another long, uncomfortable bus got us to Hoi An – probably my favourite Vietnamese city. Not too big, not too small, Hoi An had everything we needed at the time. Chill vibe, the friendliest locals, amazing restaurants/nightlife. We rented another lame-ass scooter, which proved to be a great way to explore Hoi An and I got my first ever custom fitted shirt for the price of a pizza back home.
Before I tell this part of the story, it is important that you know of a philosophy that Marni and I have been interested in lately. Long story short, we have been taking a closer look at the seemingly random coincidences in our life and questioning if they are actually random or even a coincidence. Once you decide to look at things through this lens, you can start to see that the universe is on your team and is conspiring to make all your dreams come true. All you have to do is recognize these big “coincidences” as the universe trying to unfold your plans for you.I would love to discuss this further at another time with anyone…
But anyways…we were scootering around Hoi An talking about how jealous we were of Mitch’s time on his motorbike right when a beautiful motorbike for sale appeared. This had to be more than a random coincidence! I knew it was my new bike the second I saw it. We negotiated a price that included a 10 minute lesson on how to actually ride the damn thing. In hindsight, we should have negotiated for a lesson taught in English. But we bought the bike and somehow got it to our hotel without getting killed. I then spent the night learning how to ride on YouTube.
Next thing I know, we are flying down the busiest highway in Vietnam, heading south to Nha Trang. The bike, especially with the weight of our big bags, took some time to figure out. But we just hugged the shoulder and laughed at the crazy situation we had gotten into again. I love to just take the first step of a crazy adventure and then refuse to quit once it’s started. We had to stay in 2 different tiny little villages along the way, which was really awesome. No one spoke English there so getting a room and dinner was a challenge, but a fun and rewarding challenge. The smaller the town, the friendlier the locals.
By the time we got to Nha Trang you would probably say that I knew how to ride a motorbike. Nha Trang is the biggest beach-resort area in Vietnam. Beautiful beach town filled to capacity with Russians. We spent a few days here just hanging out while our bike got fitted with a safer bag rack. We also spent a day at the hospital trying to get Marni’s health in check as she had developed a mysterious knee infection and rash all over her body.
Next stop, Dalat. Nha Trang to Dalat is considered by many to be the best section of road for bikers in Vietnam. It’s a crazy mountain pass that had us going 5km/hr in first gear all day but it was super epic. The road was mostly empty so it was easy to take breaks to appreciate where we were and take in the incredible scenery. It was really one of the best days of our trip yet.
From Dalat we headed to Saigon via a few more nights in random-ass towns. We were just riding until our butts were too sore to continue. Sometimes, after a long day of riding, I would question if the whole motorbike thing is a great idea. But every morning I wake up extremely excited to get at it again. From Saigon we decided we would try our luck at getting the bike into Cambodia. We had read online it’s not technically legal but that the border guards either don’t give a hoot or can be convinced of anything with a couple American dollars. Our plan was to just play it dumb and not mention our bike….but we got super lucky. As we were getting our passports stamped by customs, some local dudes discretely pushed our bike to the Cambodian side. Once stamped, we basically ran to our bike and rode off like Bonnie and Clyde. Sure we have to bribe policeman from time to time, but it’s totally worth having our baby in Cambodia with us.
We are about halfway through our time in Cambodia so I will save the Cambodia stories for another time.
To my friends and family, I love and miss you all. I think about you guys every day.
And a special shoutout to my incredible friend Matt Roberts. Matt has somehow managed to be such an amazing friend to me from across the globe all while he takes on his cancer like an Olympic boxer. Im amazed every day when I wake up to a text from Matt asking how I’m doing while he is at home taking on a battle I cannot even fathom. You’re my inspiration brother. People, send this dude all your good vibes!
Peace and love,