Rising early, I donned the brightest pineapple yellow helmet I’ve ever seen and set off the road to Trang An. Rather than taking the normal 3 hour route that charges straight down Highway 1, I opted to take the longer, more scenic route down the classic Ho Chi Minh Highway, hoping to make decent time and also see more than just the rear ends of other cars.
A spot on sunglasses tan, multiple layers of grime and 5 hours later, I finally rolled up to the Hoalu Eco Backpacker Hostel – slightly fuming over my decision.
While there were roadside peeks of buffaloes and limestone peaks, my cramped legs and sore butt were beat and my nerves shot from the insolent honking of rubble bus drivers. I had completely underestimated what 5 hours on a motorcycle in blazing heat could do to ones’ body.
Alas, a quick shower and power nap later, and my spirits were up again. Stepping out of the hostel – a new (cleaner) person, I was finally able to fully appreciate where I was. Set in the middle of rice patties, the hostel was wedged neatly in between peaks of limestone that jutted up from the ground and soared overhead. Testaments to the immovable force of nature, they have carved their way through the valley and stretched all the way to my horizon where their peaks seemed to touch the clouds.
A uneven rocky road, the one that I had putted down earlier, was the only one that led to the hostel’s doorsteps. Had it not been for the beautiful advent of technology, 3G and Google Maps, there was no way I would have found my way here.
Played motorcycle driver for 20 minutes or so.
I had stopped on the side of the road for a couple seconds to check my map when I felt a tap on my shoulder and these ladies (left photo) appeared. While there was an obvious language barrier, I could tell that they wanted a lift from their hand gestures and cheeky laughter. So off we went down the road for a mile or two until a large supermarket appeared and they clambered off, waving to me as they disappeared through the doors.
With their motorcycles parked directly in the way of the path, this enthusiastic group of bikers wouldn’t let me pass until I joined my bike with theirs, added one of them on Facebook and left with a packet of shredded meat rice crackers – Ninh Bing’s specialty snack.
^^ got a tad annoying after the 30th one
(perhaps I shouldn’t complain as I took one myself hehue)
She then gave me food and we became bffs