Vietnam Motorcycle Diary (Day 29/32)
Distance traveled since last stop: 640km from Đồng Hới to Hanoi
My heart skipped a beat when the sparse drizzle momentarily halted. And then the sky started falling.
Dense raindrops splattered against my eyes and dripped down my chin. My outdoors pants soaked through to my cotton briefs; I cursed myself for buying “quick dry” instead of “waterproof.” I braced my motorbike against the chilly headwinds and could swear I heard Mother Nature dare us to drive any faster than 40kmph.
We spent three days driving on narrow backcountry roads to Hanoi — snaking through limestone mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, farms, and villages. Our final segment on our motorbiking journey. Each day we would clock in approx. 150km of travel and then pull into a roadside hotel to rest for the night.
While I wish I could say the drive was easy, it was not. The landscapes started off sunny and riveting but quickly transitioned to gloomy and despairing. Heavy rain and cold tested our bodies as well as our minds.
Fortunately, encounters with friendly Vietnamese townspeople brightened our spirits. One morning, a cheery-faced 12 year old boy ran over to us shouting “Hello hello!” We were eating banh mi’s at his favorite bakery for breakfast. In between bites of his sweet pizza bread, he told us he chases down every foreigner he sees to practice his English pronunciation. His whole family works in the police force, but he wants to pursue his own path.
I felt inspired by his youthful exuberance. And I saw this positive energy everywhere we rode: children waving hello to us on their bicycles, all smiles as they practice English with us, so curious and ready to connect.
We arrived at Lake Hoan Kiem in Hanoi. Hot showers awaited us. The final chapter of our journey had begun.
After forgetting to seal my dry bag, then capsizing and drowning my phone, a month in rice has sorted it! That month consisted of a lot of canoeing, my first (and scariest) outdoor bouldering sessions and a lot of fires... #yearofadventure
To have the pleasure of London as my first passport stamp is outstanding. The city itself holds much character, life, and heritage that it makes me feel so humble that I got to experience just a piece of it. Whether it was meditating with the Buddhists, riding the tube, sitting atop the double decker buses, roaming the streets lined with beautiful architecture, visiting the majestic landmarks of history, the never ending pints of delicious beer, the amazing vibes of the gay bars, or the tasty entrees and snacks. The city provided me with the opportunity to travel even more throughout Europe. Happy to have my second stamp be Amsterdam. This place was beautiful, quaint, and very progressive. Glad to say I stepped foot in the Netherlands. Special cheers (thanks) to Toby, you were a wonderful tour guide, host, and such a great friend.
I will be back for another visit you beautiful thing of a city. This is not a good bye, but a see you again. There’s so much more to explore! #london#amsterdam#herestoexploringtheworld#yearofadventure
For one of my clients, I moderate a group of family caregivers. Having been both a registered nurse and a family caregiver, I more than identify with their struggles. Caregivers are notorious for becoming so involved in caring for their loved ones that they forget about theirselves. They even begin to feel guilty if they take time to do something just for them. This is such a mistake! You cannot pour from an empty vessel! Caring for yourself is an act of love.
How do you care for yourself?
I read an article this morning encouraging women to get a work wife, I’m lucky enough to have a company full of them! Special shout out to my number one work wife @murphyslavik I’m already missing you so much!
I’m more than a little excited to let you know that I’ll be making the move to Cape Town. Yay!
This means that I have a month left in beautiful Jo’burg. If you’d like to grab a coffee, or head out on an adventure let me know!
In front of the lens : my beloved Bailey.
Vietnam Motorcycle Diary (Day 23/32)
Distance traveled since last destination: 288 km from Huế to Dong Hoi
Leaving the former imperial capital of Huế, we traced the fog-covered twists and bends of some of Asia’s oldest karst mountains with our motorbikes to arrive at the relaxed oceanfront town, Dong Hoi. Here we turned in for the night before waking up early to explore the massive cave system of Phong Nha National Park, known for containing over 300 caves including the largest one in the world.
The first cave on our agenda was Paradise Cave, the longest dry cave in Asia at 31km and only opened to the public in 2010. Walking down the stairs into its belly, I felt as if I had stepped into the scene of a sci-fi film.
The hollow, echoing chamber was tall enough to hold 10-story buildings. Stunning stalactites dangled from the curved ceilings. Mysterious stalagmites sprouted from the infertile ground. Red streaks criss-crossed the uneven walls. All eerily illuminated by the bright glow of well-placed lamps.
We walked the 1km wooden boardwalk until its end. Our guide noted that you can take a private trek through the next 7km stretch. Next time, I thought.
Mother Nature continually surprises me with what you can find on this vast planet. In my short life so far, I have climbed to the top of mountains and dived under the ocean. I have hiked and swam through countless forests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls.
Never before have I seen a cave like the ones in Phong Nha, but now I know this time surely won’t be my last.