Let me ask you for a little help today. It will not require any serious effort, will not cost anything and can be done after you have read this blog post. I want to cycle the Ho Chi Minh Highway in December 2016. It will be an incredible trip from Hanoi to Hue. The 922 km route starts just outside Hanoi, pass through farms, orchards, tribal villages, incredible scenery, war sites, visits one of Vietnam’s most spectacular caves, and ends in the ancient royal capital of Hue.
The trip is interesting to me for several reasons. I came of age watching the Vietnam War on American television. Video of bombs dropping on the Ho Chi Minh Trail as the US and its allies tried to stop the follow of supplies and ammunition was part of the nightly news. The Battle of Khe Sanh lasted for almost 6 months in 1968 and was watched daily. The US dropped so much Agent Orange that parts of the former base are still barren. If you are old enough then you certainly remember the DMZ, the Tet Offensive and the Battle of Hue. Riding through these places will be an interesting personal, emotional and historical journey.
The beauty of Vietnam is renowned. Of course I have not seen it first-hand but these images from the Internet give you some sense of what the Highway, previously the Trail, will look like as we cycle towards Hue.
My understanding is that Vietnam is even less Westernized than Thailand. One of the delights of cycling from Bangkok to Phuket was that there was not a McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Dunkin’ Donut, Baskin Robbins, or other corporate food entity on every corner. Vietnam, in terms of tourism, is still an emerging nation. I would love to see it before it becomes homogenized. Read Gary Corbett’s blog post and you will understand that the warmth, history and beauty of Vietnam far outweigh anything that might be gained by so called “development.”
Travel is always about the food. Pasta tastes best in Italy. Croissants are better when eaten hot and fresh from the bakery on a cool Paris morning. Guinness stout tastes better in Dublin when you drink it in a pub a few hundred meters from where it originated in the Guinness Brewery at St. James’s Gate. If you have eaten Vietnamese food in your country then you know how good it is. Now imagine how good it will taste in Hanoi, Hue and all the towns in between.
This is where I need your help. SpiceRoads requires at least 2 riders for a tour. Will you please share this post on all of your social media outlets – Twitter, FaceBook, Google+, and many others that I do not use but you do. Also, please email it to cycling friends who might be interested. Better yet, you could decide to go and we will have the required number for a trip. You can see the trip at http://www.spiceroads.com/tours/road_bike_hochiminh I hope you will join me in Hanoi.