While spending some time in Central Vietnam, I decided to do a little motorbiking. Riding around a large city can be ludicrous and emotionally taxing but when in a smaller town it’s great to find a street and hit it just to see where it goes.
Down and up winding roads through the woods and into valleys where the only noise is the bike’s motor and the bugs in the trees.
There are beautiful hillside farms where people stand on each terrace watering their rows and the sky above is as big as the mountains they cultivate.
A truck sat toppled headfirst off the road in a ditch as caravans of mammoth tour buses taking up the whole oncoming road at every turn slowly crawled past negotiating the limited roadspace.
Once out in the hills the ledges and valleys became scenic distractions and as I took a few turns in the middle of nowhere I kept thinking that the town I just left might be just over the next ridge or around the next bend. No roads out here were straight so I never knew exactly what direction I was riding in relation to where my bags, my bed and hotel was.
The heavily forested roads were green, lush, and stunningly deep for not being more than 30 minutes from town. Though the corners and hills were twisted and confusing, the random riding in a strange and unfamiliar country makes the uncertainty all the more fun.
The clouds grew from tufts of white cotton into walls of solid blackness sheathing the ground from any sort of friendly light. Getting back to town was a race against the rain but the downpour was sudden and intense and in about 5 minutes from the first drop I was completely soaked, pulling the brim of my helmet closer down above my eyes so I could glimpse enough of the road as to not ride off it.
It was the only time in nearly a year in Asia where I was actually cold. Wet and chattery, I zipped back down the hills, leaning through the curves and squinting through the rain, I passed two downed motorbikes and a small crowd of traffic slowly going by to ogle. What I remember most was the lone flip-flop that laid haphazard in the middle of the street next to one of the bikes. I thought about the truck in the ditch from earlier and realized it was going too fast to manage the corners of the hills and I wondered how fast these poor motorbikes were going when they slipped in the rain. Wondered if it was as fast as I was going that particular moment.
Finally found my way home after fighting through the downpour and waddled my stiff and soaked body up to my fourth floor room where, while drying off, I noticed outside that the sun had come out and all the wet streets were steaming off the sunshine.