In a few weeks we will be going back to Asia, so it’s really time to share the (way too many) pictures from our Cambodia – Vietnam motorbike road trip last spring.
Going through the pictures a few months later actually makes us nostalgic and even more appreciative of our trips. Maybe because we forget all the small travel inconveniences and tiredness (and bum pain from sitting so long on a bike…), so only the amazing impressions remain!
We went for a brief tour around Cambodia to visit friends. There we bought a Vietnamese motorbike from another backpacker, a Honda copy called Detech. Two unusually tall white people with their folded legs and way too much luggage – that was a view that made many Vietnamese people smile 😀 But the little Comrade – that’s the name we gave her – took us 8000km all the way up to the North of Vietnam and the China border, with (almost) no trouble.
Note the pillow that we bought after just 1 day, to lessen the bum pain. It tended to fall everytime we stopped, and really made Vietnamese people laugh a lot!
To take our time and enjoy Vietnamese life slowly, we stopped for a couple of weeks at a time in the large cities: Saigon, Danang, Hanoi. The rest of the time we drove around 150km per day, stopping for 1-2 nights in small local guesthouses, eating rice lunches and noodle soup dinners, and not missing western life at all. Ok, maybe just chocolate 😋
So here’s a little photo-report of our 3 months.
Wat Banan near Battambang in Cambodia
Banteay Chhmar temple in the North of Cambodia. Lonely, overgrown, mystical… Not as impressive as Angkor, but without the crowds you get to appreciate it much better
Fine carvings, still in Bantear Chhmar
In this temple of Preah Khan, very lost in the jungle and hard to access, we were completely alone around sunset, when all the jungle life wakes up
Prasat Preah Vihear on the Cambodia-Thailand border in the North, perched on the mountains that separate the two countries – so you get to peak into Thailand. Apparently they even had an armed conflict about it a few years ago…
I don’t normally like pepper, but this Kampot pepper from Cambodia is so full of flavour that it tastes like a special spicy herb. We loved it with lime juice to accompany meats and fish.
Enjoying the seafood in Kep, Cambodia
Cambodian-style (i.e Theravada buddhism) temples can also be found in the Mekong delta in Vietnam, as there are many Cambodian minorities living there
Vietnamese-style (i.e Mahayana buddhism) temples look more Chinese. This one is actually a family mausoleum
On the right side of the road was the village, on the left was the village of the dead (cemetery) – with much nicer houses than those of the living
Vietnamese people loved to laugh about our height 😀
Somehow all the street food stalls have these tiny children plastic chairs… perfect size for Cesar!
Noodle soup with herbs and a special delicacy – an egg developing into a foetus. Delicious eggy-meaty flavour (Cesar wouldn’t really agree haha)
Typical street food stand in the countryside
Beautiful old-style wooden houses in the Mekong Delta. Unfortunately they are being quickly replaced with new, much uglier cement buildings
In a swampy jungle, the vietnamese bunkers from the “American war” (aka Vietnam war) have been preserved. Walking around this place makes you imagine the harsh conditions, much better than any film…
Early morning wholesale market on one of the Mekong delta waterways
Houses seem to float on water in this Mekong delta city
In Saigon (or Ho Chi Min City), the French townhall now faces Uncle Ho’s sculpture
Talking about France – this place on the coast looked just like Bretagne! Complete with a French-built lighthouse.
But the boats are unmistakably Vietnamese. The round ones are called “coracles” – apparently locals started using bamboo baskets as transport, to avoid a French tax on boats
Unexpected landscapes: is this Vietnam or Morocco?
Unexpected landscapes 2: is this Greece or Vietnam?
Unexpected landscapes 3: is this Vietnam or … what? In the mountains around Dalat, the atmosphere feels almost European with the cooler air and pine trees
French villas in Dalat – that’s where they used to escape the heat in the mountains
In the cold rainy mountains in Dalat, we warmed up eating our favorite soup – bun bo hue. Much better than pho, and much more common in the south.
Another warm-up favorite: sweet hot soymilk. This lady was very happy that we came back for her specialty – sweet-potato purple soy milk 😛
We are not beach bums, but there were a few very nice wild beaches on our way up.
Offroad biking on the coast
Making boats to match the colourful homes 😀
Cesar’s favorite drink was sugarcane juice, made by crushing the sugarcane in these old machines. Most often they had cute hand painting on them!
Walking around Hoi An, famous for it’s silk lanterns
Hoi An canals busy with tourists and photoshoots
At the imperial palace in Hue
Around the imperial temple grounds in Hue
On the “Ho chi minh trail”: road along the Laos jungle mountain border, used by the North vietnamese to smuggle guns and troops to the south. Today it’s one of the best motorbiking roads in the country.
Luscious jungle vibrating with life. A shame photos can’t transmit the sounds and smells…
Jungle after rain
Emerald young rice fields in between the mountains
Happy bikers after the rain
Uncle Ho, Lenin and Stalin reminding that on paper, this is still a communist country
Idyllic countryside with old bamboo irrigation systems
Idyllic countryside where we stayed and swam in the waterfalls for Ieva’s birthday
Bamboo-framed rivers everywhere, but this one had such a colour!
Crossing a region where they grow literally mountainfuls of pineapples 😛
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay inhabitant
At the Chinese border – on the other side of the river is China
Buffaloes enjoying the nice view
Sunday market in Meo Vac in the North of Vietnam. They were selling all sorts of animals and birds, with indescribable squeals, bleats, barks, moos!
In the mountains live ethnical minorities, each proudly displaying their own style of traditional clothing
The pigs where the noisiest and tended to tangle their leashes, causing owner ladies to scream to separate them
The rice selling ladies that we found the prettiest with their headresses
Dogs were also on sale, but not sure if it was for eating or petting. There are many dog meat restaurants in that region.
Market canteen where we ate noodles with them
Some more incredible mountain views in the region
Little break to rest our hurting bums 😛
Rice terraces, flooded and ready to be planted.
Whereas down in the valleys it was rice harvest time
Enjoying our last Vietnam days in Hanoi, where we also hang out in backpacker cafes to sell our sturdy little motorbike (just 2 afternoons drinking coffee and it was sold, for the same price we bought it)
Aaanyways… hard to choose from literally thousands of photos taken on this long adventure. But you get it – Vietnam is beautiful, surprising, diverse, full of delicious food and nice people, especially if you get out of the main tourist trail. And the motorbike gave us this incredible freedom to explore everything (almost) like locals. And saved us from dealing with annoying bus and train rides. And we already plan to go back there and live for a bit… if all goes well 🙏
Just to finish, a some random funny things seen on the roads:
Everyone, even children, often wears those fabric masks, supposedly to protect from pollution but also to avoid sun and stay nice and white
They transport everything on motorbikes.. even motorbikes
Kids travel on the motorbike too
Count the ducks
The chickens are still alive, by the way
Taking the 500kg buffaloes home – a kids game
Welcome to the hairdressers
This is how the rice is dried – by throwing it on the roads with little traffic
After the conical hats, the second most popular hat is this green vietcong helmet
Kids running after finishing school
Slow countryside life
More slow life in the countryside