Miles Away from Húe by Lee Scarratt
One of our friends is out in Vietnam at the minute and has discovered what it's like to ride two wheels on the open road. Here's a short story he's written about his exploits...
Straddling the warm wet seat of my motorbike I look around me, taking in the solid sheets of water that are raining down outside and hammering on the tin roof above me. Huddled in the dark around a small portable TV, two young Vietnamese girls curiously stare at me, the screen illuminating their faces in the darkness and the familiar sound of The Simpsons voices fill the air. I nod and smile to their father who is ushering me further inside the thrown together shack beside the road out of the rain, killing my engine as I do so. Their mother graciously pulls out a red plastic chair and places it beside my bike, motioning for me to sit to which I happily oblige, bowing to say thank you. The temperature drops due to the storm; I pull my coat collar zip up to my chin to conserve body heat and look out into the darkness wondering: how did I end up here?
Overlooking a delicate blood red orange sunset with two friends in Huè we decided that it would be an adventure to buy motorbikes and drive from the North to the South of Vietnam. Having never rode a motorbike since I crashed my Dad’s when I was a teenager, I was very reluctant. To tell the truth, they scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want to be left behind and I knew that it would also be a brilliant way to see the country in a way which would not be possible on a sleeper bus. So, parting with my $200, I was now the proud but nervous owner of a Yamaha, ready to overcome my fear.
It came naturally, racing through bright green rice fields, high winding mountain passes, sandy beach fronts and dusty dirt tracks through all types of weather. Our adventure led us through Nha Trang, Hoi An, Dalat and on to Ho Chi Minh City where we would then head towards the Cambodian border. I felt a real sense of freedom, the road rushing beneath my feet, wind whipping past my face and the locals waving to us as we passed by.
Together we are the ‘Biker Mice from Mars’, reliving one of our favourite childhood cartoon shows. Sitting beside each other, we shake off the remenants of the rain water which had caught us by surprise, causing us to swiftly pull off the road into the nearest shelter taking refuge, laughing as we do so. Our humour never ceases no matter what Vietnam throws at us and we love every moment of it.
The rain starts to slow allowing us to ride again, and I smile, reflecting on those images racing through my mind. A road to a new me. A road to new friends. The journey which is my story to make and create.