After leaving Hue, we had less than 500 kilometers left to Hanoi. We didn’t have any hurry to get there though as we still had three weeks left before our flight to Malesia. Eventually we spent 6 nights in different guesthouses in small towns between Hue and Hanoi.
We spent a long time trying to figure out whether we should make a loop in Northern Vietnam and go to Sapa or just stay in Hanoi and relax. Sapa was included in our original plan but then we realized that July is the peak month of the rainy season so we had to think about our plans again. If we were lucky, the rain falls would be just occasional and short. But in the worst case, heavy rains could cause landslides that can block the roads for days. Eventually, we chose the safe, yet a bit boring, option and left the adventure in North Vietnam for the next time and for a better season.
We chose the quicker coastal route from Hue instead of the mountain road. There were no accommodations in the remote mountain area close to the border of Laos and 300 kilometers in one day without a tent would have been too much. On our way, we saw villages and quiet small town where the only life was the cows at the roadsides. Maybe we just happened to be there during siesta but the atmosphere was quite weird anyway.
Vinh Moc tunnels
As we chose the coastal route, we got to visit Vinh Moc tunnels that were built during the Vietnam war. The locals built a 2 km long tunnel net in the coast village at the border of North and South Vietnam. It was a places for the civilians to hide during bombings. And it was actually the whole village that moved into the tunnels so it was inhabited by over 90 families during the war.
Before diving into the darkness, we started the round by watching a video that told about the war times. The tunnels were built in three floors and have 12 exits. Part of them face directly to the sea. The tunnels are only 1,5 meters high so as you can imagine, we had to almost walk in a 90 degrees angle. It was pitch-dark apart from few small lights. There were no other tourists that time so we got to explore the place by ourselves. Besides family rooms carved in the tunnels, there were also three wells, toilets and a maternity room for new moms. It was needed as at least 17 children were born in the tunnels during the war.
Walking in the dark and humid cave with an arched back was quite unpleasant. Sometimes we saw a sign showing the way but still we walked wrong way a couple of times or went to a wrong exit. When we finally found our way out, we felt so relieved. Just half an hour underground in the darkness affects the mood surprisingly a lot. It’s hard to believe that the people managed to live in this kind of place for years.
On the same day we continued until Dong Hoi where we found a neat and comfortable room in a guesthouse for less than 7 dollars. So comfortable that we decided to stay two nights and relax a bit. There was nothing especially memorable about this city apart from a delicious noodle soup that was sold in a street stall every night and that cost less than $0,50. You should definitely try that one if you happen to stay in Dong Hoi!
Selfies and meetings on the beach
We ended up spending the next night in a small beach resort near Vinh city. During that day everyone wanted to take pictures with us when we stopped to eat or drink somewhere. We don’t know if that’s because we came to Northern Vietnam as we rarely got photographed in the south (staring has been common everywhere though). One juice vendor wanted her child to the picture with us. The kid was so scared of Jarkko that the pictures turned out to be just funny though.
After arranging a place to stay in a guesthouse near the beach, we grabbed cold beers and went to the beach to see what was going on. The beach was full of locals swimming and spending time before the sunset. As soon as the people noticed us, they came closer to chat with us. Suddenly we noticed that there were at least 20 people sitting around us and everyone wanted to talk with us and take pictures together. Some could speak English but also the ones who couldn’t say more than hello wanted to just hang around.
At some point also two old guys sat down next to us. They stayed there at least half an hour even though we didn’t have any common language to communicate with. The whole situation was somehow funny but also nice. Like we were some kind of big celebrities. The meeting left us in such a good mood. Once again, we got to notice how friendly and welcoming the Vietnamese people are.
In the morning Johanna did a morning walk and said bye to the ocean (Jarkko decided to continue sleeping). We had breakfast in a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in Vinh that served very tasty noodles.
The last part of our motorbiking trip is coming tomorrow so stay tuned! You can read all the motorbiking stories under the motorbiking tag.