Well, that was a wonderful way to send March. Phong and I explored the Ho Chi Minh Trail tour some years ago, and for reasons that left us permanently bamboozled it received little interest. Was it the connotations associated with The Ho Chi Minh Trail? Did people think of UXO, wild ex-warriors still roaming the jungle picking off tourists? Snakes and spiders? Has Hollywood left too many negative images in peoples minds? Or could it be the big numbers? 101kms per day average and hills? Could be. Phong and I always remained committed to this being a wonderful tour and a year ago Phong went so far as to sat “if no one comes on the HCM Trail tour, then we should ride it again for fun, just the two of us”, I concurred. And so it was with a blend of confidence and an inevitable dash of nervousness that Phong and I set out on the inaugural running of the tour with a small group of some of PaintedRoads finest regulars.
The weather had variety but was mostly kind, with overcast sky offering shade on all save a couple of days (which were, to be blunt, bloody hot). We had a spot of rain, just enough to cool us and not enough to dampen our spirits. We had fine food, and it was commented on more than once that the quality of food seems to get better each time we visit Vietnam, and for the remoteness of some of the route our accommodations was often times far better than one may have expected. And the route? Beautiful. Hills, rural, jungle and forest, oft light of traffic and always with jovial locals. The kilometres may be a tad longer than on some tours, but still, covering 130kms on some days saw as relaxing with a cold beer at the hotel before four thirty each day. The hills are there for sure, but not as tough as on other hilly Asian rides – in the words of Dianne “I thought it would be more hilly, so was a bit worried about 100 + kms and big climbs, but should have realised you wouldn’t do that to us”. And on that note I will leave you with a few snapshots from the tour and some comments sent to me post tour by those who came along.
Cheerio for now