Hurrying over Hai Van to Hue

Another early start. The constant bleep of the alarm. The bleary eyed stumble to the bathroom. The disorganised and hurried last minute packing. Breakfast. Order late. Order wrong. But it doesn’t matter… Today, with our Easy Rider guide we were going over the mountains from Hoi An to Hue.

We were taking the Hai Van pass (which, by the way, means the coast-cloud way). This was the same route the top gear boys did on their Vietnam Special… And it is the only reason I know about this road. Cue Jeremy Clarkson, ‘one of the best coast roads… In the world’!
It didn’t disappoint. The start was a little dull. Non de script roads. Typical landscape. But then we hit the coast and some of the longest bridges in Vietnam on a very very… very… windy day. Being battered sideways by storm force winds and seeing your extremely experienced guide swaying side-to-side on his bike does not fill you with confidence, and even less so when he stops and tells you how strong the winds are, and how hard it is on a bike (worried look on his face. Nervous laugh from my lips)… But we both made it.
Despite feeling the need to stop for a well deserved beer we ploughed on and up the pass. Snaking up and down the mountain with the South China Sea east of us and green vertiginous slopes to the west was an awesome experience… It was just too short.
After more snaking. Some shaking. And absolutely no sliding we were down from the mountain and being taken to places most tourists never see. Truly beautiful scenes of Vietnam.
And then we were in Hue. 190 kms of riding behind us and a good night’s sleep ahead.

The guides, the books, the way Hue is described paint a poetic, romantic, imposing image. The Imperial city. The Perfume river. The Citadel.
Unfortunately, whilst the Citadel and Imperial City are impressive and give you a real sense of what imperial life was like in the 19th Century. Life in the city now lacks any truly distinguishing features. Oh to be royalty back in the hey day of the then capital…
… but we were not, and times change. Sure it’s been fun, but once again we are hitting the road.

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