Motorcycle Excursion Day One: Hanoi to Ninh Binh – 95km
It took a little bit longer than anticipated to actually leave Hanoi, what with Byron’s SIM card breaking, my oil leaking, and taking our time packing. Finally, we waved goodbye to our friendly hotel staff (whom we’d miss very much) and navigated the hellish traffic of the city. Today I felt more confident on the bike, weaving and dodging all sorts of traffic hazards while keeping up with Byron. It almost feels like a video game where you have to assess all directions to avoid obstacles to reach a checkpoint.
At one turn, we must have gotten confused because we ended up on a car, truck, and bus-only highway–strictly no motorbikes allowed. At first I was quite nervous with massive tractor trailers right on my tail, but it turned out to be great driving since we were the only small unpredictable vehicles on the road and the trucks were easy to pass. Luckily, the multiple police we passed just stared at us in great confusion and didn’t attempt to stop us.
We stopped every so often to stretch, fill up the gas tanks, or eat at roadside “restaurants” that served only one dish while you sat on miniature plastic lawn chairs. We were in Ninh Binh by 2pm, but since it was the first big day of driving, we decided not to push onwards. There isn’t a whole lot going for Ninh Binh as it’s mostly an industrial city, but the last half hour of driving was magnificent with enormous green and white limestone hills in the background and women working in the rice fields next to the highway. There are a few limestone caves and rivers that are popular to explore, but soon it was dark and we were eager start heading south in the morning.