On the eve of our 25th wedding anniversary I am filled with many emotions as I reflect on the most memorable way we chose to mark this milestone in our lives.
Vietnam was decided on a few years back, research led me to discover "Easy Riders Vietnam".
I put together my plan and presented it to my husband. His reply was "Really Elisa, off the beaten path Vietnam on motorcycles, have you lost it?" .. to which I replied "Honey, I'm adventurous but I'm not crazy" .. "That's the best part, we won't be doing the driving, that is left to the professionals! We just sit back and enjoy the ride" .. Then the ha, ha moment .. "-"!
And so it was to be, but I have to tell ya it wasn't easy sifting and sorting through the many websites out there claiming to be The Original Easy Riders, The Smiling Easy Riders etc etc. It made me want to ask the question .. "Will the REAL Easy Rider please stand up".
It was challenging but I did my due diligence and sent out a few emails. This led me to Tuan who replied promptly and provided me with solid information, pricing, itinerary options etc. We continued our communication for months as I tried to figure out which option suited our schedule best .. 4 days, 7 days, 10 days??? I couldn't decide as I wanted to see it all, so we opted for the 20 day tour from Hanoi to Saigon along the Ho Chi Min Trail.
As the weeks and days went by, I was excited but truth be told I was nervous too. There were so many unknowns! We are seasoned travelers and have spent time in SE Asia but this would be our first time in Vietnam. As for the fear, it really was based on how our aged bodies would fare the 20 days on the back of motorcycles. And yes, the idea of spending 20 days with virtual strangers was a bit daunting .. I mean, what if we didn't get along?
So the day came, January 6th 2019. We collected ourselves and our gear and made our way down for the meet up at the scheduled time. The elevator ride was pretty quiet. The doors opened, we turned into the lobby and there they were Our Easy Riders! Front and center, bikes parked on an angle, looking professional and ready to receive us. Big sigh of relief :) In those few moments it took to walk through the front door all of my worries and apprehension melted away and what followed was sheer excitement and awesome energy .. the kind you can feel in your core! "The Boys", as we fondly came to refer to them as introduced themselves "Ace & Kun". My name was easy for them, however Drew didn't roll off the tongue as easily so we took to writing out all of our names and sounding them out .. and BAM, the friendship was formed!
They strapped up our gear and suggested we go for coffee, sit down and go over some details .. Route options, what to expect, dietery concerns, bum breaks .. The fact that we would spend the next 20 days together wasn't lost on our Riders and they pointed out the importance of communication. All of this was greatly appreciated and really put us at ease with the adventure .. With that we were off, winding and weaving through the chaios of Hanoi traffic in the early morning.
Over the next 20 days we experienced the most amazing and diverse scenery we could imagine. We learned about the many minority tribes residing in the remote hillsides and their cultures, learned so much about the agriculture and production of the many day to day products made in Vietnam.
Ace & Kun's knowledge of their Country, it's people, the fruits, vegetables, coffee, rice, manufactured products from bricks to incense sticks, to drums to rice paper to chop sticks and rice wine ..WoW .. and so much more! All of which make up these local hardworking peoples livelihood. We tasted, we felt, we drank, we worked along side with the locals. Ace & Kuns respect and courteous manner towards everyone opened alot of doors and allowed us a truly unique experience. We were in awe and know without a doubt we could not have had this experience on our own.
This is what you get with Easy Riders! It's not just the ride .. sure that's AMAZING but the hidden gems that are revealed to you one day at a time, one hour at a time are beyond words.
That brings me to "Bum Breaks" .. yes, it's true we are not used to being on the back of a motocycle for an entire day so periodic stops were necessary depending on the road and the speed we are doing. On a highway you can go much further but on the more rural roads 25k is great and there is always something for the boys to show you! And if there isn't, maybe they'll make you a craft or a toy carved from bamboo. Oh my, the memories are flooding back!
Every day, at the end of the ride we were checked in to our accomodations, bags dropped in room and a time set for dinner. We ate all of our meals together. We very much enjoyed both the food and the opportunity to reflect on the day. All the while building on our friendship.
Towards the end of our journey we enjoyed a tasty, bountiful dinner seaside in Mui Ne. That too was a bonus as Ace & Kun knew the specialties of each of the towns we stopped in. As such, getting to the coast was something we had all looked forward to. We love seafood and the abundance of it was awesome! The next morning as we checked out and the Boys strapped the luggage on the bikes two ladies approached and were curious about us and what we were all about. I explained that we were on a tour with The Easy Riders. Their reply was, "You'd never know it, you all looked like good friends at dinner last night". That to me was the best compliment I could have received because it truly reflected our feelings.
Those last few days went so fast! We didn't want the journey to end. The last day we enjoyed every moment and we're still amazed by Ace & Kun's ability to surprise us with unique stops, walks and food. We took the ferry across to Saigon and with the city in sight our emotions got the best of us.
Pulling into our hotel and saying our goodbyes was bittersweet! We had done it, 20 days .. it was a huge accomplishement and a most awesome adventure for us but at the same time we had to say goodbye to our new friends. As they rode away into the chaotic streets of Saigon .. I couldn't help myself, I burst into song "There go my heroes" ...!!
So, if you are looking for a unique and amazing way to see Vietnam and are unsure of which tour operator to choose, make no mistake .. This Is The Original And True Easy Riders ... !!!
Thank you Tuan, thank you Ace, thank you Kun for making our journey a one of a kind experience and one we won’t soon forget.
Can't wait for our next ride and to hear these words again "I'm ready".
Elisa & Drew ... Cheers 🥂