The Road Less Travelled

by Joshua Black

A leap into the unknown Vietnam


It's late, my fiance and I are exhausted and covered in mud. There's an old Vietnamese woman yelling at us in a foreign language pushing me back into the sofa, refusing to let us leave the house. Behind is her daughter who I'm desperately trying to stop from taking her shirt off. It's utter chaos. Helpless and confused I reflect; how did it come to this? We were on a 2 month motorcycle tour of Laos and Vietnam. We managed to score a Chinese 125cc bike off a traveler in Pakse. Having just finished the first month in Laos, we decided to cross the border into Vietnam at Na Meo. The crossing was relatively straight forward. Mostly bemused laughs at our expense but we got through without a hitch. Then it all began with our pack rack snapping within the first 10 minutes. Next came the highway. The entire 180km stretch of road was under construction. Under construction in this case meant, the road was now non-existent. In it's place sat the most slippery mud slide imaginable. It was utter heart-ache. We were reduced to such a speed that ditching the bike and walking started to appear like a viable option. Exhausted and filthy, we swore that we would throw in the towel. Ditch the bike, cancel our trip, it all wasn't worth it. 7 hours later, with night fallen and us at our lowest point, there was tarmac. Too defeated to appreciate the new found road, we pulled into what appeared to be a restaurant, figuring we could ask for directions. We were ushered round the back by a teenage woman and into her home. This brings us to back to where we kicked off. The old woman yelling, not in a scary way, but in an `I'm just going to repeat myself louder and louder and maybe you'll understand' kind of way. While the teenage daughter stripped in front of us; Chaos. Desperately wanting to get to a hotel, we tried to leave. The old woman pushed us back down continuing her tirade. We had no clue what we had just gotten into nor how the hell we were going to escape. A knock at the door, followed by a man and we really started to worry. We were told to follow on our bike. Turns out, they had called him to lead us into town. The mother wouldn't let us leave because of this. The teenage daughter, was just trying to ask us if we'd like to change our clothes. This kindness continued our entire trip, the people were so unbelievably helpful. We found such new strength in ourselves, the confidence that no matter how bad it gets, just keep going.