Abenteuer

  • ein militärisches/politisches/verbrecherisches Abenteuer a military/political/criminal venture
  • auf Abenteuer aus sein to be looking for adventure

We crave adventure, an escape from the routine. But the plethora of information on the internet threatens the experience of any form of adventure. In an instant, we can plot and plan our journeys down to its finest detail. Here at Rock Ready, we yearn for a hard earned trip, filled with spontaneous decisions and problems to be solved along its way. Riding is an experience, so is an adventure, it cannot be planned for nor created deliberately. It is the visceral feeling on a motorcycle, the uncompromising weather and people you meet along the way. Three great friends waltz into the unknown together.

The Ho Chi Minh trail was born out of a dark phase in Vietnam’s history books. In the face of relentless attacks by Americans, the trail was kept open to move supplies from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. It consists of numerous paths and trails that starts from Hanoi. Much of it meanders within Laos before reaching into Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) where ammunition and crucial supplies found their way into the hands of communist guerrillas.

Decades later, these pathways remain largely the same. The roads and trails wind through the mountainous terrain, running beside the main artery which is the main highway that stretches the length of the country. The terrain has been the perfect setting for adventurous motorcyclists all over the world. Well documented and published by many who have come before, CW drew inspiration from the beauty of the challenge that this journey posed. He roped in two of his best riding mates, Marcus and Karl who were eager to test their own mettle as well.

Touchdown

None of the three friends knew much to expect. They had bought their flight tickets on a whim, and chose to go forth spontaneously. Working around the number of days they had, they decided on a journey that was south bound. While most travellers would pass through the established coastal road that ran the length of Vietnam, no motorcyclist would ever choose to ride such highways that perpetually went on forever. From there, they plotted their route along the Ho Chi Minh trail, expecting the scenic route to be lined with the beautiful mountainous ranges. This route would follow roads that at times, seemed almost non-existent. This pretty much dictated the locations for each pit stop of the trip.

With their spirits high and determined to let fate decide their experience, the three friends packed light, only clothes, passport and bare essentials. Karl and CW wisely brought along their raincoats as a contingency. Unfortunately, the team was left without their assortment of tools and fuses that they had brought along, when security confiscated them after the hand-carry check.

They touched down in the evening and settled for the night. In their own space, each of them were undoubtedly curious about their journey ahead, ever more so because of the uncertainty. But the friends drew comfort from one another, quietly confident that they had each other’s back should things go south. Dawn broke, the three friends went about the city of Hanoi looking for a cheap motorcycle under USD$200 to purchase.

A quick search on the internet directed them to a few established shops. Weaving through the sea of traffic on motorcycle taxis, they made their way there. Shophouses selling auto parts lined the street, the motorcycles were splayed out on the oil stained concrete floors. They were so close that they seemed to be entangled with one another, huddled in fear of the journey that their potential owners might take them on.

Honda Win

The establishments here sold the Honda Win, appearing in decent, serviceable conditions. The local market had seen enough aspiring ‘adventure’ riders and none of the owners were letting any motorcycle for less than USD$400. The three friends were on a student’s budget. Doubling the cost of the ride was not an option. They wrestled with the idea of renting the bike for USD$200, but they all had an inkling that somewhere down the next turn, a cheaper alternative would surface. They much preferred to take the gamble, to risk riding a horrendous motorcycle and overcome the obstacles that would be thrown in their way.

How dull it would be, to have a motorcycle trip with no hiccups, desperate situations and insufferable weather? But to faff around and be indecisive would mean they would lose considerable time, extend the road coverage per day and even risk missing their return flights. There was a round table discussion with beer that night, take the gamble it was.

They had to move off the next day and became less hopeful as they wandered down the same street in search of a bike. The three friends were in constant worry, yet they were hopeful that the tide would turn and things will go their way. To their amazement, it was a small tour agency, hidden in an alleyway that had exactly what they needed. They were picked up by a suspicious looking van that wandered towards the outskirts of Hanoi. The end destination was a derelict garage that was filled with motorcycles. Marcus adamantly expressed their budget and deflected any form of up-selling from the owners. 

The three friends laid their eyes on the last three USD$200 Honda Wins. There was no love at first sight, no aura glowing behind the motorcycles. The first one looked like it had all the correct parts that made up the Honda Wind. The second seemed to have made an unsuccessful face lift, attempting to mimic a strip down, cafe racer style. While the previous owner of the last bike had it spray painted black all over, with no effort taken to remove the individual panels while doing so.

Karl swung a leg over the first Honda Win, which would become CW’s ride for the trip. Karl took it for a test ride. Even though it was a rust bucket, with misaligned steering, plush wood for seats, a carburetor that was probably sourced from Aliexpress, the bike started, idled and ran. Besides, these were the only options they had, and away they must!

Off and away!

The deal was done, they loaded their packs and rode into the horizon. But a road trip is never as romantic as it seems. Thirty kilometers in, CW’s best looking Honda Win had an amusing look to it. Its headlight hinged on one bolt, and drooped towards the right of the motorcycle. It had the look of defeat, like that of an unwilling participant in this epic journey, for it had probably seen the sufferings of this cross country ride during its ten odd years in service. It would not be the last instance that this motorcycle gave up. 

Stay tuned for the next chapter in this epic journey!

– Joel