Can Gio motorcycle tour

On my last day in Ho Chi Minh City and also last day in Vietnam, I decided to take a motorcycle tour. It’s a classic, I could not leave the country without riding a motorcycle. It was an amazing experience. I haven’t  ride a motorcycle for so many year, I think the last time I was still a teenager. Also, I had never traveled by motorcycle on roads, only in cities.

I chose the tour MRH04: Saigon Outskirt Motorbike Excursion to Can Gio Mangrove Forest from MyRides. It was a full day tour on the motorcycle that leave the city to get to know Can Gio and its mangrove forest. At the departure, the guide Luke gave me a mask to put on and warned that it would take us 45 minutes to leave the city and which soon after we would be a quiet road. At that moment, I realized how big the city is. In previous days I had walked everywhere in the center and it did not look that big.

I was a bit nervous at first because I’m big and I did not want my weight to unbalance the bike, I was rigidly clinging to the bike in the chaotic traffic of Ho Chi Minh City. But after a few minutes I got used to the bike and relaxed. When we got on the road, it was beautiful. I asked to stop so I could get the camera to record the route. It was a beautiful road, almost empty and salt farms everywhere.

Our first stop was at small motorcycle only ferry. Luke told me not to bother that they were all staring at me. He said, “Please do not take it bad, it’s because they are not used to see tourists around here.” I did not even realize that everyone was looking at me. On the ferry a gentleman came to ask me if I was a tourist but his accent was so strong that he had to repeat about 4 times “you tourist?” for me, so I understood. Smiling I said yes. It was interesting to be in a place not so touristy because the trip so far had been in tourist places.

After almost two hours of travel, we arrived at Biosphere Reserve of Vam Sat. There were not many tourists there. We climbed a wooden lookout to enjoy the forest from above. We saw monkeys on the way. Then we went on a lake to see crocodiles. We enter a small boat (almost like a cage) and offer fish to feed the crocodiles that come very close to eat. They said that was the way they found to preserve the animals and not let them get killed.

The tour continued with a boat trip until we reached a part of the mangrove forest where we walked a bit to catch a canoe on the other river and go to see the forest of bats. The landscape was beautiful, silent, only the sounds of the forest. We came very close to a part of the forest where several bats slept in the trees. They were many and huge.

After seeing the bats, we had lunch at the Reserve restaurant, a delight. Luke told me a little more about Vietnamese cooking, I talked about what I had already experienced so far and how  much I liked the local food. After lunch we had a hike through the small trails in the mangrove forest. We had different options to reach the trail, a trunk bridge or normal bridge, since I was not 100% recovered from my leg, I chose the normal bridge.

On the afternoon we continue the motorcycle ride and we stop at a place that produces bird nests, a delicacy of the region. Yes, here they eat bird nests. Throughout the course of the trip, we saw several large concrete buildings, without doors or windows, only with small holes. They are built to tempt the birds to make their nests there. The Swiftlets, native birds of Southeast Asia, build nests with their saliva, the nests are not made of branches and leaves. These giant houses have a sound system to attract the birds. It was an interesting listen to this surrounding bird hissing.

At the factory they hand clean every nest, taking away any impurity and sell them for about 3,000 dollars. In Asia, they believe that eating these nests brings a number of health benefits, from boosting immunity and anti aging to curing cancer. Of course I tasted it, they served with tea, honey and fruit. Pure had no taste at all, it was like gelatin without flavor, so I put a lot of honey and fruits to make it more appetizing.

The return to Ho Chi Minh City was on a large ferry and the landscape of the city on the horizon was beautiful. For me, motorcycle travel is a bit like cycling or sailing, the route is just as important as the place of arrival. It was an amazing day, I recommend the experience.

[Text, photos and video by Karla Brunet – 2019]

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