A potential folly of solo travel is there’s nobody to double-check your work, and I experienced this issue at my hostel at 4am, when it transpired I’d booked for the next evening and there was no bed for me. (There are reasons people keen to try solo travel in Vietnam opt for group trips, instead of bumbling around like me looking for places to stay).
Thankfully, the owner was kind enough to let me sleep on what ended up being an incredibly comfortable couch in preparation for the next morning. After a delicious breakfast (hostels throughout Vietnam tend to offer incredible free breakfasts) our group of roughly twenty-five wannabe bikers received a quick run-down of the route. We were then given the option of renting our own semi-automatic bike, or using the ‘easy rider’ service, which meant perching on the back of a hostel worker’s bike while they drove. In the weeks leading up to my excursion I’d had plenty of practice on regular automatic scooters (unsuitable for the elevation changes on the loop), so I was confident enough to ride alone, even on the slightly unfamiliar machine. I picked a Honda Wave with some pre-existing battle scars, hoping I’d be able to take on some of the vehicle’s hardiness. After a few minutes of getting to grips with the semi-automatic mechanism, we were all brought back to the hostel and advised to split into smaller groups of four or five as the distance between stops could be quite long, and being in a massive crowd wasn’t always feasible.