There has been many a time in Asia when I have thought to myself, “Wow, that was dumb and probably could have killed me,” but our road trip to Nha Trang was by far the most dangerous/stupidest thing I’ve done yet. There were several moments when I thought, “Yep. This is it. Death by motorbike. This is how I die.”
Let me explain.
Motorbiking Vietnam, in general, probably isn’t the safest activity. However, if you keep to the scenic routes and avoid Highway 1 (better known as the Death Highway. Not even my nickname) you should be fine. Problem was, the scenic route from Hoi An to Nha Trang would’ve taken 3 to 5 days and we really didn’t have that kind of time. We could do Highway 1 in 2 days. How bad could it be?
It was bad. Like, really bad. You are one tiny motorbike on a heavy traffic highway with big trucks making blind passes, other motorbikes surrounding you and horns constantly blaring in your ears. The drivers are aggressive (beyond aggressive, actually) and you spend most of your time avoiding everyone around you, driving on the shoulder of the road. Passing lanes aren’t a thing. The trucks pass whenever they want and it’s like a game of chicken where the biggest vehicle wins. They also don’t stay in their own lanes; they drive where they want when they want (usually far too close for comfort).
There were at least 3 instances where I had 2 large buses coming directly at me, taking up both lanes of traffic, literally running me off the road. There was also an instance where I was stuck between a bus and an oncoming truck, veering out of the way just in time. No exaggeration, I nearly died on Highway 1 several times. Calming breaths and solo Spice Girls singalongs got me through.
Day 2 of our drive was the worst, taking over 11 hours to get to our destination. The majority of the drive was a dusty construction zone with the one short, scenic bit being completed in the dark in the rain (but of course). We were also caring for a live chicken throughout all of this, so there was that added stress to the day (love the thing, but she’s an effort to take on the road).
By the time we got to Nha Trang our biker gang (consisting of myself, Karlee and an English guy we’d met) was completely covered in dust and grime, I had taken a rock to the eye, and we were all wet and grumpy. It was a shit day. We needed a drink.
It was nearly 2 am by the time we had showered, bought some Redbull and generally pulled ourselves together. We decided to venture to the one bar that was open this late. And then we got mugged.
Leaving the hostel, we had run into some Stranger Friends we’d met in the North. They told us to turn around and leave all of our valuables in the room. In their words: “Guys will get beat up. Everyone gets mugged.” (Nha Trang seems delightful, doesn’t it?). Thankfully, we took their advice and took out only the bare minimum because within less than an hour I was swarmed by a group of Vietnamese ladies on the street.
Sure, the ladies are tiny, but in numbers they are mighty and I was legitimately unable to get away from them. I clutched my purse, attempted to break free and yelled to Karlee to save me. She (being the trooper she is) barrelled into the swarm, grabbed my arm and pulled me away. In the scuffle they stole her wallet and our room key. My wallet was within a zipper within a zipper within a zipper so they weren’t able to grab it, though they did steal my pen and tissues (Ha). The Vietnamese ladies then sped off on a scooter. Rude.
There isn’t much more to add to this story…I nearly died. And then we were mugged. Nha Trang is a beauty of a place…