Vietnam’s geographical shape - long and narrow for the most part, lends itself perfectly to a linear or slightly non-linear route from one end of the country to the other.
For many adventurous travellers, the vehicle of choice for completing this epic journey is a motorcycle, not only because of the country's shape but for a number of other important reasons.
It was mid-January and we had been staying for several weeks in the mountain town of Sapa, nestled high among the ‘Tonkinese Alps’ (Hoang Lien Mountains) in the northwestern part of Vietnam.
Sapa is a town that initially delights the senses. One is first impressed by the favourable temperate climate, the man-made reservoir with swan pedal boats and the charming old stone catholic church originally built by the French.
We first rolled into Mui Ne on our newly bought Yamaha Nouvo automatic motorcycle on the late afternoon of a November’s day.
All of a sudden, there was that unmistakable coastal vibe, so often detectable long before the ocean or the sandy beaches are within sight or earshot.
The minivan suddenly ground to a halt and dumped us out onto some unfamiliar street, in front of some generic looking local Vietnamese restaurant.
It was a bitterly cold November night and the rain was coming down in torrents. After the nauseating journey up through the winding valley from Lao Cai, we had finally reached the hill station of Sapa, the tourist hub of northwest Vietnam.