The Motorcycle Chronicles - Kon Tum to Kham Duc
Trip Start Oct 27, 2010
43Trip End Ongoing
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After a small mechanical breakdown on the side of the road we are really starting to chew up the miles through Vietnam, and now had our eyes set on the coast. Still on the 'Ho Chi Minh Trail' ('Rt14') we continue along the mountainous roads which sweep through the dense jungle on the steep slopes near the Lao boarder. Once I reached the top of the final mountain I was able to drop the bike into neatral and free wheel the bike all the way down to the next town, saving petrol and preventing the engine from over heating
With the light beginning to fail, and still 120km from the coast and the city of 'Hoi An' we decide to set up up camp in the town of 'Khâm Đức'. We find lodging on the main road through 'Khâm Đức' selecting the 'Phước Sơn Hotel' (Tel. 05103881296) offering private rooms for 120,000 Dong ($6, £4) including all the luxuries of hot water, Air-con, and WiFi.
The town of Khâm Đức is one of the most beautiful I have yet seen in my travels, surrounded by towering mountains on all side, providing some of the most amazing sunsets on earth. This is in stark contrast to the battle that raged in 1968 during the American Vietnamese war, where the American, Australian and South-Viet forces attempted to capture the nearby Khâm Đức air strip. This has since been noted as the worst American defeat of the Vietnamese conflict with many hundreds of American and South Vietnamese troops being killed or captured, and with the lose of 9 air-crafts during the assault.
As I explored the town I was invited by a local man with basic English to join him and his friends for a gathering at his house. They were honoured to have a western guest (and one who was not American), and implored me to drink with them. As I attempted to enjoy the harsh tasting rice wine that they drunk like water, I was offered a selection of local foods including an onion rice soup, different fruits, and a bowl of fresh water snails served in a chilli sauce. Soon we moved from the paint-stripper to a special brew infused with honey which provided an enjoyable sweet taste.
As the spirit flowed the locals became fascinated with my tattoo, as they are not common in rural parts of Vietnam, and insisted in challenging me to an arm wrestle, one after another, seven in a row. Amazingly I still managed to beat all of them, but by the last my arm was ready to drop. But thankfully the rice wine soon dried up, and I was permitted to leave by my host after one final drink shared between ourselves. I was drunk as a skunk and it was only 9pm, but this did mean I slept well that night.