UPDATED August 28, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Bamboo Road


UPDATED August 28, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Bamboo Road


Biking The Ho Chi Minh Trail On The Bamboo Road Cycling Tour


Judith Gold rode the 2022 Bamboo Road and looks back at her time cycling one of the region’s most famous historic trails.

Ok, so it’s not a trail, it’s now a highway. Really, it is just a two-lane road, with surprising little traffic and in great condition. But it still evokes strange emotions.

A good part of the Bamboo Road 2022 trip in Vietnam was on this road. I think I can safely say, that biking the Ho Chi Minh Trail would not be on many people’s bucket list. It’s not like the Nile, the Danube, nor the Camino. And certainly not like the Tour d’Afrique, the Orient Express, nor the Silk Route. It has none of those romantic associations.

Yet, it should be and not only because of the scenery. There are all kind of agricultural lands: rice paddies and an assortment of plantations, including pineapple, dragon fruit, rubber, coffee, and tea, and those are just the ones that I recognize. It also traverses through some impressive mountains and cliffs that are generally associated with classic images of Vietnam. It passes through countless little villages and mid-size towns and it even take riders to a UNESCO World Heritage site – the Phong Nha-Khe National Park.

And, of course, there is its historic significance, tied up with the Vietnam War and all that the conflict evokes. The intense student protests of the 1960s, the turbulent politics of the first half of the 1970s, Nixon, Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, and the final end of the war, a milestone for the US – withdrawal from Vietnam. It marked the end of an era, where the US, while not defeated, was humiliated and it became clear that it could no longer call all the shots.

However, I finally realized the reason the ride felt so special, is that it shows humanity’s resilience and ability to recover after a tumultuous and destructive era. After a war that spanned three decades, against two rich western nations, one of which was (and is) a superpower, one sees a mostly prosperous nation and industrious people. While not wealthy compared to Europe, there is little evidence of poverty, the land is cultivated, the infrastructure amazingly good, much of the housing stock would not be out of place in many European and North American towns, and most important, the people seem happy. One just feels it. In the smiles and hellos one gets as the road slowly rolls by, kilometre by kilometre.

This seems especially important now, with another war raging on the European continent, between a superpower (or one that thinks it is) and a smaller, much weaker neighbour, who everyone thought, did not stand a chance.

Maybe that is why I was feeling so happy riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the sense of hope and a future, even when the world feels particularly dark. That even war-damaged, weakened nations can prevail, recover and prosper. Or maybe I am just reading too much into a great ride….


Bamboo Road

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3 Comments for "Biking The Ho Chi Minh Trail On The Bamboo Road Cycling Tour"

Love this!

    Loved yourblig!!

Uplifting start to my day. 🙂

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