Time taken: Around 3 hours
Route Rating: 7/10
Today was the day that we were going to take on the Hai Van Pass, the most famous section of road in Vietnam. This patch of road has achieved it’s cult status due to the glowing recommendations of everybody’s favourite miserable b*stard Jeremy Clarkson. Clarkson said the HVP was “a deserted ribbon of perfection – one of the best coast roads in the world.” With this surprisingly eloquent review in mind we set forth in the morning to take on this fabled stretch of road.
As we started out ascent climbing up towards the pass we could see what Clarkson had been banging on about. The road was freshly tarmacked, incredible views of beaches and little traffic due to the tunnel which lorries can use to bypass the pass.
We stopped to admire this amazing view point but in the top left corner of the picture you can see what was going to ruin our day, fog… As we climbed further up to the pass we became embroiled in the thickest fog I have ever been unfortunate to drive through. We couldn’t believe our luck, supposedly the best ride of the trip and the gods had conspired against us and thrown fog down to ruin the views.
As we kept riding we noticed an awful smell. Hidden in the fog just a few metres from our noses was a lorry full of hogs. As we got closer we saw a lorry full of pigs crawling along the mountain pass. Why did this driver not take the shortcut through the tunnel?! Due to the fog and winding roads we were well and truly stuck behind this pork wagon and couldn’t risk overtaking due to the lack of visibility. I had never given much thought to being a vegetarian but seeing, hearing and smelling the pigs on this lorry put me off meat for a few days. Eventually we reached a break in the fog and revved our engines saying goodbye to those forsaken pigs.
As we wound down the Hai Van Pass and stopped at the exact same point Jezza and the boys did we felt disappointed that a road that had been so hyped up had failed to live up to its acclaim. I have seen pictures and I have no doubt that if conditions were right we would have loved it but sadly I don’t think we could have picked a worse time to do it. Fortunately this was not the only part of the trip we were riding and we reflected that we had already seen countless amazing views and awe-inspiring roads. Clarkson calls it “a deserted ribbon of perfection”, I call it “a foggy hoggy haze”.
We reached our home stay on the outskirts of Hue just after lunch and then headed into the city to explore the Imperial citadel. The citadel is a huge complex and definitely warrants half a day to explore.
Amongst the thick walls, palaces and ruins you can see evidence of this country’s bloody history with sections of the walls blighted by bullet holes. Also considering the citadels vast size I felt disappointed that the palace could never be seen in its former glories before it was ravaged by decades of war.
For all sections of the trip click here