Scariest Motorbike Ride of My Life

Our last day in Sapa we decided to hire a motorbike to visit some nearby villages. I learned how to drive a manual transmission motorbike a couple of weeks ago in Chiang Mai and did quite a bit of driving there. The roads in and around Chiang Mai are flat and straight whereas the roads in and around Sapa are hilly and in poor condition.

The ride started well as we coasted downhill out of Sapa along the windy road into the valley below. Within a few km however the road progressively got worse and worse. About 8km out we came across several areas where the mountain streams partially flooded the road but thankfully it wasn’t hard to cross. Then we came across areas where the road was in poor condition and flooded. Had to go slow over these parts but again, it was no problem. But less than 1 km later, we ran into a small problem. There was a small pond covering the entire road. It was as if someone scooped out the road and filled it in with water. I drove through slowly but soon my flipflop broke and we nearly got stuck but I managed to drive through barefoot. Thankfully there were no sharp rocks. Then less than 1 km later the road was split into 2 parts. On the mountain side there was a deep mud track and on the cliff side there was an even deeper pool of water. The mud side was the safer option but once again my flipflop broke and the bike nearly fell over when this happened but thankfully (yes, I’ve used the word thankfully several times but there’s no better way to describe it) we kept it upright. At this point my heart was pounding so hard I thought I’d have cardiac arrest. We stopped at a roadside restaurant about 1km down the road but while executing a u-turn I almost lost control of the bike for some reason and we almost ended up in a ditch on the mountain side of the road. I think my nerves were already frayed at this point which probably resulted in the poor u-turn execution.

Yes, that’s a road. And yes, my right foot is bare.

We took lunch then walked down to the Cau May village in the valley; the track was right next to the restaurant. The drive back was slightly less stressful since I now knew what to expect. Even so, my heart was still pounding wildly and it wasn’t till we dropped off the bike and got a beer that I started to calm down. My flipflops unfortunately didn’t survive the ride but luckily my feet got away with no injuries.

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