The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, originally known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The community of overlanders here in GCC is strong, but to many of them, riding far east is something very abnormal, risky and even dangerous, due to some of the differences on religious concepts.
A Kuwaiti rider, Abdul Mohsin T. Albaghli, with his Honda Africa motorcycle after conquering an epic 6835 miles (11,000 km) trip within 32 days in China and Tibet, has decided to extend his lifetime journey to South East Asia. This was to prove traveling to the region is safe, regardless the majority of the population here is Buddhists.
Vietnam was the forth destination in the SEA itinerary of this rider. Entering Vietnam just a few days prior to the lockdown order by the Government of Vietnam due to the continuous development of the Coronavirus pandemic, Adbul truly had some of the very beautiful rides and unforgettable memories in the land of timeless charm.
Entering from Lao Bao, the busiest border of the Central Vietnam, he rolled to Hue as the first night stop of the itinerary. Situated right in the middle of Vietnam, Hue is a stunning, imperial city brimming with a rich history and cultural heritage. Much like Beijing, Hue has its own Forbidden City, which is now in ruins because of the Vietnamese-American war and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. Despite being just a shadow of their former glory, exploring the imperial citadel and tombs is an amazing experience and gives great insight into Vietnam’s turbulent past.
Hue, as it's really known, had its heyday as the capital of Vietnam in the first half of the nineteenth century. But it's violet or purple, the color of Hué that startles and amazes the visitors. Violet-coloured ao dai are especially common in Hue, having a special connection to the city's heritage as a former capital.
The next stop is Hoi An. UNESCO Listed Hoi An is a former merchant trading post, famed for its beautifully preserved architecture, ancient cobbled streets and picturesque riverside location. The influence of past traders from Japan, China and Europe is evident in Hoi An, whose backstreets are lined with large, attractive merchant houses and pagodas.
Today, Hoi An is awash with art stalls and markets, fabulous restaurants and cooking schools, not to mention streets literally lined with tailor-shops, all catering for the town’s thriving tourist trade. Nevertheless Hoi An still manages to retain its traditional character and charm and with pedestrian streets devoid of the usual cacophony, Hoi An’s quiet and relaxed pace of life adds to its effortless appeal.
Bidding farewell to the graceful town of Hoi An, the overland trip in Vietnam continued to Kontum in Central Highlands, passing through the scenic Spring Pass. Kon Tum is the perfect place for nature lovers who want to roam among the dramatic scenic natural beauty surrounded by lakes, mountains, cafe plantations and a tropical rainforest.
Located in Vietnam’s Central highlands and near the borders of Laos and Cambodia, Kontum packs an extraordinary variety of places for tourists to get around and find out the unique language, culture of ethnic minority group in their lifestyle.
Back on road again, Abdul continued to the laid back but sleepy town of Gia Nghia. Looking at the map, he had high hopes of discovering hidden gems among the many mountains, waterfalls, and ethnic villages that dot one of Vietnam’s newest provinces, Dak Nong and its capital Gia Nghia. Split off from Dak Lak in 2005, Dak Nong shares a long border with Cambodia, at the southern reach of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, and he hoped for a slice of virgin territory to explore.
The overland tour into Vietnam finally reached its end when the Kuwaiti rider crossed into Cambodia. Over a few days, this overland journey covered some of the best highlights in Central and Central Highlands of Vietnam, from the ancient capital of Hue, lantern-lit town of Hoi An, sleepy towns of Kontum and Gia Nghia among the many mountains, waterfalls, and ethnic villages.
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