We decided to book with Back of the Bike Tours. This tour was designed by an American Chef, who worked at Alinea (consistently ranked one of the best restaurants in the world and located in Chicago) and lived in the Vietnamese neighborhood in Chicago. He fell in love with Vietnamese food and decided to visit Vietnam - where he fell in love with the country, the people and a young woman.
The tour starts by picking you up at your hotel. You meet your driver, most of which are young women - the story is that young women are safer drivers. We are riding on the back of our driver's personal motorbike and we are assigned to the same driver for the whole night.
No one in our group had ever spent much time (if any) on a motorbike before. We were a bit apprehensive at first, but after we met our guides our fears were definitely lessened.
|The bikes we'll be riding throughout the evening.|
|Meeting our guides.|
|All prepped for the dinner tour - including safety helmets.|
As we headed out, we held on for dear life and snaked our way through the crowded streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Weaving our way through traffic around round-abouts and after a couple near-misses we made our way to our first stop. A traditional Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette). We each had half a sandwich (about 4" long) with pâté, peppers, pork, cilantro and pickled vegetables. This was really great - so flavorful, so fresh. One of our group is gluten free, so when we told our guide this, he immediately found an alternate meal for him.
|Banh Mi Shop|
|John enjoying his Banh Mi|
|Loved this sandwich.|
It was at this stop that we really got to sit down and talk with the leader of our group (who is also the owner of the tour company). He told us of his passion for Vietnam, for the people, the food, everything.
|It's unclear what we were eating, but it was very tasty.|
|Pork, shrimp and some jellied meat...|
|Open air crepe stations|
|Large group of people loving the crepe stop.|
|All the fixins' for the crepes.|
|Ryan and I enjoying the crepes and drinking |
some amazing sugar cane juice.
The next place we hit was probably my least favorite and it was a bun (noodle) shop. While this food was good, we had much better bun in Hanoi. This place was also so brightly lit, it felt a little sterile - like an operating room.
|Bright bun (noodle) shop.|
|Name of the Bun shop where we had dinner.|
|Our group posing after dinner.|
Our final stop was along a major thoroughfare for dessert. We had some puddings, some durian and a couple very sweet drinks. The durian, which most of the Vietnamese guides hated, didn't taste too bad to me. It wasn't like I had heard, so miserable and disgusting that it would turn your stomach. I probably wouldn't order it on my own, but it wasn't all that bad.
|Street at our final stop.|
This trip was fantastic, not only did we get to eat some amazing food, travel like the locals, meet people who were passionate about the country, food and really just living life, but we got to meet people who while very different from us, they had the same wants, needs and dreams. This really is what travel is all about, isn't it?
Have you ever done a motorbike tour? Does the idea of riding a bike throughout Saigon terrify you? When visiting a new City do you try to hit up the local eateries or do you stick to things you are more use to?
Be the first to know when a new post is published: sign up to receive them via email or directly in your RSS Reader. Follow me on Twitter or Google Plus too!