Vietnam by Moto Day 17: Hai Van Pass to Hue

Made famous by an episode of BBC Top Gear, the road from Danang to Hue crosses Hai Van Pass (some even call this Top Gear pass). The main traffic bypasses the route with a tunnel so only motorbikes, livestock trucks and oil tankers use the pass.

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Oil tanker headed up.

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View from the coconut stop. Some other backpackers took this for us.

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View toward Danang

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Pig trucks. We saw so many of these.

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Coconut and hammock a perfect combination. This was an expensive coconut for 2 at 40k vnd.

We took our time up the pass to avoid overheating. At the top, we stopped to check out an old military installation from the war riddled with bullet holes.

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Top of the pass

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Military installation at the top with bullet holes

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Looking north toward Hue from the pass.

I filmed part of our descent and Rob sped it up with Microsoft hyperlapse. Check it out here.

Continuing on the highway to Hue, we passed a valley full of vendors with cases of bottles. At first we thought gas, then happy water. The air started to get smoky and we began to see home-made stills. Rob stopped at one and bought a bottle. It was really expensive, $6.

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One of many roadside stills.

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The road was lined with these displays of bottles.

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Roadside distillation stall. The smoke along the road was terrible. 

It was amazing how many of these stills were operating. While it was interesting to see them all, it was also a relief to leave the smoke behind and turn off on to the “coast” road (it was really an huge inlet for much of the drive) leaving the highway behind. The way was slower going and longer but the scenery was beautiful. We got lucky and realized that there is bridge back toward Hue earlier¬†(farther south) then we expected so we were able to get to our hotel before dark.

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Avoiding highway 1/taking the scenic way to Hue

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Fishing on a many land-locked bay south of Hue.