[Wanderlust Tips December 2017] Our Vespa GTS super scooter has travelled more than 1,300 kilometres. We went through rainy days in Da Nang and burning sunny days in Phan Rang, from small dirt roads along the coastline to stretching smooth white sand beaches, from urban to rural areas, from highways to steep slopes. All of those are unforgettable memories.
Inspired by the 24,000-kilometre journey of Giorgio Bettinelli’s Vespa in seven months from Rome to Saigon in 1993, my partner and I set off a coastal journey from Da Nang to Pearl island in the East on two scooters, Vespa GTS 125cc and Vespa GTS 300cc.
We followed the trail filled with Cham Pa culture, from the cultural museum in Da Nang to Hoi An’s commercial port, crossing Cua Dai bridge, to the Tam Thanh mural village with stories of coastal life in the northeast wind season and unique mural paintings. Following the waves, we passed Tam Hai ferry to Tam Quan, visited Sa Huynh sea, salt fields, and Hon Hai lighthouse, and then travelled to Mui Rong (Dragon’s Nose) to admire the great creation of nature. Driving a little further, we arrived at Nau Lan and stopped at Ganh Den with the lighthouse flashing white and red light to hear the stories about people who light the boats across the sea. We also visited the O Loan lagoon to enjoy seafood, visited Dien Cape – Dai Lanh Cape (the symbol of the first place to see the sunrise on the land), through Vung Ro Bay, Cam Ranh, Vinh Hy, Hang Rai, Phan Rang land with immense sheep fields and fruit-laden vineyards. We stayed in tents like the Mongols in Dinh Cape, crossed Ca Na land, Co Thach sea, Phan Ri to wander the beautiful roads in Bau Trang, Mui Ne and Tram lake before returning to Vung Tau. Ships to finish the journey in the city of Saigon.
Exploring the coastline by scooters is a very special experience, bringing us strange feelings; however, you need to note some suggestions below to have a convenient and safe journey, especially when you drive a charming scooter.You need to make sure that your scooter is strong enough to travel a long journey. It is recommended to carry out careful maintenance and listen to the advice of repair experts to know the condition of your scooter. Scooters often have tubeless tires, so you should take a tubeless tire repair kit and a hand air pump, and the repair kit should be put in the storage box of the scooter in case you need to tight a screw. For a Vespa, you can install more specialized component parts such as Touring or Sporty with windshields and side carriers for your convenience. Always wear a 3/4 or full face helmet for safety. Travelling by scooters has a lot of advantages such as a comfortable sitting position, large storage compartment to carry your items, convenience to refuel (most of the scooters have fuel filter caps in the front side, except for Vespa).
Except for some big wheel scooters, the rest have small wheels and low suspension, so you need to calculate to avoid going into bad-conditions or sandy road because scooters are more likely to sink than motorbikes. On the road, we encountered many slopes such as Lo Dieu Pass, Tan Thanh Pass, Ca Pass, Co Ma slope and Pass on Chua mountain, so you should pay special attention when driving. Do not turn off the scooter when going down the slopes; because the scooter uses a continuously variable transmission, so you can use the following tips: when driving downhill, do not pull the brake repeatedly for too long as it can damage the brake-shoe, leading you to a really dangerous situation; you should pull and release the brake constantly, sometimes increase the speed a little bit to gear down, in order to reduce speed later. In other words, you should increase speed a little and at the same time pull the brake to keep the speed stable at around 15-20 kilometres per hour. When two shafts of the clutch are locked together, release the brake completely, and the car will slowly and safely slow down the slope. Remember when taking corners, do not drive in the opposite lane, and always turn on the lights throughout the journey so that other vehicles and your teammates can easily recognize your scooter.
Just like trips with other types of motorcycle, you need to carry necessary supplies such as a first aid kit, gloves and so on. When we traveled from Da Nang to Saigon, we used Umove waterproof bags or Jamlos cloth bags covered by a rainproof cover. Regarding clothes, you can bring whatever you like, but there should be coats, t-shirts, or cotton caro shirts (we used Boo brand’s clothes). It is recommended to carry a belly bag to store your wallet, money, personal identification, and other important documents. Save emergency numbers and the address of repair shops on the road in case of malfunction. If you love to drive on the beach to play with water, you should remember that the tide will rise quite fast; your scooter can sink in sand, so you should wash the scooter immediately afterwards to avoid rust.
Tran Giap | Wanderlust Tips