A Random Motorcycle Adventure in Vietnam Leads Tourists to a "Death Party"
(Photo: Getty Images)
The idling motorcycle wobbled as I climbed aboard, my arms desperately clutching at the waist of the stranger now only centimeters from my face. I eyed Caroline anxiously as her driver started his bike.
“My name is Diamond,” Caroline’s driver yelled at us, attempting to drown out the rumble of the passing Saigon traffic with his slow, practiced English. “OK, we go to Mekong Delta now!” he shouted.
Related: Bring, Buy, Leave: Vietnam
Blue boats in the rivers of the Mekong Delta (Photo: Getty Images)
The bikes lurched into action as our drivers weaved their way onto the busy street. A kaleidoscope of colors sped past us, echoing against my helmet’s visor until the lights and sights of the city were miles behind.
Caroline and I had met two days earlier on a bus ride back from Cu Chi – a vast network of Viet Cong tunnels that are part of the common Ho Chi Minh City backpacker route. The tunnels turned out to be a huge tourist trap, complete with cartoonish mannequin soldiers and tacky, overpriced souvenirs.
“Do you want to see the real Vietnam?” Caroline asked me, as I vented out loud that the trip had been a waste of a good afternoon.
“Then I have a plan,” she said.
Caroline unfolded a ripped piece of paper with a Vietnamese phone number scrawled across it. “This guy, Diamond, offered to take me on a motorcycle trip into southern Vietnam for only $40! He can take you too. We can go together.”
“Diamond?” I asked incredulously. The name – and the do-it-yourself business card – didn’t exactly scream reliability. Caroline looked at the number and then at me and sighed, “I want to go, but not alone. Come with me?”
Beware of the smelly durian. So pretty … so noxious. (Photo: Micah Spangler)