Riding in the Ho Chi Minh Trail Jungle
Jungle trails on Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos vary between barely a single track in the bamboo forest to a newly built logging or mining road for trucks. This time of the year however, after the rainy season, most of the jungle roads have been washed away and only some main national roads can be driven by cars. So we spent days without seeing a single car on the road!
Mostly the trail was dry and hard – this was literally vital as any unexploded bombs would not be disturbed when riding over them. The wet places were like riding on soap! Very, very slippery!
The main excitement was obviously finding the old Ho Chi Minh Trail tracks, the cobblestone trail in the jungle, mostly reclaimed by the growth but still visible. Sometimes surrounded by bomb craters, sometimes next to cliffs and sometimes in the cover of the jungle. Sometimes even still used as a cobblestone road. Obviously parts were rebuilt into national road system as well.
The jungle was an experience. Hot and humid, and with varying terrain – jungle, river beds, cliffs, rice pads and remote villages with literally only a single narrow track leading tot hem, only passable on foot or on a motorcycle.
Where the jungle trail did exist, if was often carved away by the water or had deep meandering canyons to be mindful of.
It is truly a shame that so much of the jungle has been cleared by (il)legal logging. Mining is also a big industry destroying the nature without any protective legislation in place. Here, like in most countries in the South East Asia, the Chinese play a major role in the economy.