| 04/07/2011 | 0 Comments

National trunk road Number 6 leads to the historic masterpiece battle of Dien Bien Phu, a strategic victory of 1954 by the Vietnamese over the French forces; a must visit whenever you are in this north western part of Vietnam. For 4×4 enthusiasts, however, Moc Chau is a must stop if you wish to combine a historic visit with off-road adventure.

Story and photos by Luis J. A. Wee

Moc Chau, about half-way to Dien Bien Phu, is a greenery plateau with more than 1,000 meters above sea level and 199 kilometres north west of Hanoi, is very appealing and cool place where mountains, grasslands, tea and corn fields  blend in with off-road tracks. The friendly ethnic groups like the Thai and Mong certainly adds up to this pleasant experience.
Moc Chau is one of our favourite off-road grounds which has everything from tracks, food to a cultural experience, so it‘s the best option to show you within the limited time,” Tran Hung, the Vice President of Off Road Vietnam club (ORV) commented as we journeyed together in his 4×4 machine in the early hours. “We attracted more than 50 enthusiastic queries to join you, including SUVs, but due to the terrain, we have to limit the number to only those with mud tyres and winch, for now,” he added with a smile.
As we regrouped to enter the off-road sector at the outskirts of Moc Chau with 21 vehicles of all makes and models, it was plain to see that this is a passionate group indeed. The off-road tracks meander through the undulating countryside with obstacles like mud, uphill, downhill, rocks and deep ruts. These tracks are mainly for the 6×6 trucks to transport the tea and corn produce out to be processed but they can also be used for recreational use with coordination planned in advance.
Even though the day was relatively hot with expected dry mud, but it was a big bang start with ruts and mud right at the beginning! In fact, everyone had to struggle out of this 1km section. Out came the winch and helping hands in the recovery. It was camaraderie all the time, which also provided the local villagers an added thrilling entertainment.
Even though some of the vehicles were less equipped than others, it was a joy to see all of them jumping into action. RFC Vietnam combat experienced team Vinh, most naturally led the way and did most of the recovery and repeair work for the convoy. For many, it was a good lesson in off-roading including the use of the ground anchor.
Off-roading here in Vietnam is still in its early stage, so it’s expected that many new things got to be learnt like skill driving, technical winching and recovery plus safety features. But with such a passionate and fast learning off-roaders like these; it will be no surprise that more Vietnamese 4×4 teams and enthusiasts will be seen in RFC.
We got together for fun a few years ago and we will register our club to make it official,” commented Vu Tien Son, the club President. “With more exposure and cooperation with RFC, we are confident to take Vietnamese 4×4 fraternity into the world stage in the near future,” he added enthusitically.
Back to our off-road day, the hard struggle at the start was rewarded with a late lunch break.  After that, with renewed energy, the convoy continued with more driving and recovery and breakdowns – all part and parcel in a 4×4 outing. More ruts and mud tests greeted us on the way as we went uphill and downhill passing by picturesque countryside. There are more trails available here which will take a couple of days to finish, but with our limited timeframe, a shorter version is used for this time.
After all the sweat and teamwork, towards evening, we emerged out into a greenery valley which was picture perfect for a group photo. It was a good day trip with enthusiastic shouts of joy as everyone posed and enjoyed the view. However, that was not the end of the day yet, the twists and turns of this highland trails lasted for a couple of hours more into the night. We were only out of Moc Chau for a timely dinner by 9pm. It was a most satisfying 12 hours fraternity with 4×4 enthusiasts from Hanoi. For those with more time, Moc Chau would be a good stop-over on the way to Dien Bien Phu.

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