Virginia Morris is a security and defence analyst and author based in the UK. Her research specialty is asymmetric war and terrorism. Morris cycled the Hồ Chí Minh Trail with her husband and children in 2015. The trail is a thousand miles long and runs from Việt Nam through Laos and Cambodia. Her journey, which was later penned in a mini-series were published on Việt Nam New - Outlook magazine issues August, September and October last year won second prize of the national 2015 External Information Service Awards. Mrs. Morris shares with Việt Nam News some of the highlights of her journey.
|KM0 in Tân Kỳ, Nghệ An Province is the start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail Challenge; officially it is where one of the trails started during the war. — Photo courtesy of Virginia Morris.|
What was your motivation when you decided to take the Hồ Chí Minh Trail challenge?
My husband and I walked approximately 500 miles along the Hồ Chí Minh Trail in Laos in 1998-99. After that we always wanted to cycle the full Trail in Việt Nam and Laos, which is about 1,000 miles long. We still dreamed of this — even though we now have children — Bluebelle 6 and Albion 3. In April 2015 we achieved our wish and cycled hundreds of miles along the Trail as a family. In the future we want more people to do the Hồ Chí Minh Challenge.
So you explored the trials and learned about the lives of people who helped create the trails. What impressed you most?
The bravery of the people who operated along the Trail during the war: not only because of the war but also because of the heat and the shortage of water, food and medicine.
Please share with us some of your most memorable moments on the trails?
The Trail runs through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Việt Nam and Laos. I loved the forest, the striking mountains, the vast rivers and the remote feeling to the place. People were always happy to see our group and were very kind to us.
It was a long and challenging journey. Did you ever think of giving up? What kept you going and inspired you to finish the challenge?
Our group faced many obstacles. The bike we brought from the UK broke on the flight over, but we got it fixed. It broke again, so we purchased a local one but it did not have gears. When the mountains grew too steep, we walked. When it was too hot during the day, we rode at 4am. Nothing stopped us from finishing because we were honoured to see this part of history.
It is quite possible that in the future many adventure-seekers will take on the Hồ Chí Minh Trail challenge. What would you like to say to them as somebody who has “been there, done that”?
Do not just think of doing the Challenge – JUST DO IT. It will be one of the most amazing experiences of your life.
Is there a plan to revisit the country in the future or maybe another challenge to conquer? What other parts of Việt Nam would you like to see next?
I would like to revisit Việt Nam. But I do not know when. I have always wanted to see Điện Biên Phủ and to explore the historic site where the French empire imploded.
|One of many beautiful rivers in South Vietnam. — Photo courtesy of Virginia Morris.|