They partly aim to visit a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Four Indian women have set foot in Vietnam during a motorbike trip starting off in their home country which has taken them through several South Asian nations.
The four-member team includes Jai Bharathi, 36, the leader; Piya Bahadur, 42; Susan Shanti, 35; and Shilpa Balakrishnan, 44.
The bikers reached the Na Meo border gate in Thanh Hoa Province, north-central Vietnam, on March 10.
They have spent 30 days covering a route of around 7,200 kilometers traversing India, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos before arriving in Vietnam, where they plan to stay for a week.
Their purpose is to visit 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in these countries while promoting the image of India’s 35 UNESCO sites.
The quartet traveled to two of Vietnam’s UNESCO heritage locations of the Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province – an eastern neighbor of Thanh Hoa Province – and Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, two days after their arrival.
The women had a positive impression of Vietnam at first sight.
“Right at the border gate, I saw some Vietnamese people. They greeted and said ‘Hi, welcome to Vietnam!'’’ said Shilpa Balakrishnan.
“At a small market not too far from the border crossing, lots of hands waved at us along the roadside. They’re really friendly and lovely,” she continued.
The greatest difficulty for a woman to ride long distances involves health, she said.
“During this trip, we’ve run on lots of roads, and crossed many rivers. The weather was very fickle, one minute it’s hot, another it’s cold. It’s hard for the body to adapt,” she added.
“That’s why we’ve tried to stay as healthy as possible. That’s one of the ways to make us stronger."
Another member, Jai Bharathi, said the team started gearing up for the international journey in July 2017, and has encountered few road problems.
She hoped their ride underlines opportunities for safe tourism for Indian women, commenting that a number of locals were surprised to know that all the bikers are female.
Piya Bahadur offered a piece of advice for would-be globetrotters that careful preparations should be made on international driving licenses, the itinerary, and papers of vehicle ownership, for different countries have their own requirements and procedures.
A member of noteworthy family backgrounds is Piya Bahadur, who is the mother of two children, and a daughter of Naresh Bahadur, a veteran biker on an odyssey from Bombay to Paris with his six partners back in 1979.
She wishes to inherit the legacy of the long-distance expedition bequeathed by her father.
The four women had a talk with the Indian Embassy in Vietnam.
Their next destinations in Vietnam are southward, including Vinh City in Nghe An Province; Thua Thien-Hue Province, where royal citadels and premises are located; Quang Nam, with an area called My Son where extant Hindu temples sit; and Kom Tum Province, in the Central Highlands.
A different quartet of Indian women, Biking Queens, also visited Vietnam in July 2016 in their 10-country trip to spread the message of woman empowerment and education.