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Sparring with Charlie: Motorbiking Down the Ho Chi Minh Trail

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Sparring with Charlie: Motorbiking Down the Ho Chi Minh Trail tells the story of Christopher Hunt, who flew to Vietnam in 1994 to corral a few choice experiences for a novel. His goal was to traverse the 1,700-kilometer length of Vietnam’s notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail, the supply route of the Vietcong. He set off on a decrepit Russian motorcycle, packing only essentials (including extra socks and a handy flashcard with the phrase ”Which way to the Ho Chi Minh Trail?” in Vietnamese). Of course, it all went terribly wrong: Even before he crossed a bridge at the trail’s beginning, the road had evolved from a ”patchwork of loose gravel and buckled pavement” into a ”slalom course of mud, dirt, and jagged rock.” Ultimately, the journey’s goal eluded Hunt, but it hardly matters. Tales of zonked-out vets, an awestruck kid nearly falling off his water buffalo at the sight of this lone Caucasian, and waitresses of devastating beauty make his loss our gain. A