In January 1952, the then 23-year-old Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and his biochemist friend, Alberto Granado, left Buenos Aires on a single-cylinder 1939 Norton 500cc motorbike to explore South America.
The 8,000km journey had a profound impact on Guevara, who had been born to an upper-middle-class family. Encountering first-hand poverty, exploitation, illness and suffering, it created a political and social awakening that led him to fight and die for the cause of the poor, and dream of a united Latin America. He became one of the best-known guerrilla leaders in history.
During our own road trips we have covered just half that amount — 4,000km — yet our travels have taken us the length and skinny breadth of Vietnam. While we have encountered experiences both good and bad, exhilarating and frustrating, we can promise that not one of us has returned a revolutionary.
This is not to detract from our own little feat, from the very northern tip of this country to the very far southeast is quite a journey. So, we split it up into parts, each writer and photographer taking on a section all of their own.
But like Che Guevara we all experienced something profound — the elation and freedom of being on the open road.
In the 1950s Jack Kerouac crossed and re-crossed America by car. It induced him to pen one of the most influential novels of the last century, On The Road. Our own stories won’t be nearly as significant and not one of us is a beatnik, but we hope they will make you think.
Parts of this country are stunningly beautiful. Yet to see it you need to get out there and leave the city behind. It’s worth every breakdown, every bit of discomfort to your behind, every downpour and every kilometre of wanting a hot shower or a place just to lie down and relax.
We know. Because we’ve been there, done it, and have survived to tell the story.
So here in all its glory we present to you, The Motorcycle Diaries.
To read the articles in this story, please click on the following links: