Hanoi 11 day adventure Pt2

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Road Trip Reports' started by Deano747, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. Deano747

    Deano747 Ol'Timer

    I am sorry for the delay for the rest of this. I was (Insert any excuse here that will sound somewhat plausible and covers up the fact that I was just lazy). Got tied up with work, bought 2 new bikes and had to run them in, wrote a couple of articles for some magazines about the trip that have just been published so gave me the incentive to finish this.

    Wednesday the 4th. To Sa Pa. 130ish Kms.

    Breakfast this morning is down the road a bit and much more traditional. Soup noodles (but not Pho) with pork, and some accompaniments. It was in a restaurant that would have sat close to 100 people, full of locals on their way to work, and really really good. I had expected most of our breakfasts and lunches to be of this sort, but this tour included all meals, and when we stopped at prearranged spots for lunch, or went somewhere for dinner, it was already prepared and ready for us. So our diet was mostly BBQ’d chicken, pork, spring rolls, greens, rice. Not complaining mind you, it was all good. Breakfast was almost always in the Hotel, and what they thought Westerners would like.

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    Not a real lot to be said about the run today. Little misty in the morning, but fined up beautifully, and probably the best roads we travelled on the whole trip. QL 32 and QL 4D, not a whole lot of other choices up here.

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    Way too tight to get anything mechanical to do the work needed here.

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    The size of the boulders in this river was incredible.

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    We got a little split up, so we waited at this little crossroads town for a while waiting for the rest. Fortunately there was a store that sold our now staple diet of chocolate biscuits.

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    Lunch

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    Don’t know if this place was being renovated or torn down, but the pumps were still working

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    Oh, and the scenery.....what can I say

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    We arrived in Sa Pa just after noon, so a quick unpack and then the tourist stuff. Shopping for those ‘must have’ rip offs, and lunch. And proper coffee, I thought that there would be a lot of it around given the French influence, and the bread was very good, but expresso coffee was real hard to find, even in the large cities.

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    Dinner tonight was ‘cook your own’. Here our support vehicle driver is playing ‘Mum’

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    Tonight at the Holiday View Sa Pa Hotel.

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  3. Deano747

    Deano747 Ol'Timer

    Thursday the 5th. To Xi Man. 160ish Kilometers.

    Roadside trading is big here. locals do whatever they need to to make a living....no welfare here.

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    Trying to figure out the soap bubble blower thingy

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    First stop is Lao Cai, a big trading town on the border with China. We stop at the bridge for the obligatory photo, and a little puzzled to see only a little bit of foot traffic with no real guards. Maybe it is only open to vehicles at certain times? Not really interested enough to ask.....

    Vietnam this side, China the other.

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    Flamingo Travel also have a depot here, and this is where we part ways with ‘Scratch & Sniff’, our Hungarian joiner. He is handing his bike back to Flamingo and catching the night train back to Hanoi.

    We see traffic lights again, not that they seem to matter much, and we are keen to get away from the traffic again. We ride northeast for a while paralleling the border up to Bac Ha and finally our overnight stop in Xi Man.

    Lunch stop

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    The road from Bac Ha to Xi Man is described as both ‘magnificent and the worst road in Vietnam’, with the final descent into Xi Man as ‘very beautiful and yet challenging’. The terrain was certainly that, magnificient, and the road was certainly that, a rocky, potholed track and a half clinging to the side of the mountain. Cliff face on one side and a steep drop off the other. Don’t muck it up!

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    Little rocky in places

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    Little muddy in places. Ask Fred about this bit.........

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    There were also enough bends to satisfy the sports side of us, and the big suspension travel of our bikes was very welcome. We had thought initially the the small size of the motors would be limiting, but the road conditions limited speed anyway, so it was all well.

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    I didn’t actually have a speedo anyway............

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    Looking down into Xi Man

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    Tonight at the Gia Long Hotel.
     
  4. Deano747

    Deano747 Ol'Timer

    Friday the 6th. To Ha Giang. 150 kilometers.

    Flamingo advice for todays ride is ‘Lots of tortuous roads which give a great opportunity to test your riding skills’. After yesterday. Bring it On.

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    We suffer our first breakdown. A flat tyre on one of the Yamaha YBR’s. Theses bikes have done incredibly well as they really not designed for this. A small sliver of metal is found, a new tube is fitted and we are off.

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    We stop at our first waterfall, and discover that we like waterfalls with the road at the base level, not the top. We stop counting at the 100 step mark as it was too depressing to think about the climb back up. Fortunately, quite cool with the temperature in the high teens and not humid, so very comfortable walking weather.

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    By now we are so overwhelmed by the scenery that it becomes mundane. Spectacular, almost vertically sided Mountains everywhere with Karsts dotted in the lowlands between them.

    And there are kiddies to give stuff to. Graham tempting them with soap bubble blowing thingies....

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    A girl’s got to keep up with her gossip

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    Tonight at the Hoang Anh Hotel.
     
  5. Deano747

    Deano747 Ol'Timer

    Saturday the 7th. To Dong Van. 150kms.

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    Today we explore the areas of Quang Ba, Yen Minh and end up at our overnight stop in Dong Van.

    Girl has to look her best even if it is on the back of a bike carrying the weeks shopping

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    Mobile locksmith. Checkout the rack for the generator......

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    Spot the Westerner, we hardly saw any.....

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    Hmmmmmm

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    The road basically runs Northeast paralleling the Chinese border and is known as the ʻfrontier areaʼ. We need a pass to ride in this area for the next 3 days and this is obtained in Ha Giang before we leave.

    We took some costume jewelry along; big hit.

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    Local brew. Smoooooth

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    This is also very much mountain country, and we cross two decent size ones, and weave our way through another.

    Des would love this road.......

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    A little squeezy in places

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    We take a break at an information coffee shop where we climb up a set of stairs to take in a spectacular view point of Quang Ba. Again the haze disappoints, but in order to get clear, we would have rain, so we take the haze.

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    After lunch at Yen Minh town, we visit Pho Bang, which was built many centuries ago and features multi-storey houses made of clay bricks and tiled roofs. We stop at the infamous Vuong Palace of Vuong Chi Sinh, who was purported to be the H'mong King in Vietnam during the time of French colonial rule. This palace is architecturally interesting due to its mixed style of European and Chinese architecture, but the item that takes me the most is the stone bath in the open courtyard where it was said that the Queens (yes, plural) would take their baths in milk.

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    The bikes are getting a good workout through all this as we contend with not only the sheer ruggedness of the countryside and the roads, but also the occasional landslip.

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    Tonight in the Hoa Cuong Hotel.

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  6. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Hey Deano, what a trip, great photos mate.

    Im sure the local drop was far from smooooth. lol

    Just love the Vietnamese's riding boots.
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    Great report, thanks for putting it.

    Moto-Rex
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Whoa there, nice trip alright, possibly through the best m/c touring route in Vietnam - ???
    You guys certainly had a good cool time.

    I'd particularly liked these pics.

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    Standing out there wondering where the hell are we?

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    the beauty of exploring North Vietnam off-road

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    Cruising through dramatic scenery on a sweet winding road.

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    Classic Viet / Asian Hotel Shophouse accommodation.

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    ok it was only the shirt.

    And this is the winner

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    beautiful.

    Great trip & report.
    Mega thanks for finishing it off too.
     
  8. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Fantastic stuff Deano.

    Lovely.. Makes me want to go back.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  9. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    It makes one wonder why people wish to ride in Myanmar (sorry Brian & Neil, personal choice, but even Laos) when you have Vietnam at your doorstep! Vietnam is sensational!

    Some good advice on the wisdom of having a support team - people would not realise that you can ride into a town & find no-where to eat & a massive problem if you don't speak the lingo, same difficulty with breakdowns, emergencies, etc (even hospitalisation as a report on this site attests).....& on it goes. The wisdom in having bikes in good working order (Flamingo), an insight into 'a good time to travel' &, let's not leave out the coffee tip - funny thing when you realise that Vietnam is the world's second biggest producer of coffee. Coffee nuts should head to the area around Buon Ma Thuot - the black sticky stuff is pure magic!

    Half your luck. Well done.
     
  10. Deano747

    Deano747 Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the replies.

    I will finish off the last couple of days when I get home and have more to work with than just the phone:)

    Dean.
     

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