Vietnam Ride - Dec 2013: Hue - Da Nang - Nha Trang - Da Lat - Saigon

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Road Trip Reports' started by Goran Phuket, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    December 2013.
    Part of our "6 Nation Expedition" : Singapore - Malaysia - Thailand - Laos - Vietnam - Cambodia

    18 bikes - 22 participants from 6 different countries

    Short preview of things to come, will do the report over the weekend. Stay tuned.


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  3. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    We left Mukdahan (Thailand) 9am, crossed Friendship Bridge 2 and rode across Laos to Vietnamese border.

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    So here we are, Lao Bao checkpoint at Laos/Vietnam border. Our Vietnamese hosts were there waiting for us.

    Despite having all the paperwork in order it takes quite a while to clear all the formalities. Vietnamese authorities checked all our drivers licenses, chassis and engine numbers before letting us in.

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    Bananas galore....

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    Less than 5km into Vietnam and we see dead motorcyclist by the roadside....police, ambulance, crowd. Chilling reminder what to expect, hopefully not sign of things to come. Photo too graphic to be posted here.

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    Our first overnight stop in Vietnam: Hue Riverside Boutique Resort & Spa
    Right corner of the pic, one of our Vietnamese hosts.

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    Very nice acommodation

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    Resort right next to Perfume River

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    To be continued....
     
  4. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Between 1802 and 1945, Hue was the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. The city was the national capital until 1945, when Emperor Bao Dại abdicated and communist government was established in Hanoi.

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    Historical Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam. The grounds of the Imperial City are surrounded by a wall 2 kilometers by 2 kilometers, and the walls surrounded by a moat. The water from the moat is taken from the Huong River (Perfume River) that flows through Hue. This structure is called the citadel. Inside the citadel is the Imperial City, with a perimeter of almost 2.5 kilometers. Inside the Imperial City is the imperial enclosure called the Purple Forbidden City in Vietnamese, a term similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing. The enclosure was reserved for the Nguyen imperial family

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    Newly married Vietnamese couple within the forbidden city walls

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  5. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Leaving Hue and on our way to Da Nang.

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    On the way to Danang we have to go over Hai Van Pass. Its name refers to the mists that rise from the sea, reducing visibility. The twisting road on the pass has long been a challenge for drivers traveling between the cities of Hue and Da Nang. Since the completion of Hai Van Tunnel, traffic flow and safety have improved. The pass has been the scene of at least two of Vietnam's most serious rail accidents, and at least one air crash.

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    Tricky sections of the road

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    Thick fog appears, short stop to enjoy the view

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    At the pass summit: quite fresh and low visibility due to fog. Pics taken around noon.

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  6. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Enjoying the pictorial report.
    Did you go back over Hai Van Pass without fog? It makes for a wonderful ride.
     
  7. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Thanks Rod, lot more to come.
    No, unfortunately we didn't go back same way. Perhaps next time ;)
     
  8. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Vietnam is renowned for it's high quality coffee. Lots of specialty coffee shops along the way.

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    Just outside Da Nang

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    Lunch stop somewhere along the way

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    Food is quite good

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    Goodness me what a hell is this? Snake, sea horse....Wall Street Brand? No idea if it's shoe polisher, health elixir or liquor. Help me out here :wtf:

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  9. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Da Nang Arrival

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    Our overnight stop, Tourane Hotel. From here we will shuttle to historic Hoi An

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    Hội An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.

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    On the road towards Da Lat

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    Arriving to Da Lat, Best Western Da Lat Plaza

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    Fast Tommy....this guy rides like bat out of hell :thumbup:

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    One of our 4 Malay guys....

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    One of four Singapore oldtimers...they did well

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    Nice looking town and quite clean too.

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    Checking out local market place

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    Local skilful craftsmen

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    Excellent restaurant at the hotel. Funny, me and wife were the only guests. Rest of the entourage didn't even know about eatery situated on second floor.

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  10. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary, World Heritage UNESCO protected site. It is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa.

    Over 70 temples and tombs found at Mỹ Sơn have been dated to the period between the 4th century and the 14th century AD. However, the inscriptions and other evidence indicate that earlier now defunct constructions probably were present from the 4th century.

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  11. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Riding at night in Vietnam is the worst thing you could do. Take into consideration late departure thanks to couple of guys who think about themselves only, numerous stops wherever someone feels like it, horrible pot-hole ridden roads and remarkable ignorance of Vietnamese road users = you get the picture.

    Trips like these are exhausting, I understand. But drinking yourself to idiot until 3am and expecting to move on by 8am just doesn't work.
    You might ask, why did you bring so many riders along? Sure, to save on enormous costs for various permits, accommodation etc. But this was the first and last time unless I am traveling with old friends instead of meeting half of these folks for the very first time. My mistake, never to be repeated.

    Vietnamese road users are some of the most inconsiderate and ignorant people I ever seen. They will run you off the road when overtaking, I was forced to hit side road gravel multiple times in order to avoid collision with heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses. They just don't care. At night everyone drives with high-lights....there was a time when I was simply guessing which way to go due to be being blinded by headlights from oncoming traffic. I hit almost knee deep potholes so many times, till today I wonder how we didn't end up as roadkill. The impacts were so hard, at one time my center-stand fell off on middle of the "highway" in pitch dark. Stopped to look for it and in process risked being hit by passing vehicles who wouldn't even slow down let alone offer help. And to think most of us complaining about Thailand and the way they drive here.....Thailand is Disneyland compared to Vietnam, period.

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    Upon return to Phuket I had to discard my rims....both totally destroyed. Till today I can't figure how did we manage to get back home.
    Luckily bike insurance company covered the costs. I was not the only one affected, 2 more BMW GS fared even worse....wheels totally deformed.

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  12. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Finally we arrived to Nha Trang, at night. Dirty, thirsty, hungry, pissed....bikes falling apart lol...and this beautiful bustling city by the beach is in festive atmosphere. Just a few days before Christmas. Lots of nicely dressed locals and foreign tourists enjoying themselves and look at us.....felt like shit. Just wanted to hit the shower and scrub this dirt of me. To make matters worse, upon arrival to hotel they tell us we can't stay here!! Why? Organizer screwed up something and changed the hotel which is on other side of town. Everybody is pissed, swearing, nobody told us anything....finally we get to new hotel ad amazingly this replacement is much better than the original one. Everybody calms down.

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    Wife doesn't complain much though....for her it's Christmas already and she is in jovial mood.

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    Really don't feel like going anywhere, ordered room service and fell asleep like a log.

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    Morning, view from my room

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    Brekkie time

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    Came to Nha Trang and what you see above is what I saw.....not much.

    Let's move again...

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    But first let me get loaf of French bread. Nice little simple bakeries like these are all over the place

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    She is ready to go

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    Gotta get out of morning traffic jam asap

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  13. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    One of the true values of a forum such as this is to have reports telling it as it is; there's no need for the 'aren't I just having the best time' & overlooking imparting valuable information.

    Vietnam is a curious mix of some of the best riding & some of the worst road users in all Asia. I and others who write on this forum would agree that riding at night is not a good idea in Vietnam. I would add that riding riding hung-over in the day is also not a good idea - you need all your wits about you - day or night. The situation is complicated by the fact that the road authorities make little effort to sign-post dangers that await you - a death trap at night as Goran noted whilst locals will casually start drying crops or storing building materials on parts of the road unconcerned by the impact on road users & making no effort to inform them.

    That said I must say that I always found that the exhilaration flowing from the raw beauty of all that surrounded me in Vietnam outweighed the frustrations, the risk of perhaps seeing it for the last time.
     
    Goran Phuket likes this.
  14. A B Choy

    A B Choy Member

    vow great reports and beautiful pictures, worth the effort and hard works.
     
    Goran Phuket likes this.
  15. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    This looks like entering hell, says my wife thru blue-tooth communicator.
    She was so terrified by enormous motorcycle created traffic jams she forgot to take pics of juiciest moments. Simply incredible....nobody gives a damn, free for all. Everybody blasting horns, cutting in and out as they please, motionless facial expressions. And to make matters worse, my horn dies! In Saigon of all places in the world! The only way to draw attention to myself was to rev wildly and on few occasions scare the living daylight out of scooter riding locals. I would lie if I say I didn't enjoy those moments :twisted:

    About to enter Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). 9 million people, 4 million registered motorcycles. Even though government built dedicated motorcycle lanes it doesn't help much. Smog is enormous, diesel fumes and dust bringing me to choking point.

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    Waiting for your turn on roundabout? Forget it, just push it thru and rev like crazy. Road courtesy is unknown terminology here.

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    Got fed up with motorcycle lane and switched to car lane. Police looking at me in bewilderment and waving me to stop. I don't care....I am foreigner and know nothing....riding ahead and pretending I didn't see them. And this was done as per advice of our hosts riding with us.

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    Arrival to our hotel in downtown Saigon.

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    "Uncle Ho's" pic at prominent display in the hotel lobby.

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    5 star hotel baby! Hell yeah!!

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  16. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Will be staying in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) for 2 nights.

    First order of the day is to visit Cu Chi Tunnels.

    Been a while since I fired from mighty AK47....30 years ago to be exact during my compulsory military service. Sucker kept jamming, must have been first edition from 1947.

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    The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.

    Doc Suhaimy couldn't make it thru foxhole

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    But my wife fits in perfectly

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    Tunnel entrance

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    Very tight in there. Not for claustrophobic people or fat asses like myself

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    Guide explaining use of these weapons

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    Amazing ingenuity by NVA soldiers, some of the sickest traps I ever seen.

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    Life sized model of NVA soldier

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    The workshop: recycling UXO and shrapnels

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    Uncle Sam's tank

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  17. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Following day we went to see this unique temple: Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh

    Cao Dai is an attempt to create a perfect synthesis of world religions. It is a combination of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism, Geniism, and Taoism. Established in the Southern regions of Vietnam in the early 1920's, the religion was officially codified in 1926.

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    The real attraction is joint prayer performed every day at noon. Look at those tourists at the gallery above.

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  18. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Last day in Vietnam. Early morning, getting ready to proceed towards Cambodian border.

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    Our Vietnamese friends escorted us to the border where we bid farewell to each other. This concludes the report. Ride safe folks.

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  19. Wald0

    Wald0 Ol'Timer

    To people who decide to venture AH1 from Da Nang to Nha Trang.. DONT DO IT!! it might be shorter than HCM highway but at the monent it is just horrible! We missed one exit yesterday and where lazy to turn back and it was wrong move! Almost 11h and 500km just road construction site after another, and between them ashfalt that had been repaired way too many times.. To make things even worse we also drove half of that after dark. Haven't check rims yet, but tires and front shocks did take a beating.
     

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