South East Asia

Journey to the South, stopping at Hoang Mai

Hanoi

Yeah! Finally! The start of my awesome motorbike adventure to Flipside Hostel, Ho Chi Minh City from Flipside Hostel, Hanoi by doing the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Ho Chi Minh Trail…Is…Just wow, such a mind blowing, spectacular, awesome, amazing and beautiful road to go on. And it is heaven for motorbike riders and wanting to travel to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, or even anything along the way.

I bought my motorbike from such a good reputable motorbike shop, called “Hanoi Motorbike Adventure” And they have got pretty decent and reliable motorbikes either to sell or for rent. They treat you like friends, and not as a customer, which really amazed me. They are such good bunch of friendly, kind and caring people and offered you free beers which is lovely, having a good conversation with them about anything from sports to our cultures. They will also provide helmet, map of Vietnam, extended luggage rack and bike chain to secure your bike for parking. And they always will be there for you while you are traveling down south to Ho Chi Minh City, and they message me around twice a week which is a nice touch.   Hanoi Motorbike Adventure, if you are reading this, I want to say thank you!

Motorbike on beach
My motorbike

Hanoi, what can I say about Hanoi…Hanoi is an awesome city, but trying to get out of Hanoi is so crazy! I started my journey at 7am, thinking I will miss the rush hour, but I was wrong! It is sooooooooooo busy! Took me ages, approximately around 30 minutes to get out! I have witnessed two crashes, it is mainly between cars and motorbikes! So always use your horn, it is your life saver! To warn them and get them out of your way! Horn is your best friend in Hanoi or even in any major cities in Vietnam if you want to stay alive! I know I used it a few times! Always keep your eyes open! Don’t even blink!

Mai Chau

Journey to Eco Homestay, took me around 3 hours and 30 minutes from Flipside Hostel, Hanoi and it is approximately 140 km (87 miles), it is an alright drive, but nothing special about it, since I had to get onto a highway, but not on the highway itself, no motorbikes are allowed there. But there is a road right next the highway for motorbikes. It was dull driving there and boring, but afterwards when I got on QL6 road, it was a more pleasant ride, and seeing lot’s of mountains along the way and just enjoying the scenery, the wind  on my face and sun warm on my back. I went on Ho Chi Minh trail for a little while as it was faster, since, I wanted to get to Mai Chau as quick as possible and just relax.

While, I stayed in Mai Chau for 3 nights, I had a wonderful time staying there, the family who owned the homestay was so lovely, kind and caring. I ate their food, home cooked meals for 3 nights, it was such good food. It is well worth the money. You get a free breakfast for staying with them which is a nice touch along with amazing Vietnamese coffee. I met interesting people who stayed there, ranging from Colombians to Czech Republic and English,  Jarmila and Will (Sorry Colombians I can’t remember your names!)  and we played a few card games. On the 2nd day, I went for a ride around Pu Luong, seeing the views was just breathtaking and seeing the sights, and how Vietnamese people live. On that day I rode for nearly 4 hours and lost track of time because I was enjoying it so much, but needed to get back to the homestay before nightfall, driving at night can be really dangerous because sometimes you may not see potholes and no time to swerve out of the way.

On the last day, I decided to wander around the local area by walking, But you can borrow a bicycle from the family to move about easy, but I chose to walk. I was amazed to see many Rice Paddies,  Vietnamese women were working  the paddy fields, and no sight of any men . I went to a cave, called Hang Chieu, to get there, you have to climb 1002 steps! I took a few  photos while I was there, the photos unfortunately were not very clear, that’s why I haven’t put any photos up.

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Tamcoc, Ninh Binh

Journey to Tamcoc Riverview Homestay, Ninh Binh, took me a good 3 hours and 30 minutes and around 142 km ( 89 miles). It was a pretty good smooth ride all the way, a pleasant ride and sunny. Not a single drop of rain! I did not use the Ho Chi Minh Trail at all, since it will take me even longer to get there, an extra 1 hour 30 minutes.  I found it not worth the fuel and time. But the views while riding was pretty awesome and still a pleasant drive.

On the day I got to Tamcoc, I met my friend, Gabriel who I met recently at Hanoi he came from Hanoi, while I was riding from Mai Chau, we decided to ride to Da Nang via the Ho Chi Minh Trail, we arranged to meet up with Marco who joined us the next day, from Hanoi (who we all met at the Flipside Hostel). Now there are three of us, British, American and Canadian on the road around Vietnam, like top gear  (I’m obviously the good looking one) and we will be going to Hai Van Pass soon to get us to Da Nang. Along with our motorbikes.

The Riverview homestay is located next to the  river or lake. Is it a Lake or river? After couple of minutes having a discussion with Gabriel, we still have no idea which it is Staying at Riverview homestay is so cheap, cost around £5.35 per night, and that is included breakfast which is pretty decent. You get fried egg, cheese, bread, pancake and their homemade marmalade, that marmalade tastes so awesome. I know my late grandad, Poppas would have  loved that marmalade so much. Marmalade was my grandads favourite food, more than anything. Every morning, he used to have a really thick slice toast with lashings of marmalade for breakfast as well as supper.

So let’s get back on topic of what I did, or we did, along with Claudi and Bianca (Two lovely and kind Germans that I met at Phuket, Thailand). We went to Trang An, along with Gabriel, Marco, Pra and Thomas as well as with Claudi and Bianca also know as Bi Bi for half a day which is the “38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha” (Yes I did use that words from google) Trang An is a boat cave tour and it is cost 200,000 Dong (£6.73) if you want to do the full tour, which we did  it is well worth the money, the views are just, wow…Breathtaking and we were guided by two lovely Vietnamese women . My god, these  women are very strong, paddling the boat all day and they are not even tired. (Women power!) The tour is so breath taking. There are many wonderful, amazing sights throughout the tour and going through the caves. Seeing temples, King Kong Island (They did the movie at Trang An for King Kong) Trang An is a place  definitely not to be missed. Mother nature is beautiful in Trang An.

 

Everything we did at Tamcoc, Ninh Binh has just been amazing. Doing it with friends makes things even more amazing and sharing memories together. We also went to Hang Mua to the top of the mountain and again, the view are just…Wow and so breezy! And cost around 100,000 Dong which is £3.37

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Half way on the steps
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3/4 way on steps to the top
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At the very top

 

 

Hoang Mai

After Ninh Binh in the morning, the three of us, Gabriel,  Marco and I along with our motorbikes made our journey to the south, a little town called Hoang Mai which is right on the beach. Took us approximately 6 hours via Ho Chi Minh Trail and around 250km (155 miles) That ride was spectacular.

Once we got there, we found a hotel for a reasonable price. Gabriel went out for a smoke and asked to see where we could get a bottle of spirits, which cost us £3.31 which is pretty decent, and we quickly drank it all, but we suspected that it may have been watered down as it was a weak vodka. only 29% prof.  Marco and Gabriel decided to wander and see if they could find another bottle while I, stayed in the hotel to do my blog. Marco came back to get me as they had found a place for us to drink, once I went to the restaurant, my god, these Vietnamese guys went crazy and wild when they met us, challenging for arm wrestling and giving us food, sadly none of these dared to ask me for arm wrestle, only Gabriel and Marco. They are scared of me, haha! They have said, that bottle of vodka was supposed to cost  £1.35 for a bottle! We had been ripped off, but it was still cheap compared to the prices back home in England. Afterwards, we went to the most crazy karaoke bar I have ever seen with so many strobe lights.

 

I really need to use my camera more than my phone to take these awesome photo’s!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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