Last ride in Vietnam today... It hasn't been a leisurely cruise along some sweeping roads but rather a challenging yet fascinating journey across the north of Vietnam. Now that's all over we have a sense of nostalgia for the laid back landscape of rice terraces and tea plantations.
Thank you for joining us in this travel... Let's enjoy our last evening together in Hanoi!
We are slowly leaving the mountains behind us, progressing through a hilly landscape with still a considerable amount of curves. The ride is not too long though, so we can check in at the hotel before lunch, leaving plenty of time for an afternoon cruise in the scenic Halong Bay.
It's time to criss cross the last mountain range before reaching again the lower lands and continuing our journey towards the coast. Getting out of the lake area requires some efforts, riding those big beasts on not so perfect pavement. But we made it!
We had to drastically change our route today (and also the overnight place) because a long stretch of the planned route is not accessible anymore. We went through some remote and scenic rain forest into the Ba Be national park, spending the night at the shore of the lake.
The morning doesn't seem a "Good morning" at all, with thunders and heavy rain since 6am..But just when we start riding and we descend the mountain road to Lao Cai it stops! And once in the valley it became even warm! Today's ride has been great, cruising amidst rice terraces, tea plantations, orange orchards and lots of small villages.
The night was fairly cold and rainy... and the morning still is rainy and fairly cold. We are not very fortunate with the weather these days: in this season the temperature is usually much warmer, and the sun shines. Hey up there, what's happening? Give us back some sun for the next days!
In the meantime, we start our ride as it is, moving among stunning scenery of terraced rice fields and tea plantations. In the late morning we start climbing up the Tram Ton Pass, the highest paved road in Vietnam at 2.035 m. Shortly after the pass, the sky clears up gving us a glimpse of the beauty of the valley where Sapa is situated. We can enjoy then a relaxed afternoon walking around this very lively and fairly touristy town up on the Vietnamese mountains.
What a day! We went though quite a few challenges in the second part of the route, but let's start from the beginning! First we followed the main road across the valley to Son La, where we had lunch a in a very interesting wedding restaurant Then the fun started! After Muong La the road was... well it was not a road anymore! Three months ago a flood destroyed it all and the reconstruction is a long work in progress.. Have a look at the photos... but we made it!
Leaving coastal Vietnam, we move inland towards more rural areas. Wide roads and tall buildings leave space to a much different landscape, where water buffalos are taking a stroll along (and sometime in the middle of) the road. Not only cars and scooters here, but also kids on bycicles and some horse carts here and there. Tonight we will literally sleep among rice fields!
After a very laid back and fairly rainy day yesterday, today we wake up dry! Yeah, the cold front from the north is passing by and soon we will enjoy some sunny days again. In the meantime we keep moving north, riding the curvy and idyllic Road 15 (the Ho Chi Minh Highway) towards Dong Loc Junction, a famous place for its sad history during the Vietnam War. After spending some time among those monuments we continue towards the city Vinh, half a million people and at least 100 million led lights!
Relaxing day today, we are going by boat to visit Phong Nah cave with a leisurely ride under the rain... but who cares, inside the cave there is no rain!
In the afternoon Manuel and Franz decided to take the Harleys for a loop around the park, riding up and down surrounded by wet jungle... fantastic!
A longer ride today, parlty along the coast this morning, passing through some very small and quiet villages, stoppping to admire the grandeur of the local tombs. Here many families conduct a very humble life, saving for building a shrine for the ancestors once they pass away.
In the afternoon we ruise on the winding Ho Chi Minh Highway and we end our ride in Phong Nah, a wonderful park hiding in the underground the greatest cave complex of the world.
On our first ride we will go through quite a few highlights.. Starting with the morning light traffic and Vietnamese concept of roundabouts. As soon as we leave the city we move on towards the Hai Van Pass, only 496m high but still along a very scenic road.
Leaving the freezing temperatures of Europe these days and landing in a 30°C tropical climate is quite a change! We start this new motorcycle tour of Vietnam in Da Nang, a fast growing coastal city in Central Vietnam. Tour leader Manuel is having a very, very small group for the motorcycle handover: only Franz from Germany made it on time, while the four friends Hansi, Angela, Herbert and Edith from Austria are landing a bit later, still on time to join us for dinner!