Sunday, March 26, 2023 | Ted Goslinga | Asia
Finally, after being in concept a couple of years, and a non-riding period during the Covid-19 period, we are happy to introduce to you the Edelweiss Adventure Indochina tour! This tour will take us through a big part of Indochina. Starting off in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, in the northern region. Then we will ride in western direction and enter the second country on this tour: Laos.
Staying here for a full week visiting the most beautiful and interesting places of this beautiful part of South East Asia.
For the last couple of days we will enter Vietnam again and finish the tour in the southern part of Vietnam: Da Nang!
Looking forward to ride with a great group of experienced riders !
Stay tuned for this daily blog through Indochina !!
Today the whole group has arrived and is complete. The bikes are ready to roll and are awaiting a great adventure tour. Most of the tour memebers are here already for one or more days to get rid of their jetlag and/or explore this huge city and surroundings.
In the afternoon we will have the welcome briefing , the handover of the motorcycles and following that we will have a welcome dinner at the roof top restaurant of our hotel in downtown Hanoi!
..And the first riding day in Vietnam is a fact!
This morning we started in Hanoi with a comfortable temperature into the very dense traffic. But this group are all experienced guys and so we had zero problems to go out of this huge city with almost 10 million people in it and about 5 millon mopeds !
But after a 50 minutes we were more or less out of town. Getting used to the bike and the habits of the traffic participants, the group quickly adaped to it all.
Riding along the Song Hong or Red River, we made our way in western direction and after lunch we soon found ourselves in between the fresh green rice fields or paddies. What a fertile country this is. Everywhere is ricefields, banana trees and all the mountian hills are pavd with tea plants.
So a great moment to have the camera's out!
At the lunch it was time to get into the real Vietnamese menu. Luckily our local guide Thanh translated the menu and ordered some great food for us. A bit struggling for some to eat with the chopsticks but that is also part of the adventure !
After the lunch we slowly went more into the hills and lower mountian area's
Great riding day that was concluded with a nice local dinner close to our hotel.
Tomorrow up into the high mountains!
What a fantastic riding day today!. The ride today was mainly through the Hoang Lien valley, which holds the most beatiful views at the rice paddies. As far as you can see it shows rice paddies, mountiain hills full of tea and banana trees. And throught that all a great road to ride. Numerous villages with mainly Hmong people who wear very colourful clothing which they make and embroid themselves.
And that was obvious because for the first time here we saw more (foreign) motorcycle groups going up the famous Tram Ton pass, which is the highest road in Vietnam. More breathtaking views and at the end of the afternoon we arrived in our very nice and comfortable hotel where we had a nice dinner and some good wine. All together a day we will not forget
And so the third riding day comes almost to an end. What a fun riding it is in this beautiful part of Vietnam. Ended up yesterday a little less than 35 km from the Chinese border, today we went slowly more in south/southwestern direction towards the Laos border. Started this morning as it happens often in Sapa, in a thick mist, but already on the edge of town, it suddenly cleared out and stayed that for the rest of this superb riding day. up untill lunch there was still quite some traffic but after our nice and peacefull lunch net to a swimming pool with a well, we took a southern direction and followed for about 160 km the river. A great road to ride with a zillion of curves!
Around 5 pm we finally reached the old battle grounds of the First Indochina war in Dien Bien Phu. For this moment the last city we will stay in Vietnam for a week. Tomorrow morning we will cross the border with Laos and follow the adventure through this country. Looking forward to it!
Very unfortunately today, due to an incomprehensible decision of an overzealous head of customs, we were not allowed to bring our motorbikes out of Vietnam to Laos. This meant, that despite of trying everyting on scene and behind the scenes, our tour will not go through Laos. So we went back to Dien Bien Phu and during the day we rerouted the tour and composed a new part in Vietnam. Unfortunately these things can also happen on these tours and are also part of the adventure!!
But after a couple of hours of dissapointment, the group was picking up the good adventure mood again, and we were cheering up with a local football team in our restaurant !
So no riding pictures today!
Tomorrow more about the new routes!
So we started this morning unexpected not from somewhere in Laos, but from our last hotel in Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam.
As we said yesterday, our tour has been rerouted and will take entirely place in Vietnam. So clutches out at 08.30 and headed back in easterly direction. We had a fantastic route through a breathtaking scenery with countless curves and switchbacks. Visiting a brandnew Buddha statue with some incredible viewing points the good mood was completely back !
Ending the day in a very nice and authentic ecolodge with a well prepared dinner and a cold beer concluded this day (back) in Vietnam
Waking up this morning with a splendid view over the rice paddies below us with the sound of the roosters: that's the real life in Vietnam. !
First part of rhe day was a great ride through the mountains. And what we noticed was a huge amount of Hmong and Thai people going somehwere on their mopeds. So we found out that it was the first day of a five day festival of flowers. And what an attraction are we as a group with big bikes! Everywhere people waving at us, want to sit on our bikes and getting pictures with the 'european giants'!!
after lunch we moved another 130km in easterly direction to end up in a lovely small villa resort in Mai Chau where we had a well deserved beer and not to forget: the celebration of Dietmar's birthday who was surprised by the hotelstaff with a beautiful fireworks cake. Happy Birthday Dietmar!!
After riding a lot of miles during the last day, we had a bit of a relaxed riding day today. About 160 km to go, so that means that we have some time off today to relax a litlle bit, having a massage , some swimming or, as we did, take a rowing boat and go down a beatiful river in the awesome scenery of this amazing country of Vietnam.
The city of Tam Coc is situated on a lake which runs through caves and ricefields. There are plenty tourists here because of the amazing walking- and biking trails.
Nice day concluded with a fine dinner at our cozy hotel!
Finally (but unexpected...), we reached the coastline of Vietnam. This morning we left Tam Coc to visit a very nice Pagode which is half in the mountain. First monks lived here already in 1428. Very peaceful place to visit. After that we had a less peaceful experience: riding on the QL1 road downthe coastline!! It'a some experience to see how all the traffic, and that means everything between big trucks and smalll mopeds with enormous amounts of luggage on it, merge into some kind of system !!
Today 's ride was all about the former Vietminh/ Vietcong leader and later president of Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh. Leaving our fantastic new hotel at the coast near the city of Vinh, we rode east to the small place of Kim Lien. This village is the place of birth of 'uncle' Ho. Our Vietnamese guide Thanh told us a lot about the life of this remarkable man an of course we visited his house and his neighbourhood. In the meanwhile the temperature outside was already over 32 degrees celsius so it was time to move on. Soon we found the amazing Ho Chi Minh road which has a complete other scsnery than in the North Vietnamese mountains : way more subtropical vegetation with also subtropical temperstures: soon we were reaching 40 degrees with a hot tropical wind through our helmets. Time for refreshents!
After lunch we visited a mountain hidden cave along the Ho Chi Minh trail which was used by the Vietcong as a place to hide men and materiel and was also a signal station with telephone connections and HF radios. Very interesting day that ended in Phong Nha where we will stay two nights
Today we have a very well earned rest day. Last week we rode a lot of miles and today is a perfect day to visit the cooler caves of Phong Nha with a boat, since it is again a very hot day.
The boat with two older , but steong ladies, took us for the first 45 minites down into the national park on the Song Con river.
then the ladies stopped the engine and one was rowing the big boat on the fromt deck with only one paddle !!
The Phong Nha cave is a truly amazing cave complex which goes deep into the earth. Beautiful formations caused by the dripping water were made during millions of years
The rest of the day we decided to spend at the poolside, which makes it absolutely a real rest day !!
Gooood morning again Vietnam!
After our refreshing rest day, good food and a good atmophere, we were ready this morning to ride again. Air temperature shows us already 33 degrees celsius at 9 am so time to get some riding wind through our jackets and helmets. Highlight of the day were the former Vietcong tunnels at Vinh Moc near the coast. A very impressive area with a complete network of tunnels which protected the people from bombing by the American Airforce during the Vietnam war. Incredible as the people made the tunnels all with simple tools. About 60 families have lived there underground. Even about 17 babies were born in the tunnels. We decided also to have a lunch there and after that we rode in one stretch towards out hotel in Khe San, about half an hour from the Laos border
Here in Vietnam it is almost impossible to ignore all the Vietnam war sites and museums and other sites which were important for the end situation for the countries involved. Today right after breakfast we visited the former Ta Con airforce base close to the city of Hue. Close to the Laos border and so the Ho Chii Minh trail and the DMZ, it was a very important hub in the war. It was very interesting that we've been here, since it gives an good feeling how iT must have been there at that time.
Since the outside temperature already rose again towards 37 degrees, it was time to saddle up again. Followed the Ho ChinMinh road again we enjoyed again the breathtaking scenery here.
The last stretch took us into the lively city of Hue!
And so this very special tour came to an end today. In the very nice city of Hué we start it in the morning by hopping into the taxi for a short ride to the imperial city of Hue. This was built as a playground for the kings, who lived here. Although a big part of it was bombed during the Vietnam war, there are still big parts where you can visit. After that, we hopped on the bike for the last track of this too week tour in this beautiful country. We stayed at the coastal route, which gave us a little bit of a seabreeze during these Hot days. And then suddenly we are in Da nang, a very lively city with again, millions of scooters everywhere. After dropping off the bikes at the rental shop, we had it for our beautiful seaside hotel to have a cold bootbeer. And then it was time to say farewell to this excellent group of riders. Thank you, Günther, Dietmar, Alfred, Robert and of course our Vietnam guide Thanh for this unforgettable experience !! Hope to see you all on a next tour somewhere on the globe!