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Vietnam on Harleys (5VE180A)

Saturday, March 17, 2018 | Manuel Marabese | Asia

Day 13: Halong Bay to Hanoi... Arrived!

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! 

An iconic group photo in front of the Harley Davidson dealer in Hanoi.
Some time for shopping while we return the dirty bikes...
And also last group photo with our local guide Thanh and our support vehicle driver Mr. Binh
Green market along Hanoi Old Town
Parking a scooter doesn't seem to be a difficult task here
And also some delightful old Buddhist Temples

Day 12: Lang Son - Halong Bay

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. 

A bit of wet roads as well today... Here posing with the new 2018 Edition Edelweiss tshirts
All fruit seems pretty much bio organic
What a chic hotel today! We are definitely in a touristy town..
And our boat for a private cruise along Halong Bay is ready!
So cosy on board, they have prepared a tasty seafood lunch for us
Admiring the thousands of karst islands...
Endless fascinating rocks and islands
Posing together with our local guide Mr. Thanh.. He is a great buddy, very knowledgeable and eager to help us
Have a good evening after this relaxing cruise

Day 11: Ba Be Lake - Lang Son

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! 

(photo: Edith)
(photo: Edith)
Endless green mountains...
This road was pretty bad... Tons of small stones and sand over the tarmac
Finally arrived at destination
Today it's a special day for Herbert: happy birthday
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)

Day 10: Ha Giang to Ba Be Lake

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. 

A Harley has rarely been so dirty..

Day 9: Sapa to Ha Giang 

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.

Look at those bad asses posing at the Chinese border!
A pretty parking spot at the Eco Lodge in Ha Giang

Day 8: Mu Cang Chai to Sapa

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.

A refreshing morning bathroom
Maybe we gotta switch to these light bikes today! "Espero", a Chinese-Vietnamese copy of the glorious Honda Win, one of the most common bike among locals. It goes everywhere.
Not much of a view from Tram Ton pass today, sadly.
Sapa is a very eclectic mix of styles...
Lots of local handicraft from the minority tribes
The gorgeous panorama over Sapa (photo: Franz)
Just outside the centre of Sapa, a gracious lake (photo: Franz)
The perfect wet-gloves dryer!

Day 7: Mai Chau to Mu Cang Chai

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!

Morning coffee stop at this Karaoke bar: the singing room is really impressive.
Quite a peculiar design this restaurant
Are we there yet? Almost... but first we need to go through "Harley Rally Pro Mode". This part of the road has been washed away completely three months ago and the reparation will need long time.
Meeting locals: I bet they have never seen a Harley on this road
Romantic view over the dam lake (photo: Edith)
Really a though road, but the panorama is gorgeous!
Finally arrived at destination!
Definitely a room with a view!
Have a good night under the thick blanket, it's cold outside!

Day 6: Vinh to Mai Chau 

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!

Not too much traffic on most of the route.
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)
(photo: Angela)
Life goes by with placid rhythm.
Really an idyllic place in Mai Chau valley... Have a good and relaxed sleep.
(photo: Angela)


Day 5: Phong Nah to Vinh

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!

Coffee stop near a small town-lake... with chairs getting smaller and smaller each day...
Sharing the narrow road among the rice fields with locals...
At Dong Loc junction we have time to learn more about the sad moments of recent Vietnamese history. Here 10 young girls were killed by a big bomb in 1968 while they were volunteering to repair the road bringing supplies to the south.
A local woman posing on our bikes... with Hansi playing passenger.
Checking in at a very "humble" hotel in Vinh... we are the only white foreigners here!
Maybe tomorrow we swap our support van with this Maybach...
Vinh: half a million people and 100 million led lights...

Day 4: Rest day in Phong Nha

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!

Day 3: Hue to Phong Nha

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.


The main sight today are the Vinh Moc tunnels, build by the local population in 1966 to protect themselves from the bombs.
The bridge demarcating the old border between north and south Vietnam, accordingly painted in two colours.
Idyllic landscape, similar to northern Laos.
And after dinner, some drinks in a cosy "backpacker bar" downtown.

Day 2 - Da Nang to Hue

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.

Small battery problem in the morning but the guys from Harley came immediately to replace the battery.
Back in Austria Edith and Angela ride the bikes themselves but for this tour they decided to take the passenger seat. Someone has to take those countless photos, right?
On the way up to the Hai Van Pass...
Some of the roads are fairly small today... so we can avoid the traffic of the main road AH1.
Time for lunch yeah! At this seafood restaurant the ingredients are really, really fresh... Actually still swimming once we got there.
Plenty of picturesque rice fields on the way to Hue, the imperial city.
Visiting Tu Duc tomb, the long-lasting emperor under the Nguyen dynasty.

Day 1 - Welcome to Vietnam! 

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!

Ready to roll on four Dyna Switchback!
Da Nang is really the perfect starting point for this trip: it offers amazingly inviting beaches to unwind and get rid of some jet lag...
... artistic sculptures...
... some modern architecture...
... and a very lively night scene!
Our bikes are ready to sleep....
And we go dinner "in style".
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Claudia Wenhart
Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 10:47

Hey Manu,
super Fotos und vor allem tolles Wetter. Hier ist es einfach nur grau die ganze Zeit.
Viel Spaß Euch und gute Fahrt.
LG Claudia
Manuel Marabese
Friday, March 9, 2018 at 15:46

Hallo Claudia danke dir!
Hier läuft alles gut!


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