Motorbiking Vietnam : Day 20

Start of trip || < || >

For details of the places I visited in Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, with GPS Coordinates, see my book Vietnam Caves.

For details on motorbiking in Vietnam and Cambodia, from buying and selling a motorbike, to border crossing, see my book Motorbiking Cambodia & Vietnam.


Having arrived early the morning off the train from Hanoi. I walk the 2 1/2 km to the hotel I stayed in when I first visited Saigon. Last time when I stayed at the Backpacker Club, they wanted $15 a night. Knowing that it is always cheaper booking online, I told them then that the online price was $12. They then agreed to drop the walk in price and let me stay for $12 a night including breakfast. (Tip, walkin prices are almost always higher than booking online due to you already being in the place and less likely to walk out. I have actually negotiated hotels down in price by showing them the online booking price and told them frankly if they do not give me the same deal I will just make a booking now online, even when I had no internet connection. The online bookings was a screencap picture I took when I had internet.)

So I got the same deal again, and the same room, 5th floor. Suits me as it is quieter. All I wanted to do at this point was get a shower. It’s been about 52 hours or more since I last showered, mmm, I normally take two a day.

Get to my room, and there are no toiletries. Good thing I took the unused small soap and hair shampoo from the previous hotel. The hair shampoo is one of those small sample hair shampoo packages, that either leaks in your suitcase, or is bomb proof in opening. It has a picture of a girl with long black hair on the front, and writing I do not understand.


Struggle as I may, I just cannot get the package ripped open. In the end, I bite on the edged and tear a piece off, almost ripping my tooth out. It is funny that this package is made by Unilever, a company I used to work for, years back in my IT days. The shampoo tastes crap, but hey, I got it open. I squeeze the contents of the package in my hand, and look worrying at it. It is pitch black with some silver traces in. Is this shampoo or hair dye, or shampoo with hair dye in? I decide that o well, if it is dye, then I am just going to have black hair for a while.

The shampoo does color my hair a bit darker, but does not change it black, nor do I get the long hair shown on the packaging, mmmm, false advertising.

I get a few hours rest, then go and find Simon from Saigon minks. My bike is supposed to arrive today, but i have decided i will go to the train station tomorrow to check myself. I find Simon at the Mexican restaurant he loves to hang out, and i squeeze some more information from him for my book. The time flies, and soon it is bed time.

Motorbiking Vietnam : Day 3

Start of trip || < || >

For details of the places I visited in Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, with GPS Coordinates, see my book Vietnam Caves.

For details on motorbiking in Vietnam and Cambodia, from buying and selling a motorbike, to border crossing, see my book Motorbiking Cambodia & Vietnam.


Having had an okay rest, the other hotel’s bed was far softer, and they had a bath, I finally decide to get out of bed at about 7:30. Basically because my stomach is growling. Wow, i see a trend here, i get up, and stop riding when my stomach tells me so, i am a slave to it ha ha ha. Okay, i love food.

Head over to the restaurant next to the hotel again, and order some breakfast.

hot breakfast, vietnamHa ha ha, just kidding. Although i was temped, but since i still cannot get them to understand “milk” i did not dare. Every time i try to get milk, they either bring condense milk ( that is nice, but would not help for the burn), or i give up.

The hotel receptionist also runs a store next to the hotel, so i head over and ask her for my passport, that she kept in her pocket ready for me. I pay her for the room, then go to get my motorbike out of the lobby. The security guard put a plank the night before on the steps, and I rode the bike up over the steps, into the hotel lobby. This morning we just free wheel the bike down.

As i pack my backs, the guard asks me in Vietnamese (understood from sign language) for cigarettes for looking after bike the night. (if he really was there i have no idea). I indicate that i do not smoke, and then he shows to my wallet indicating i must now give him money to buy smokes. I give in (i hate smoking) and give him 10K vnd, having no idea what cigarettes cost. He is very disgusted and mumbles about something, i probably insulted him. So i give him another 10K vnd (21K vnd is US$1). Now suddenly he is my best friend and shakes my hand, funny.

I point the bike in the direction of the next town, and go for it. Along the way, i find a cop riding on a motorcycle, and decide i am going to follow his speed as my speedo stopped working. (I think the speedo cable either broke or pulled out by the instrument cluster as i can hear it sometimes turning there.) We make good time, then suddenly he slams on the brakes, so i do the same. Funny, there is a speed trap up ahead, with a tow truck again, ready to take your motorcycle away. This time i have my leather jacket on, so there is no mistake that i am a tourist, so we just fly past. Others gets pulled over and their papers checked.

The cop later on takes a side road, so i find a bus to follow. (yeh i could take out my GPS to see the speed, but who cares?) We make good time (as just about everything gets out of the way for a bus, easy riding). We round a sharp bend, and suddenly smoke pours out from the busses back wheels, as i start reading the engine number on the bus, i decide is should probably slam on the brakes as well. The bus comes to a screeching halt, with its hooter honking. Not being able to see what is going on, i wait. Then, a car passes the bus slowly, and the bus starts to pull away, but crosses over to the other lane.

Only when the bus totally crosses over to the other lane, do i see what is going on. A bicycle is parked on its side stand, in the middle of my lane. The owner of said bicycle, is sitting across the road at a small cafe, having breakfast, laughing at the consternation he is causing. It takes all kinds.

Soon i am mostly alone on the road.

saigon to hanoi road, vietnam

mountains in the distance, saigon to hanoi, vietnam
Mountains in the distance, soon i will take you on.

Not long, and i come to a large bridge, with a very nice view of a river.

large bridge, vietnam

train railway in distance, vietnamSee the train railway in the background.

river view, vietnam

Very soon, the road starts to go uphill, and snakes a bit.

sand on the corners, vietnam

And then, what i have been waiting for, the mountain pass.

scooter ready to take on the mountains

start of the mountains, vietnam

twisties, vietnam
The bike performs very well, and i have loads of fun. the speed limit is between 20 and 30 km/h, depending on the section of the road. I do about 40, guessing from the sound of the motor when the speedo was working. The bike has ample power to still go more, but that would be stupid here as you encounter slow moving trucks at any turn. See a short video i recorded here.
I pass what looks like a church or something, and stop to take a quick picture. It is so easy with a scooter, as you do not need to worry about gears and getting the thing in neutral.
tiger in the road, vietnam


I pass a few towns, with most of them looking all about the same.


But then, i spot a large church, and just had to stop and take pictures. I am such a tourist. 🙂









I am having so much fun, that i forget to check my GPS, and take a wrong turn. Not a problem, as both roads lead to the next town i want to be in, this one is just longer, so i have to stop for gas. I find a guy with a cabbage cart, with only one horse power to pull it.20140505-093517.jpg

Then i carry on, yes, stomach growling, but in its defence, it was almost 1pm, and i only had two eggs and a breadrol for breakfast. suddenly I spot a large number of busses parked outside a place, with lots of tourist (cameras hanging from the neck) walking around (always a good sign of you are hungry). I go to the first shop i see, and ask if they sell food. Nope. My stomach complains, so i buy some ice tea and sweets. They had wifi so i sit down and catch up on my writing.



I smell food coming from inside where al the tourist are going in, and decide to go have a look. It turned out to be a large park, where you can go on boat rides, take a cable car, ride an elephant, go inside a tree that have stairs in, then walk along a suspended bridge to the other side, walk under a water fall, and many more things, including loads of shopping, and eating.





















I grab a roll with chicken in, then head off to the next town. I come to a crossing, and am not sure what road to take, so i decide to take the smallest one up the mountain. (there are two others and lead to the town as well, just different parts as it is a huge town in the mountains). I was very well pleased by the pass up.


Soon i come to the town, and it is impressive. This is a major tourist town, with french alp like buildings. From having checked Expedia already, I knew the large hotels where just to far out of my budget. I travel to a road that I knew a backpacker place was in, but saw a small hotel before I could locate the backpacker place. US$10 a night, so I take it. I learned not to be too fussy. If they are clean, have hot water and wifi, I am okay with it. I put my bags down, and head out for a proper lunch as it is 3pm now. Then I walk back to the hotel for a nap and some writing. At 6pm I decide to go have a nice dinner and spoil myself. I use my map applications on my iPad to check for nice restaurants, and when i see one located on the lake, i had to go eat there. i know it was expensive, at US$10 for the meal, but it was an experience.





Dinner done, i head out. Have some trouble starting the bike, as it is getting very cold, and is in the mountains. There was already dew on my bike seat at 8pm. I think the bike is not adjusted for the thin air and the cold air, as when i get back to the hotel it idles nicely (engine now hot) and starts easily. Will check it out tomorrow as i decided to stay a day here. It is such a lovely town, and so large, there is so much to see. So if i need any servicing done, this is the place to do it before i head out to the remote mountains.

Start of trip || < || >