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Old 11-04-2012, 06:23 AM   #1
momi20 OP
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Vietnam 2012: ďTen toi la Momi Ľ...made in Italy !

HellÚ everybody Iím Maurizio (aka Momi)ŗ Italy

This year for my vacation I chose the Vietnam, country that Iíve missed in 2007 by 100 km ( 62 miles) when I was riding with a little motorbike in Laos



Why Vietnam ? First of all cause Iíve never been there, thatís always a good reason to visit a country. Further since I was child I was concerned with Vietnam. At the primary school (7 years old) for an italina composition with free title, I chose ďThe Vietnam WarĒ. It was the 1969 and in 2 weeks Iíve read (on my fatherís newspaper) an article about Vietnam War.
My teacher wanted to talk with my father that explained that I was a little bit strange kid, quiet, not violent, but very interested to the strategy of the battle and war. The military logistic is for me a science: the war a madness.
As most of the people Iíve seen a lot of movies: Apocalipse Now, The Green Berets, The Deer Hunter, Rambo, Hamburger Hill, Platoon, Coming Home ecc... This was probably the first war that came in to houses with real images.
Around first days of April I found a very cheap flight Milan-Moscow-Hanoi for 559 Ä( 717 $) with Aeroflot . I run a little mechanical factory with my brother and so I can decide my week days with him. The problem was to avoid the worst monson days. I decided to start on 19 of May and come back on 13th of June
Flightís ok.
Second thing: the bike. On internet I found a very professional agency in Hanoi, that was very helpfull and sent to me a lot of informations.
Teh name is Flamingo Travel ( http://www.flamingotravel.com.vn/ ) : is a travel agency, that sell air and bus tickets, organizes tours , rent motorbike and also organizes motorbike tours. I chosen a bike very similar to my Suzuki DR 350
the Yamaha Serow 230 cc 21 Ä/day (28 $/day), 109 kg( 240 pounds) and with a good tank, 10 lt ( 2 gallons)



Guide book : for a few years Iíve chosen the Footprint. Lucky therís the italian translation for Vietnam



Map: on Amazon I found the Periplus 4,5 Ä ( 6 $)



My first idea was to do the North Loop, with Dien Bien Phu, Meo Vac ( on the China border) and Halong Bay. Then ? How the hell could I know ? Maybe try to reach Ho Chi Min City in the south, cause Flamingo Travel was able to organze the drop off : in case of lackness of days is possibile to leave the bike in Ho Chi Min City and get the night train: 36 hours to come back in Hanoi. Iíll see in Vietnam, day by day. I had in mind 2 places: HuŤ the ancient capital of the Vietnam an the My Lai memorial, where undred of vietnamese civilians were killed by USA marines in 1968.

I started from Milano on 19 of May and landed in Hanoi on 20th of May. Iíve ridden with the motorbike from 22th of May to 12th of June for 6.232 km ( 3.872 miles). This is my route...more or less: I didnít use any GPS.



Expenses

Vietnam Visa (made at the Hanoi Airport) -------------------38Ä = 50 $
Milan-Hanoi flight (Aeroflot)--------------------------------------559Ä= 717 $
Motorbike rent (22 days)------------------------------------------472Ä= 605$
Travel insurance (england company on line)-----------------95Ä= 121 $
Food, accomodations, gas, souvenir ecc (in Vietnam)----470Ä= 603$

Flamingo Travel sent to me pics and mesurement of saddle bags, so I decided to use my light backpack of Ferrino top ut on the rack: they also provide the helmet. In this way I could start with less than 10 kg ( 22 pounds) of luggage




my gym buddy the Beuto is always my personal chauffeur to reach train station or airport



the Aeroflotís mený was excellent



I landed in Hanoi at 8.00 am. How reach the hostel ? By taxi ? Mhh too easy: try with local transports. Just outside the airport I get the bus 17



on the last stop the bridge that bring you to Hanoi is forbidden to pedestrians so I agree with a man on motorbike that for 0,77Ä= 1 $ bring me and my rucksack to the hostel



3,66 Ä/night( 4,69$/night), 6 bed dormitory, with breakfast and free beer in the afternoon (www.hostelworld.com) ...and just 60 mt ( 66 yards) from Flamingo Travel office





I want to emphasize that the owner Mr Hung Nguyen was very helpfull, even during the trip: very professional also.
Settled the rent contract, deposit and signed documents I started to visit Hanoi by foot. The capital is known as City of Lakes, so whatís better than Hoan Kiem Lake to begin ?



















Ahh finally I could see the ceremony in that asian people show to divinities their detachment from material goods: they burn money ! Ok they are false bills, but doesnít matter. Divinities dont know bills: brilliant idea.








http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsvXFZ62z0Y





Around the lake therís an incredible number of little activities. Itís typical of Asia



the Vietnam food is probably the most various of Asia













A truck ? No a bycicle



The Saint Joseph Cathedral (1886)









I look at the jam to undertend the ďrulesĒ: as in India and Naples( Italy) the idea is that jam is as a river: never stop the flow. The biggest mistake is to stop your veichle is somebody or something is crossing your direction. Drive slow and slide lateral, so both can continue to go.



Vietnam stock exchange





this square is a meeting place for free time






reporter



dinner





perfect end of my first Vietnam day was the Muppet on the Water Show










but Iím lucky: just outside the teather, at the end of the show, a pop live show on the street





Today is 21th of May, Monday: the bike will be ready in the afternoon and Iíll start tomorrow morning. I woke up very early: breakfast is served from 8.00 am...at 7.00 am I prepared it myself






Sky is dark and stormy









Herer is the monson



after half hour everything is finisch so I went to the mechanical shop of Falmingo Travel. Employe explain to me how check oil level, put gas in the tank, start and turn off the bike and tire pressure and how often to grease the chain with the spray. This are the mechanical activities that Iím able to do: any other activity that I try to do on the motorbike could be dangerous...for the bike and me. As mechanic Iím = 0 ! The front brake is weak, but they told me to use ďJust in emergency situationĒ..ok as with my scooter Vespa Piaggio PX 125: Iím lucky.

url=http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=3936&u=13013946][/url]



To train myself with the bike I drove through the city






Ho Chi Min Mausoleum



Ohh an entire statue of Lenin: not so easy to find in former USSR









this is one of the 36 streets of the Old District: in each of those streets there was a different activity: shoes, clothes ecc...







Back in the hostel and I was alone in the room, so I could prepare luggage for tomorrow: saddle bags with stuff that you use most frequently: the rest in the backpack, that I put in a plastic bag.








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Old 11-04-2012, 06:28 AM   #2
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Ciao Momi, Great to see you back on the adventure trail!!!

We highly appreciated and enjoyed your last adventures into Asia... looking forward to this one
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:09 AM   #3
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:57 PM   #4
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May 22th: I wake up very early but it’s raining. Ok breakfast



after this the rain stops, but the sky remain dark and stormy. I fix my luggage and I’m ready to go. Direction is west.









ohh a Golf Club



always delicious the juice from sugar cane



the landscape begins to change





the sky is always dark but I begin to see a lot of bikers that stop to wear rain clothes...it’s better do the same thing, even if isn’t raining. I learn that time noise from sky and rain is very short in Vietnam, but nobody refuses to take refuge from the rain. I had a stop in to a gas station





sometimes the rain makes streets into little river and that remind me the road Manali – Leh in India



in the North of Vietnam there are a lot of monuments in USSR style



around night I reach Son La that became my first stop in Vietnam. To sleep in Vietnam you can find two kind of accomodation. The hotel named khŠch sạn and the guest house (cheaper) nha nghi: both take care of your motorbike and put it directly in the hall.



The room is around 4 €= 5 $

After a quick shower I walked along the main road...ok every Vietnam city has a very big big central road and as in the former USSR cities that’s all. Right and left hotel, shops and restaurants. The owner was very happy to have a foreign client







the food was excelent..this cats which I had given food are still alive









This morning I’d like to reach Dien Bien Phu, where in the 1954 came the big victory of the Viet Minh Army on the French Army and put an end to the Indocina War that has begun in the 1946: to know more please click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Indochina_War





a very important thing. When you travel and decide to download pics from memory card to your notebook, remember to put again the card in the camera: could be very difficult do it when luggages are fixed on the motorbike



the Vietnam jam, as in Africa and India is amix of vehicles, people and animals









sometimes the vegetation has a green really incredible





What you can do to dry quickly hay or rice ? Use the spaved road




ohh the rain: i’m on the road but I see a little stand of fruit and a house, so I drive my motorbike in the backyard



Is a property of a young guy that works as excavator driver: he has showed to me the operating manual. He’s at home with a friend that’s a teacher. They offered to me tea and fruit







I arrived to Dien Bien Phu around 1 ,00 pm and so first I had lunch



this is a celebration of the victory mhh this staircase remind me Odessa and the Potemkin staircase









the war cemetery





I meet a couple of Belgium tourists and we exchange informations on Vietnam: very intresting population. For one year and half they hadn’t a governement, but the country was going on.

I started around 3 pm and I decided to arrive as far as possible: normally is a point that you can’t miss.



a stop for a drink...and rain again





Along the road I bought a pillow from a Guest House. I’m short, but the bike is very little with a hard seat







I reach Lai Chau around 7 pm and just one hotel has a room. First eat, the shower can wait







the hotel has a big dining room with wi-fi free, table football, billiard and a room for the national pastime in Vietnam: the karaoke. Every bar, restaurant , private home has one



around 2 am it’s enough: and this time the owner stops the people to sing. My room is very large and I could arrange clothes and luggage easily






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Old 11-04-2012, 06:59 PM   #5
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Looks like a good trip, Momi. I'm looking forward to the rest.
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Old 11-05-2012, 02:07 PM   #6
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This is always the best way to dry clothes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax90V68CDq0



This morning Iíve in mind to reach with a very short distance Sapa, a city thatís a good starting point for some trekking.
As in every city here in Vietnam the marketallows you to can see many different physiognomies







from the architectural viewpoint Lai Chau isnít unforgettable



just pay attentino to roadsigns and everything goes smoothly











No way ! One pillow isnít enough: my butt is crying (me too). I didnít see a lot of pillow shops on the roas....ohh itís a mirage ? No this man sells pillows and sheet !!!!!! Yes: I bought one immediactly and the seller has helped me to fix it over the seat. Double pillow better than one.









Sapa is on altitude of 1600 mt( 1 miles...as the Denver Broncos Stadium, the Mile High), and during the French occupation became the summer vacation resort of the foreign diplomatics: her weather remind Alpes.



As in the 2010 in India when I arrived in manali the impressioni s the same: is a city totally full of restaurant souvenir shops, travel agency, england pub, bank, music club in western style...ok nothing wrong with this situation. Iím a tourist as other people and in vacation youíve got the right to relax, but I donít need of place like this. I decided to continue and reach Lao Cai a normal Vietnamese city, on the China border.









Just one problem: I canít no more read the oil level: the little plastic window is completly dark. A very nice local mechanic called the Flamingo Travel in Hanoi, but read the level remained a mistery: they just said ďStop to put oil !Ē





Lao Cai and therís yet sunlight



Öok I had taken just the picture




http://laocaistarhotel.com/Accommodation-product.aspx?cate=193

the range is from the Superior room ( 18 Ä=24$) to Vip Room ( 92Ä= 118 $). My hotel was 3,12Ä =4$ a night.
Lao Cai is just a transit city









dinner



my hotel room isnít bad



In the room I notice a big irritation with a big swelling. When you travel alone, is better to have some medical knoweledge: obviously is a sting. No problem Iíve got the spray, just put a little bit...AAAHHHHHHHH the pain is incredible. It isnít a sting, but a friction of the sock on the skin...ok the liniment


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Old 11-05-2012, 07:00 PM   #7
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Hi Momi , great pics , made me homesick ( I lived in Hanoi for 7 years ) Wise choice in Flamingo travel , Ive known Hung for around 15 years and always hire my bikes from him ( I still go back every year to catch up with friends Hope you enjoyed your time in Vietnam.
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:26 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing your photos and great report !!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:20 PM   #9
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Nice travel journal!

Love your blog. Keep it coming!
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:05 AM   #10
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Another exciting RR from Momi, I'm in
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:18 AM   #11
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Well done Mate
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:30 AM   #12
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Hey, welcome to Vietnam. I bet you have great experience about the culture and riding here! Keep it coming.....
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:16 AM   #13
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Today Iíve planned to reach Ha Giang, a city wehrís possible get the permit to travel in the North Area of Ha Giang region...itís easy remember names of region and her capital in Vietnam: itís the same. The road from Ha Giang to Meo Vac is a dream for a biker. The permit costs around 25 $, I think 10$ every people if you are a bunch of almost 4.





This was my first stop for a coffee



Iíve never been in a Vietnam ďbarĒ and I remained surprised by the way in that they prepare it. They put the coffee in the ďCoffee makerĒ (made in a light aluminium), then this come on a glass, after hot water and you wait to filter it.
Simple but intelligent: this could be a great souvenir.





gas station



gas stationís workers



gas stationís bathroom



Could miss a stop due to the rain ?



Vietnam road accident



My hotel in Ha Giang: Iím lucky here itís possibile get the permit



Dinner







The rice cookerÖanother candidate as souvenir



Iíve never seen a hotel where cars and minibus have to cross the reception to go in the parking



the permit: I can go to sleep



ohh Iíve got to dry my clotes



Today is Saturday: Iím going to Meo Vac





As Iím going I understand the big difference between landscape in Europe and here. Iím on the mountains, the roads are very similar, good but narrow, but the landscape is something amazing: no pines no fir tree, but jungle.
Sometimes I stop the bike just without a reason and I remain to look





















Vietnam-China border






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Old 11-06-2012, 11:37 AM   #14
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Nice report. I really like these solo trip reports in foreign countries.
Are the hotel beds hard in the north?
I was in the south and every bed I had was extremely firm.
Actually had to take pain killers to get to sleep.
Next time may take some kind of air sleeping pad.
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Old 11-09-2012, 02:29 PM   #15
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Around 1 pm i reach a little city:ok right time toh ave lunch. Iíve got two tin can of fish: if I can find some bread, thatís all I need. Ahh french bread: baguette



The city is little, but the Ho Chi Min picture is very large



along a road I see some big buildings. They looks uninhabitated: a good place to take a rest and eat. Maybe a school or some guid hall.
At the moment zero check point: maybe I had could avoid to pay the 25$ permit.





voilŗ baguette avec poisson



Iím ready to go when appears a men : a keeper ? He cheers to me and then take out a cellphone. I donít undertand why heís taking a picture of my bike behind. He calls me pointig at the screen of his cellphone. Probably he likes to show to me the picture. Suddendly I understand that democracy is a little bit far from Vietnam. He has a list of plates, even mine. With the number of the plates of my bike therís the date of the permit. How many people are keeping me under surveillance ?





I had a stop to take a picture, but I see 2 Black Hmong ( a Vietnam tribe) walking and bringing cattle. I hope to donít have problems with this wild men: the problems in the comunication can get the encounter very dangerous. I turn with my camera...but they see me. My blood became cold, but they donít care of me: Iím safe.















This time no risk with the locals: I use the zoom















Finally Meo Vac: lucky, a Yamaha service



To sleep I search in the little city and I meet 4 english bikers that I saw in Ha Giang. Their hotel is the only in the city: others accomodations are Guest House. Reception restaurant...12 $ (9,4 Ä) for room: Ahhhhhhh After a while I find my place 4$ (3,14 Ä) for the room. Ok



The Guest House is run by a family: Father, mother and 4 daughters. The oldest is 14 years old and the mother is 34...ok at the age of 40 in Vietnam you can became grandfather



The daughter that is 14 years old knows 10 english words, but my phrasebook helps a lot. After a shower Iím back in the hall and I notice the wonderful fish that they cooked for dinner. I point my finger on the fish and on me, to try to ask: ďCan you cook one for me ?Ē They smile and invite me to eat with the family



My efforts with chopsticks always are fun for asian people..and sometimes a friend of the family looks at me from outside. I could let pay a ticket for the show







this isnít the fifth daughter, but a friend from Ha Giang



no way to can pay the dinner: Iím a guest of the family, and so I go to sleep.
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