A lot of Vietnam

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by roly1, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. roly1

    roly1 Adventurer

    Sep 24, 2012
    Day 18 - Mui Ne to Bao Loc - There and back again

    I was supposed to stay in Mui Ne until a day before my rental term with the bike was up, but I became very bored with the lethargy of the place and felt depressed to think that the fun was over. The restaurants were great but all the so called 'attractions' were pretty poor. I missed the adrenaline and chaos of the roads.

    I started a hastily planned trip up towards the Cambodian border.

    The first leg would take me back up the the great mountain road I came South on before I headed North West to Gia Nghia through Bao Loc. I was deliberately heading to areas I knew foreigners rarely visited. Knocking a lady from her bike 10 minutes into the ride was a bad start, but she saw me and should have moved. I stopped, helped her pick up the bags of fish scattered over the road when she fell over, checked she was ok, and then got on my way.

    A small crowd of people in a remote(ish) village all refused to touch my camera, there was actual fear in one ladies eyes. A hero strode forth from them and managed this well framed classic -

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384339753/" title="Somewhere high, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3783/10384339753_7de215f2ab_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Somewhere high, Vietnam"></a>

    A little before hitting the mountain roads again I met up with two great Australian bikers on very powerful trail bikes, father and son Anthony and Ethan. They were great company with good advice about riding in Vietnam. We stopped for drinks a couple of times, before parting ways as they headed East for Dalat.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384177655/" title="Fellow riders, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3720/10384177655_8f0258b9c6_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Fellow riders, Vietnam"></a>

    The comparison I made is that they had all the gear and all the ideas, whereas I had not much gear and some questionable ideas, if any.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384176744/" title="Mountainside cafe, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3719/10384176744_1607ac203b_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Mountainside cafe, Vietnam"></a>

    The ride from the mountains to Bao Loc was quick and easy. On the main road I found a very nice hotel, the Minh Quan. I appreciated being somewhere cooler than the lowlands and, as I had read, the coffee there opens portals to new dimensions.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384289494/" title="Road to Bao Loc, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7416/10384289494_f17fe53d1f_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Road to Bao Loc, Vietnam"></a>
  2. Watercat

    Watercat . . . gravity sucks

    Jan 9, 2006
    Beervanastan, Duwamps Pacific NorWet
    awesome RR . . . . . .:clap . . . . . .:clap . . . . . . . .:clap . . . . . . . :clap . . . . . . . :clap - and write-up . . . . . .

    Wow, you're right, the best traveling experiences (IMHO) that truly touch the heart are when we are helped out by the common people of a foreign country . . . . . .

    This has happened to me too, where peeps who are just struggling to make ends meet have stuck their necks out and offered their help - and really helped me out, WOW ! ! !:wink:

    Thanks for describing it here; It sure brought back memories (late 80's early 90's) . . . . . .

    Thanks again . . . . .:clap
  3. roly1

    roly1 Adventurer

    Sep 24, 2012
    Day 19 - Bao Loc to Gia Nghia via Dambri - Dammit

    I headed out early to find the famous Dambri falls, riding through humble dwellings in coffee fields on quiet roads. Turns out that the popularity of the Dambri falls has spawned a mini amusement park with bumper cars, rollercoasters and daytime discos. Due to it being the weekend and a national holiday the place was ramajam packed, as usual people were staring at, and sometimes laughing at, the strange foreigner.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384572453/" title="Dambri falls entrance, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7411/10384572453_03f6df0d0b_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Dambri falls entrance, Vietnam"></a>

    See the little tourists?

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384378285/" title="Dambri falls, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5497/10384378285_1712a7fbc0_b.jpg" width="768" height="1024" alt="Dambri falls, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384549393/" title="Crossing the river at Dambri falls, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7443/10384549393_e19472de7d_b.jpg" width="768" height="1024" alt="Crossing the river at Dambri falls, Vietnam"></a>

    After a bowl of Pho I rode back through Bao Loc then headed North towards Gia Nghia over smooth rolling hills lined with coffee plantations rising above vast plains covered with rice paddies.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384350776/" title="Across the plains outside Bao Loc, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3797/10384350776_29edc573ac_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Across the plains outside Bao Loc, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384376036/" title="Farmland near Bao Loc, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5526/10384376036_8d667f7b73_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Farmland near Bao Loc, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10384366396/" title="So much coffee in Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7323/10384366396_b711d3e326_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="So much coffee in Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385103716/" title="Typical Vietnamese roadworks by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3733/10385103716_a17d4cffb5_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Typical Vietnamese roadworks"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385085294/" title="Through fields of coffee, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3670/10385085294_677c4e9883_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Through fields of coffee, Vietnam"></a>

    After an hour I stopped to take a photo when a chap on a scooter told me in broken English that the road ahead was blocked and that I should go back to skirt around the enormous, and rather beautiful looking, valley ahead. I found the sign I should have seen for this detour hidden behind one of the old repurposed US military trucks.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385015976/" title="Sonofagun blocked a detour sign, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2809/10385015976_e9317353ed_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Sonofagun blocked a detour sign, Vietnam"></a>

    The detour initially took me through miles of cool shaded pine forest. Suddenly the forest receded and there was a huge power plant surrounded by a development site, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't believe the scale of development around major cities in Vietnam, which obviously makes the roads even more hazardous for a number of reasons. Now the US has finally lifted trade restrictions on them, apparently they are considered by some to be the second fastest developing country in the world, which I hadn't expected. However, now I live in the US, my local supermarkets have dozens of types of coffee from all over the world, but none from Vietnam... which is a shame because it is great!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385065715/" title="Suddenly this appeared by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3730/10385065715_5ff2729b67_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Suddenly this appeared"></a>

    The roads here were very much in progress with huge ruts little better than a motocross track, but I like mud. I then took what had to be a wrong turn onto a shabby dirt track through dense forest, it was slippery fun but I had to turn back.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385001714/" title="Lost in the woods in Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5549/10385001714_f5dc6f9b7e_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Lost in the woods in Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385219733/" title="Fun surface for knobblies, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2889/10385219733_ff326269d6_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Fun surface for knobblies, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385301283/" title="Looking for the right road through the hills, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2847/10385301283_5078ab80f8_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Looking for the right road through the hills, Vietnam"></a>

    After twenty minutes I had found the right road. This led me through a low mountain jungle, which was quite foggy, cold and wet but there were many fun corners. However, quite often there would be a fine stretch of tarmac, then just around a bend or over a crest would be a truly horrific pothole or jarring lump where differing surfaces meet. There is a lot of infrastructure development in that area currently, in an attempt to push tourism further inland, creating new Dalat style tourist towns. Shame they can't build infrastructure like their northern neighbors yet, because the Chinese are rather good at it!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385161673/" title="Jungle straight, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7423/10385161673_3508337f78_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Jungle straight, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385185115/" title="Slippery decent, mountain trails in Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7406/10385185115_a4d78f6e29_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Slippery decent, mountain trails in Vietnam"></a>

    I had to redo the corners in the next two photos, which were consecutive, just enjoyed them...

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385164575/" title="Came back up to ride this one twice, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3720/10385164575_c6d9a931a1_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Came back up to ride this one twice, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385230355/" title="More fun bends in Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7320/10385230355_37b573d26f_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="More fun bends in Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385262095/" title="Isolated mountain side hamlets, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3667/10385262095_c8f6b67f60_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Isolated mountain side hamlets, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385199925/" title="Vietnamese jungle shapes by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7432/10385199925_5e74774a7b_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Vietnamese jungle shapes"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385394043/" title="Fog aross the Vietnamese jungle by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7452/10385394043_7562936b2c_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Fog aross the Vietnamese jungle"></a>

    Spot the hazards, Vietnam style - :zilla
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385127124/" title="Spot the hazard, Vietnam style by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7443/10385127124_24ab41fc75_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Spot the hazard, Vietnam style"></a>

    Future Vietnamese sausage -
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385378834/" title="Future Vietnamese sausage by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2827/10385378834_6718ba088c_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Future Vietnamese sausage"></a>

    At least it was in km... -
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385383565/" title="Vietnam road markers often not so helpful by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7377/10385383565_5a7593cbd5_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Vietnam road markers often not so helpful"></a>

    Another surprise came when I exited a corner to be faced with a huge dam under construction, with crumbling rocks and wayward construction materials scattered across the roads for miles.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385313224/" title="New dam under construction in Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2894/10385313224_f289df42f2_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="New dam under construction in Vietnam"></a>

    After that more low hills gave great views of distant mountains.&#8232;&#8232; I found the outskirts of Ghia Nghia as the sun was setting, a real work in progress town (the new Dalat I was told) with more construction related debris and general rubbish scattered everywhere. As you can see, not much to look at at the moment.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385527873/" title="Entering Ghia Nghia by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7322/10385527873_144a0e4d89_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Entering Ghia Nghia"></a>

    Thanks to the lengthy detour I was ready for food and bed well before I got a damnable flat front tire. As I entered the centre of town, it started raining. Drenched in mud, I wobbled into a half decent looking hotel, unpacked my bike and slogged my gear into a room, planning to fix the bike the next day. Two minutes later the owner decided my photocopied passport was not good enough, that he needed a driving license like his, how did he expect me to have that? I offered to let him talk to the chap who rented me the bike over the phone to explain my situation but he declined, what a time to meet the only stubborn git of my whole time in Vietnam. Things were said neither of us understood, he managed something that sounded like 'sorry', I managed something that sounded like 'tosser'. I got the impression that they were not used to tourists here.

    I limped the bike over to a mechanic but he was closing down. Somehow he thought it may be helpful to squirt a few puffs of air in the tire, I said nothing this time. I then rolled the bike downhill wearing my big backpack to a real dive hotel, the only other one I could see in the pouring rain. It had that special smell that comes with everything always being damp and warm, its weird, but the owner and his family were extremely nice.

    Town seemed to be closing up for the night, so immediately I went out for some food. Despite having wonderfully polite and generous hosts, the only place open had fairly scummy food and lots of moody mangy dogs hanging around.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385331466/" title="Not the finest Vietnamese food by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3670/10385331466_0d4a73ef4c_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Not the finest Vietnamese food"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385471256/" title="Not living large in Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2839/10385471256_801dc79f9d_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Not living large in Vietnam"></a>

    It was all feeling a little weird. A town covered in dirt and debris, gangs of snarling bickering dogs, broken smashed up pavements, huge grand intersections rutted and swamped in mud, everyone filthy and looking like they had all sorts of rashes, a world of grey, brown, browny grey. A setting sun removing all tone was a blessing. I trudged back in pitch darkness in the continuous pouring rain.

    When I got back I had a cold shower whilst dodging excitable cockroaches the size of my hand on every surface of the bathroom. I spent that night with all sorts of weird and decidedly large bugs crawling about my room. Now and then one screeching would wake me up. Still, generally I slept like a muddy baby, but before nodding off I knew I had seen enough.
  4. roly1

    roly1 Adventurer

    Sep 24, 2012
    <strong>Day 20 - Gia Nghia to Saigon - Like a bat out of hell</strong>

    I had tempted fate enough and decided to head back to Saigon. Considering the 4 day tour of the Northwest, which I didn't cover in this RR, before heading South from Hanoi 24 days prior (adding rest days to the ride days), and not being a seasoned rider, my ass really hurt, and I couldn't see a that I could best some of the rides I'd already had!

    The hotel owner was nice enough to direct me to a mechanic working and living out of some corrugated iron boards and wood struts. We propped my bike up on a big brick and he put my spare front tube in. That took twenty minutes and cost the equivalent of* 2 Pounds Sterling.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385615093/" title="Helpful mechanic, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5525/10385615093_38eb0f0855_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Helpful mechanic, Vietnam"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385423755/" title="A typical main road, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3822/10385423755_025d7961d8_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="A typical main road, Vietnam"></a>

    This would be the longest days ride in distance. Despite many of the supposed main roads being little more than a barely flattened surface covered in stones, I made good time and got to Saigon before sun down. The buses on those roads were still driving at full speed, firing rocks all over the place. There would be perfect road for miles, then suddenly huge potholes and cracks, usually on corners or crests of hills, similar to yesterdays roads, but this time on dual carriageways!

    Riding in Saigon was even less fun than Hanoi, but not too slow. At one point our lights went green, so I accelerated out, when some maniac with wife and kid on their scooter came flying out of the stationary traffic to my right, no helmets, nothing worth protecting in his case. We both braked hard. The fear in his eyes was incredible as he realized he may have just sentenced his family to a grim demise. I stopped just short of smashing into their flank, the wife and kid hardly noticed at all. I couldn't see how they were unfazed, I suppose those are the kind of weird moments when you realize that you may never understand.

    I spotted the inviting looking Evergreen Hotel and pulled in. After sorting a room I rode the bike into their garage and parked up.

    It dawned on me that this was probably it. Smiling, but with a heavy heart, I switched the engine off, then kicked out the stand. I walked to my room, sat on the bed, looked down at my boots, which had been unworn before the trip, and before taking them off for the last time I had to smile at how worn they were.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10385319896/" title="Goodbye boots by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3685/10385319896_eef25a80ec_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Goodbye boots"></a>

    - The End
  5. roly1

    roly1 Adventurer

    Sep 24, 2012
    Thanks for those who have read and commented on what I hope is the first of many reports I can write on motorbike adventures. I'll have to go back to Vietnam one day, but until then there's many other places to ride and explore.

    Hopefully see you out there.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/105997606@N06/10371868183/" title="Me near Mai Chau, Vietnam by rolandeshaw, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7370/10371868183_db9b61c715_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Me near Mai Chau, Vietnam"></a>
  6. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

    Nov 28, 2011
    Recalculating... recalculating.... HCMC-Vietnam :)
    Hey Roly1, great report with interesting commentary. I always like the trip reports from the one who are not the local. They all have very "fresh" view and cool photo angles.
    I think I have been thru almost if not saying all of your routes.
    There are still lots of low quality roads, people not respect the traffic rules, etc... Many people think that if you can ride or drive in Vietnam, you can ride anywhere in the world. :evil
    Besides, I really love your comments about the foods, hotels and the friendly people. You can not find any where which they have cheaper and better foods than in Vietnam.

    To add in your thread some more photos which at the same location, on Gia Bac pass, National road #28:


  7. Lambo

    Lambo Been here awhile

    Aug 30, 2006
    Thanks for the interesting Ride Report. Good photos and commentary.

  8. roly1

    roly1 Adventurer

    Sep 24, 2012
    Thanks Lambo, appreciate it.

    And VietHorse, amazing that you remember those corners too! Thanks for putting a name to that road, my map didnt have such details :D
  9. timmie415

    timmie415 n00b poster but not rider

    Jan 5, 2010
    in a Fog above SF
    I am also glad that VietHorse put a name to those corners because I might have missed your RR.

    Been dreaming/researching this part of the world and feel privileged to have seen a bit through your lens. Thanks for taking the time to post.