Vietnam - Top to Bottom (a motorcycle adventure through Vietnam)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SoloSurfer, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

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    Hey Josh - thanks for your RR too, it was a very inspiring read before our Vietnam trip... :clap thanks for following ours.
    #61
  2. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
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    Day 9 - Wednesday, November 13
    Distance - 140 kms = total for day ~ 6.5 hrs
    Trip Odometer = 641 kms
    Route - Dong Van south on Hwy 4C to Ha Giang
    Hotel - Truong Xuan Resort - ~5km from Ha Giang (500,000d = ~$25)
    Weather - Morning cloud, followed by mist, thick-dense fog and rain. Afternoon dried out a tad at lower elevations but stayed cloudy with mist and rain on both mountain passes.



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    This was a longer day on the road as we wanted to push from Dong Van along 4C into Ha Giang. We had some excellent riding, but unfortunately there weren't too many photos as the weather shit-out on both of the mountain passes we went over. Just one of those things as you can't see much in Vietnam when the weather is filled with mist, dense fog and rain. We felt lucky that we had a couple of days of great weather prior to this, but this is another stretch of road that I would love to revisit on a nice, clear day. It is literally 'rolling the dice' with the weather, gotta take what you get, adapt and go...

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    (Hard to say good-bye to this Dong Van cutie... she was running the show at our hotel. )


    The roads out of Dong Van were slick and wet and as we climbed higher and higher out of town, we got more and more into the misty mountain drizzle action and dense fog. With that, the views disappeared and we started getting quite cold. We both had layered with our rain gear right out of the gates in Dong Van, but high up on the first pass we had to slow right down as we couldn't see much in front of us due to the fog and it seemed to get colder and colder. We pulled over, threw on all of our thermals that we had luckily packed from Canada, and we carried on down the slick roads.



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    Amanda pointing at a billboard with a stunning view of our surroundings. I'm positive this was here to show us what it 'should' look like in this area. Maybe it is misty and foggy most of the time??

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    As we approached the town of Yen Minh, we dropped in elevation and it started to clear up. We were ready for a pit-stop, so we pulled over at a typical Vietnamese 'everything' store and I ordered up a Vietnamese coffee while the better half picked out some tasty crackers. When my traditional cup of Vietnamese 'Joe' came to the table, she brought out x2 servings assuming we both wanted a cup. Well, seeing that Amanda doesn't drink coffee, I took care of both of them and was right-jacked by the time we got back on the road. It is very strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of the cup. I was toasty, warm and jittery, perfect for riding the next stretch of road. :eek1




    The road out of Yen Minh was great for an hour or so as the weather was holding. Sections of the road remained wet with the odd dry patch here and there.



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    Amanda was riding ahead and I decided to pull over to shoot a couple of photos of these girls with umbrellas walking in the opposite direction from us. I showed the girls the pics on my phone as they walked by and they had a good laugh.


    As I pulled around the next corner, the first thing I see is Amanda staring down at her scoot, which is taking a nap on the side of the road. She is standing there, staring at it in disbelief wondering how on earth her motoscoot could choose such an inappropriate time to take a nap. I pulled up behind her and immediately asked her if she was ok and what had happened. Sounds like a car had passed her which put her in the rhubarb a tad just on the edge of the road and as she tried to pull back on the road, the bike just washed out beneath her. The road was indeed quick slick and particularly on the very edge where it was off cambered before the ditch.


    I picked the bike up and all looked good aside from a scuffed foot peg, a bruised ego and a startled heart. Very lucky as she was rolling quite slow when she hit the deck and fell off the bike and also that there were no other vehicles or obstacles around.


    As we were regrouping and getting sorted to get back on the road, we had a few locals come by to see if we were all good. I think this was the first-responder group in the area and it was like they were there all along, just monitoring the situation to make sure things were fine and that the tourists were ok.

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    A couple of the first responders at the crash site

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    Our first responder team at the crash site, wishing us a fond farewell and safe passage back on the roads...



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    Highway 4C continued down in elevation until the Song Mien river which we followed south for a stretch. This was a really great section of road, we were very lucky it was dry and we were able to enjoy the curves and the views at the same time.



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    Stopping for a break above the Song Mien River just north of Tam Son.

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    Fueling-up in Tam Son


    As we headed south from Tam Son, we again started up in elevation and yet again, progressed into misty mountain, foggy conditions. We finally came across another mountain pass where there was a tourist centre and the works which we pulled into briefly. We pulled in, didn't get off the bikes, and had a look at a large billboard map of the area and then decided to push down in elevation as we couldn't see much anyway. As we were looking at the map of the area, this young couple pulled up to have a chat with us. They were also tourists (from Saigon), and had rented a bike from Ha Giang - travelling in the opposite direction from us. We had a quick hello and both carried on our separate ways.

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    Our decent into Ha Giang put us into a literal 'snail's-pace' as we could barely see a few feet in front of us. We continued down switchback after switchback along these roads and I was really wondering what the area would look like with clear conditions - I'm certain it would have been stunning.


    We finally rolled into the Throng Xuan Resort around 2:30pm (roughly 5kms north of Ha Giang). We decided to splurge and said YES! to the river-side, stand-alone bungalow option (a splurge at a whopping $25/night - as non-river-view rooms were roughly $15/night)


    The young man at the front desk walked us to our room along a beautiful garden path and we followed behind him with our bikes which we were able to park alongside the bungalow. After unloading the bikes and decompressing on the deck, I noticed a flyer from the hotel offering 'Spa Treatments' in an adjacent building. We walked down to reception to inquire and 30 min later, we were brought down another path at the resort over to the Spa and Sauna building. Perfect!

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    We started with a wet sauna together which was a great way to relax and unwind after a long day in the saddle. After a full hour of sauna, we were collected and brought down another corridor of the spa for Red Dzao full-body massages. Neither of us were too sure of what to expect for the massage, and whether or not we would be in separate rooms or the same room, but we decided to go-with-the-flow and try it out. Two women promptly brought us each into separate rooms that were beside each other. The massage was very interesting to say the least with unique techniques involving a great deal of palm-slap-knuckle-crack-pinch-and-pull motions that were very noisy. I could hear the loud motions and noises in the room next door while experiencing the same thing at the same time.


    Now, one never knows how things will transpire with an unknown foreign 'massage' and/or what the protocol or etiquette may or may/not be. I was somewhat leery of the Red Dzao massage at first wondering if any sorts of attempts would be made for a massage with a proverbial 'happy-ending'. I, myself escaped with minimal awkward advances whereas my better half did not. Apparently, in the room right beside mine, my better half's much younger masseuse was hinting at a 'happy-ending' more than once. I'm guessing that she was quite disappointed when she wasn't given the green-light to show the nice Canadian girl her mad massage skillz. Hilarious. :lol3



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    River side Bungalow for $25/night.... 'We'll take it!'

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    The resort restaurant was a great option for supper as we didn't want to ride the motos into Ha Giang town and search out food after our relaxing afternoon. We had a set meal brought out to us with a few different courses including pumpkin soup to start, a dish of morning glory spinach, chicken and rice followed by a watermelon dessert. It was delicious.


    For our next day of riding, we had to re-visit our proposed and planned route. Due to the heavy rains the past few days, we decided that our route west to Vinh Quang and then south to Bac Ha might be a bit more sporty and unknown than we wanted. Also, seeing that we were days away from the famous Bac Ha market (which is on Sunday), it would be something we could pass on this trip.


    It was always a tough decision to change the route slightly and therefore miss a segment originally planned for, but with a set number of days to travel it was something that was also necessary in order to achieve our final goal in time - Saigon, and it was still a long way off.






    Next up - a very long day of riding from Ha Giang to Sapa









    #62
  3. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    In the mountains?
    I'm sitting in a hotel in Ha Noi right now and I just got caught up on your thread. Good lazy morning after 2 days and 5 flights to get here after being with family for the holidays.

    My friend is flying in from the states tonight. Unfortunately he hast to fly out of Ho Chi Min on the 15th to go back to work so that only gives us 10 days or so of travel. The northern part looks amazing, but you had way more time then we will have :cry

    Great pictures, great read. Keep it up! :deal
    #63
  4. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Rossland BC, Canada
    Holy Crap... Noah just commented on my Lil'Nam RR! It's like the JonBonJovi of ADV just plugged my RR... I'm crapping my pants like a school-boy :lol3

    Have a great time in 'Nam Noah, you and your Buddy will love it, I look forward to your posts as well.

    Cheers :freaky
    #64
  5. mrphotoman

    mrphotoman Long timer

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    great pics, I love the Vietnam ride reports.
    #65
  6. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    292
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    You two are an inspiration. I have just got completely caught up on you RR. Great pic's and stories well written. I an so looking forward to the rest of the trip.
    I am currently on work travel in Tanegashima, Japan and am really wishing I had my bike here. Too expensive to rent one here. Scooters are $50 a day.
    weather is better that DC / Baltimore area at the moment though.
    Keep up the great RR.
    10ecjed
    #66
  7. twflybum

    twflybum Prodigal Biker

    Joined:
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    Colorado
    Loving this RR.. :lurk
    #67
  8. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Rossland BC, Canada
    Day 10 - Thursday, November 14
    Distance - 247 kms = total for day ~ 8.5 hrs
    Trip Odometer = 888 kms
    Route - Ha Giang - Sapa. South on Hwy #2 from HaGiang, then West on #279 to Pho Rang. West on #70 to Lao Cai and #4D up, up, and up to Sapa
    Hotel - Sapa Paradise View Hotel ($55US x2 nights)
    Weather - Misty wet and soggy wet including wet-wet with brief moments of higher cloud and less wet for only a few moments of the day.



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    It is difficult to get motivated and excited about riding a motorbike through a foreign country when you know you are going to get wet and probably cold. I'm sure with this look on my riding partner's face (see above) that she should would have preferred transport by any other means than by motorbike on this particular day. It was a day after her first crash on wet roads and the roads were wet again. She was a trooper, I'll give her that, she deserves all the credit in the world for keeping her chin up each and every day and in particular, on the rainy, wet days that neither of us looked forward to.


    A holiday is sitting on a beach and relaxing. Travelling by motorbike isn't a holiday, it is an adventure and sometimes a very challenging one at that. At this point, we were both wishing for a holiday, maybe on a beach, with warmer temps and clear azure water. Our reality was a long way from that beach, the beach we would eventually encounter, but on this particularly wet day in Vietnam, it was a long way off.

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    Hand-made plywood drying (or getting wetter) on the roadside





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    'These little piggys go to market'... :dg




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    As we were a day or so behind our original planned route and because the weather forecast didn't look too great, we decided to cut-out a portion of our original itinerary I had planned from Canada. The section that would have brought us West from Ha Giang up in the mountains to Xin Man and then down into Bac Ha was a section that we'll have to put on the back burner for next time.


    Instead, we opted for the most direct and quickest route from Ha Giang into the tourist mountain town of Sapa. Right out of the gates and once fueling up in Ha Giang, we encountered long, dry, straight roads where we were cruising at speeds of 50-60kph consistently for about an hour. We covered just over 30kms in roughly an hour, a grand record in all our days of riding.


    The weather slowly got worse as we gained in elevation over our first pass of the day. All seemed to be going well weather-wise out of Ha Giang as we were keeping elevation following a river valley, but the minute we started heading up into the mountains, things changed which wasn't a surprise.


    We stopped for lunch in Yen Binh for a very welcomed steaming hot bowl of 'pho-ga'.

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    Lunch stop in Yen Binh.

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    Wet, cold, prune-hands - so nice to wrap them around a hot steamy bowl of pho...

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    South of Yen Binh, we came to the town of Pho Rang. From here, we travelled northwest along Hwy 70 towards China. The #70 was a very busy road, the type that we hadn't encountered since the beginning of our trip. There was loads of heavy truck traffic as this was a main transport route north linking Vietnam with China.


    I could see on my GPS and maps that there was a secondary road 4E to Lao Cai which too linked with Sapa, our destination for the day. I figured we could avoid the heavy traffic of the 70 and get onto a smaller road with less congestion. About 2kms into 4E, we both realized that we were indeed on a much smaller road with less traffic but with the state it was in, we probably wouldn't be arriving to Sapa before nightfall at that speed. The road was much smaller, but was a mix of choppy pavement, potholes and dirt sections that hadn't been maintained. We were barely able to ride 10kph, so we turned our bikes around and headed straight back to the #70 and B-lined it with the busyness for Lao Cai.


    Lao Cai is essentially right, smack-on, the Vietnam-China border. I'll now let the Lonely Planet do the honours: 'The town was razed in the Chinese invasion of 1979, so most of the buildings are new. The border crossing here slammed shut during the 1979 war and only reopened in 1993. Now, it's a bustling spot fuelled by growing cross-border trade. Today, Lao Cai is also a destination for travellers journeying between Hanoi and Sapa, or further north to Kumming in China. With Sapa just an hour or so away, Lao Cai is no place to linger, but it offers everything China-bound travellers will need for an overnight stay.'


    We had read that Sapa was one of Vietnams's highlights and that it wasn't to be missed. With that, we knew that it too would be filled with tourists. Being the savvy tourists that we are ('toot-toot' >> tooting my own horn here), we also know that touristy areas and tourist centres are normally there for a reason, they tend to be beautiful, there are normally things to see and do, and there tends to be a plethora of services including good restaurants and accommodations. We were both looking forward to all of this. We were tourists after all and we were craving the simple luxury of pizza and beer, well, maybe I was.
    The road from Lao Cai to Sapa was incredible. Another stretch that I would love to ride with dry roads and nice conditions. At times, I still opted to open my bike up as much as possible weaving in and out of the twisty corners while gaining in elevation. Eventually, I had to slow right down due to the heavy mist and fog we encountered as we gained higher and higher in elevation. The last 10km into Sapa was the thickest mist and fog yet. We had to almost ride in 1st and 2nd gear only, just crawling along, and it felt like ages to cover that final 10km.


    When we pulled into Sapa, we literally couldn't see a thing. It was starting to get dark and it was wet, misty, foggy and cold. We weaved along the narrow, steep streets looking for our hotel (that I had booked online due to a fellow moto traveller tip and the Trip Advisor recommendation http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Rev...aradise_View_Hotel-Sapa_Lao_Cai_Province.html )

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    We were ecstatic to check into the Sapa Paradise View Hotel. We had planned to spend x2 nights in Sapa so we figured we could stay in a nicer place with all the amenities and really live large. It was wonderful.

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    The minute we pulled up to the Sapa Paradise View hotel, we were treated like respected royalty. The managers and staff were so friendly and helpful, it was just what the 'doctor ordered' for both of us, their service was exemplary. We were given passionfruit juice welcome drinks, cakes, and a bottle of Dalat wine to enjoy, and we chose a more expensive upper floor room with valley views - all for $55/night, expensive for Vietnam but just fine with us.

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    Pizza, beer and a beautiful riding partner to share it with - perfect! :wings




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    A couple of cocktails after dinner, tucked in a travellers bar complete with fire place to take off the chill.




    We had planned to stay in Sapa for x2 nights to take it all in. We wanted to take care of laundry, see what cheap North Face knock-offs we could find, drink good coffee, peruse the markets, eat good food, and chill, rest and relax.


    Sapa was a perfect stop over for all of this.







    #68
  9. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
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    Rossland BC, Canada
    Sorry about the HUGE pictures. I cut/copy/pasted over from my blog as-per-usual and for some reason this time around, the pictures posted WAY big... oh well, hope this isn't a problem :eek1
    #69
  10. Hevy Kevy

    Hevy Kevy ADDRider

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    S. Ontario
    Fantastic. Thank you for taking the time.
    #70
  11. gavo

    gavo Slacker

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    Sapa was nice, friendly good food,beer, and things to do touristy or not.:D
    I don't know which way you're going but the road to Lai Chau is great and goes over Vietnams highest pass Tran Tom, Great bike road.
    Enjoying the report:D
    #71
  12. tbird649

    tbird649 Been here awhile

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    West Sussex, UK
    Yes, I hope to SEE Tran Tom one day. When we went to Sapa, we were delayed by rain and new road being dynamited into the mountainside, so we went over the pass at night.:huh
    #72
  13. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
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    YES! The next post will be pictures of a 'day-off' in Sapa and the following one is when we headed West out of Sapa and right over the Tran Tom, it was spectacular...

    Stay tuned... :ricky
    #73
  14. sophijo

    sophijo Been here awhile

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    See the raised left eyebrow in #68.......find yourself a beach house for a week; quick!
    #74
  15. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

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    HA!

    I know, right?! :jkam
    #75
  16. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
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    Rossland BC, Canada


    Day 11 - Friday, November 15
    Distance - 0 kms = total for day ~ 0 hrs = rest day
    Trip Odometer = 888 kms
    Route - Sapa Day!
    Hotel - Sapa Paradise View Hotel ($55US x2 nights)
    Weather - Misty wet plus pea-soup-fog.


    Sapa is one of the main stops on Vietnam's infamous 'packaged-tour'. Travellers generally take the overnight train from Hanoi, spend a few days in Sapa and surrounding area and then get back on the night train to Hanoi. (Ah-hem *clearing throat* we arrived to Sapa on motorbike in style of course ;) :ricky



    Sapa is nestled high in the mountains at 1650m which makes it a great spot for hiking and trekking on clear days. Tour groups take willing participants all over the valleys along small pathways weaving their way up and down the hillsides. Many people spend time in homestays with various hill tribes in the area. Local hill tribe people are scattered through town in their super colourful traditional clothing. Sapa is well set up to accommodate all types of tourists with whatever they desire. It was socked in on our rest day which aided in our decision to lay low for the day and to check out the town on our own. ​
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    Complimentary breakfast at the Sapa Paradise View hotel was great, but unfortunately the 'paradise view' was non-existent. We woke up later, relaxed, strolled down to the restaurant for breakfast and then decided to walk around town.


    The night before, we had enquired about the hotel's laundry service and one of the managers at the front desk gave us a large plastic bag and said to drop it off at reception. All our affairs were in order, so all we had to do was check out Sapa.


    We had both heard that Sapa was a go-to for cheap, outdoor knock-offs and we had a few people at home in mind for some Xmas gifts. Unfortunately, we didn't have a ton of space on the bikes. We managed to find a nice North Face jacket for Amanda's father back in Canada and I managed to find a small, fleece layer and a pair of shoes rather than walking around in my wet Keens.


    Now, I'll let the pictures do the rest... our day in Sapa:

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    Cho Sapa - Sapa Market

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    Triumph Street Triple, an unlikely place for this bike...

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    The picture above was hanging in our hotel room... this was supposed to be the views from our Paradise View window. In actual fact, our views from the window were below:

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    It started to clear later in the afternoon - the same view in the picture above and below...

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    Later in the afternoon, we were served another fruit juice smoothie, and more crazy-cake...

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    The Sapa Paradise View Hotel also had a restaurant (where we had our complimentary breakfast) and one of the managers told us about their traditional 'hot-pot' which we had only heard about, but never sampled. We decided it was time to try out the Vietnamese hot pot and we had these two wonderful girls helping us out.

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    Later that afternoon - our laundry was delivered back to our room, all freshly folded and the rest. We enjoyed our hot-pot supper and relaxed for the rest of the evening.


    Next day - we headed from Sapa up to the Tram Ton Pass - Vietnam's highest mountain pass. :clap










    #76
  17. 1MUDDY1

    1MUDDY1 Got a Hose?

    Joined:
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    Georgia, USA
    Love the market, but where's the frozen processed food?
    I do have to say though; Amanda looks like she's ready for some McDs Double Arches in that last pic. What a trouper.:dg
    #77
  18. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
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    Day 12 - Saturday, November 16
    Distance - 234 kms = total for day ~ 9 hrs
    Trip Odometer = 1122 kms
    Route - Sapa - Son La. Sapa west on Hwy #4D then South on #32 to Than Uyen. West on #279 until road ended (not on maps) then on ferry south. South on #107? onto #6 to Son La.
    Hotel - Hanoi Hotel - Son La (800,000d = $40 w/breakfast)
    Weather - Clearing out of Sapa with a mix of clouds. Clear on Tram Ton Pass. Into clouds at lower elevations. Dry roads for most of day until nearing Son La then damp.




    After our lovely rest day in Sapa, we awoke to clearing skies. We had an excellent breakfast at the Sapa Paradise View Hotel (our hotel which finally earned it's name!), then we packed up and hit the road.

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    As I mentioned before, we were treated like royalty the minute we arrived to the Sapa PV Hotel and it continued until the moment we left. One of the managers came outside to wish us a safe trip and a fond farewell.

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    Highway 4D crept up and out of Sapa and we arrived at the Tram Ton Pass in good time as it is situated roughly 15km from Sapa. We had known that Tram Ton was Vietnam's highest mountain pass and my GPS logged it at just over 2000m in elevation. And, just as the guidebook stated, it is often cold and foggy on the Sapa side and warm and sunny dropping into the Lai Chau side. We had beautiful weather on the Tram Ton Pass.

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    The road off the Tram Ton Pass was a pleasure to ride. It had a great deal of twisty corners and beautiful vistas as we worked our way down in elevation.


    Our plan for the day was to stop in Than Uyen, but the road was in such good condition that we arrived at roughly 11:30am. We stopped for a bowl of Pho and decided to push on further south for the day. I looked on our maps and decided that Highway #279 would be a good bet to work our way south to the larger town of Son La.


    What we were about to experience was a highlight for me on our entire Vietnam adventure.

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    After working our way out of Than Uyen and along Highway #279 our road ended. Stopped. No more road. Both my Vietnam map and my GPS showed Hwy #279 only, no lake, no boats. This was true adventure.

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    Amanda asked if we were lost and I said I wasn't sure. One of the ferry boat captains came up to us and nodded us to proceed onto his boat. I said 'Son La, Son La'... and he nodded, 'Son La!', so we nodded together in confidence and proceeded to board his boat in confidence. In actual reality, we had no idea where we were headed, but it was all part of the adventure. ​

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    I have no idea where this boat is heading, but lets go!'

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    We eventually came to a large bridge crossing which showed on the map. We knew we were on Hwy #279 and came to the conclusion that the valley further north where we encountered the ferry was probably dammed and flooded at one point and this didn't show up on the maps.

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    Crossing the Song Da river (more like a lake system)

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    We arrived to a petrol station to fuel up and we had these young police officers come and check out our loaded bikes - specifically my Honda enduro. I pulled out my map book and asked them if the secondary road south #107 was suitable and then kept nodding yes, that was the best and quickest direction to go - that is what I took from the conversation anyway.

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    It was one of our longest days of riding yet. We had been traveling for roughly 9 hrs by the time we arrived to Son La. We found the 'Hanoi' Hotel in Son La just as it was starting to get dark. We put our bikes in the secure parkade complete with night guards, and checked into the hotel.


    I'm certain we could have found suitable accommodation for much cheaper in Son La, but the Hanoi Hotel was relatively easy to find and it was recommended in our guide book. It was a first to enter an elevator and to press the '5' button which brought us up to our room.

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    The front desk manager suggested a restaurant for us to eat at which was conveniently right across from the hotel. I can't remember the name, but it was very good, filled with locals and with great choices and prices, and of course, they had very cold beer.

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    This was one of my favourite days of riding. We crossed Vietnam's highest mountain pass, we had great weather, our road suddenly and very surprisingly ended which put us on a random ferry boat and we had really exciting roads all the way to Son La.


    Although the day was long, we both felt great after a long day filled with adventure...



    #78
  19. SoloSurfer

    SoloSurfer iheartwrrs

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Rossland BC, Canada
    Hey ADVers... sorry about the LARGE picture sizes... I've been trying and trying to resize them similar to most of this RR, but pasting them in from my blog is making them uber-huge regardless of what I do. Any suggestions??

    They are a good size in the blog:

    http://vietnam-top-to-bottom.blogspot.ca/
    #79
  20. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag singletrack seeker

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    308
    Location:
    Long way from East Bay
    Great RR. You've captured the appeal of this wonderful country -- the food, the scenery, the friendly people.

    Like you, we found little traffic in the north whenever we were away from cities or tourist spots. And we managed to find some bad roads, which added to the fun -- it reminded me of riding an enduro in Louisiana.

    We were in north and south Vietnam for most of March 2013 and never got rained on so I can highly recommend that time of year if you're visiting both areas. If it had been raining this road would have been REALLY fun.

    We rode for miles in these ruts. Our little motorbikes were amazing. They pulled just fine through this slop and never overheated even though we were often moving at a crawl.

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    Work in progress

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    The finished product

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    It was amazing to see the changes happening all around the country. Construction is everywhere, everyone is hard working and has a cell phone in their hand.
    #80