Flying to Vietnam today

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by easyrider11, Feb 1, 2020.

  1. easyrider11

    easyrider11 Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
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    White Salmon, WA
    @Sideoff and I are in Seattle waiting to board a plane to Hong Kong as I type - and yes, I am sporting a face mask. Duh!

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    Our trip began a few hours ago as we scurried around Portland gathering last minute supplies and finally, dropped our car off for safe keeping at our friends Joe and Becky’s house - they gave us a ride to the airport, thanks friends!

    Here we are at PDX with our pile of gear, about to check in.

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    Our itinerary goes something like this...

    PDX>HKG>HANOI

    Pretty easy, especially considering we didn’t have tickets, bikes, or any planning for this trip as of 3 weeks ago. In fact, we were prepared for another trip entirely. I guess staying liquid is always good - because yes, plans do change.

    Last year, about this same time, @Sideoff and I were flying to Ethiopia. You can check out our 2019 rr here:

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/flying-to-ethiopia-today.1361713/

    It was an ‘epic ride’ indeed. After our trip last year we kept the bikes in hopes of returning this winter for another ride, we planned to explore a few of the neighboring countries and the far NE corner of Ethiopia, which we didn’t see previously.

    We had flights booked Feb 1. As February got closer, the guys holding our bikes - Fistum and Babé - got harder and harder to get ahold of. Then they stopped responding altogether. We don’t know what happened, and at a certain point, (about three weeks before the trip) we decided there wasn’t much more we could do to find out where our bikes might be. Maybe we’ll never know what happened. It stings, but we’ll chalk it up to the exciting and mysterious world of buying and selling motorbikes in other countries.

    So! Enter Vietnam. About 3 weeks ago, we pulled the plug on our return trip to Ethiopia, and redirected our flights to Hanoi, Vietnam instead. There we have two Honda XR150s waiting, and 4 weeks free to travel. Vietnam makes it easy: in an hour we had flights booked (free with miles), bikes in Hanoi ($500 apiece for the month), and 30 day multiple-entry visas ($155 apiece).

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    A plane ticket, a passport and a visa. That’s about all you REALLY need for a trip like this.

    Oh, and I guess having your own helmet is nice too (:

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    Looking forward to keeping up with another rr on this trip. It was something I enjoyed a lot during our winter ride through Ethiopia last year - that was my first rr experience, and I was fascinated by the impact it had on my trip. Like a little diary, the reason to chronicle all of the sounds, smells and thoughts of my day. I really enjoyed sharing with you all. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I can’t wait to do it again!

    That is, if the nCoV doesn’t take me out mid-trip.

    I was cracking up today thinking about the people who believe the coronavirus’ cause to be Corona... the Mexican beer.

    Google searches reveal this alarming fact. SMH.

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/...e-think-coronavirus-is-related-to-corona-beer

    I guess it’s a good thing I’m off the juice - no Coronas for me!
    #1
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  2. johnnywheels

    johnnywheels Been here awhile Supporter

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    Three time zones and an early Sunday morning wake up call from birds chirping outside my window mean I have the honor of being the first to wish you safe travels. Thanks in advance for sharing!
    #2
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  3. MTBRALPH

    MTBRALPH Been here awhile

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    I keep reading these ride reports about trips in exotic locations and have just assumed that the cost is way out of reach. Just now I read the price you posted for renting the bikes for a month and thought mmmmmmm. I checked air fares to Hanoi and found it is possible for me. Retiring next year. Viet Nam here I come.

    Thanks for opening my eyes,
    Ralph
    #3
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  4. beemerjim

    beemerjim Been here awhile Supporter

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    w mass
    My daughter's in Viet Nam right now, and loving it. Have a great trip.
    #4
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  5. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    This should be good. Count me in.
    #5
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  6. CoupleMoreCorners

    CoupleMoreCorners The Dude abides.

    Joined:
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    Oregon Territory
    Can’t wait to see a loaded down 150, and the rest of the report!
    #6
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  7. thirsty 1

    thirsty 1 Rider Supporter

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    :thumbup:thumbup :lurk
    #7
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  8. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile

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    Saint Simons Island GA
    I'm in. Avoid the bat soup, or is it snake... Good luck and have fun.
    #8
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  9. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    After your last report, I’m so looking forward to another.
    Thanks and be safe.
    BB
    #9
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  10. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

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    Rosenberg, TX
    Who was that Masked Sidekick :lol3
    #10
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  11. Sideoff

    Sideoff Long timer

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    Traveling to Hanoi via Hong Kong, reminders of the coronavirus are everywhere. Most people on the plane were masked.

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    6 of the 7 stories on the plane’s LCD screen news app were about the virus. The 7th was about terrorism. Some nice relaxing airplane reading. Especially when the lady seated directly behind me is having a coughing fit every 20 minutes. Every time someone visibly
    coughs or sneezes, everyone nearby looks kind of downward and sideways at them, like ‘wonder if that’s the virus?’

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    Temperature screening before security in Hong Kong.

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    We tried to buy dust masks at our local Ace hardware & drugstore in White Salmon, WA before we left but they were completely sold out. It’s hard to find surgical or dust masks anywhere at the moment. They’re sold out here in Hanoi too. Anticipating that, we brought these neoprene masks that were left over from Burning Man. I’m not convinced they do anything to prevent the virus but they’re very fashionable.

    Ash wore her mask the whole time. I was a bit lazier. In the Hong Kong airport 95%+ of the people - foreigners too - were masked. It’s pretty hard to understand people when they try to speak through their masks, especially if there’s already a language barrier. I started feeling weird about not wearing mine, so I finally put it on.

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    This is what our kit looks like for a month long fly in trip. We each have 1 helmet bag, 1 carry-on, and two checked bags. One of the checked bags contains personal stuff (clothes etc), the other contains a Reckless 80, tools, and some riding gear. It looks like a lot but it’s actually not all that much stuff once it’s packed on the bike.

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    At the Hanoi airport we got local SIMs and some VN currency. Then we realized we didn’t have a place to stay yet, so we had coffee and booked something on our phones.

    If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel in Vietnam you’ve probably tried this 3-in-1 instant coffee. As delicious as it is, the label is even more memorable. A fancy couple exiting their helicopter , except like, stock photos awkwardly cropped and photoshopped. It’s so bad it’s good. The coffee is also like that.

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    We found Tigit Motorbikes without difficulty. This is the best organized rental place I’ve ever seen in SE Asia. We were in & out in 20 mins, with what seem so far to be very good condition late model Honda XR150s. Pickup in Hanoi, drop off in Ho Chi Minh City at no extra charge. In addition to the $450 rental charge and $50 insurance, there’s also a $1,000 per bike deposit that gets returned when you return the bike. They have 600 motorbikes and scooters in their rental fleet, spread out over multiple offices in VN. The moto-rental business for backpackers is booming in Vietnam. When I did my fist moto trip here 20 years ago, it was a relatively unusual thing to do. Now there are thousands of foreign travelers darting all over SE Asia on two wheels. It’s so cool.

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    Back at the hotel we test-mounted our bags and consolidated and eliminated unnecessary tools to save weight. The bikes come with an OEM tool kit that covers most of the basic sizes.

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    We’re jet lagged and it’s raining, but it sure feels great to be here. Tomorrow we’ll do some pre-trip errands, and maybe check out some tourist stuff too if we have time. Then we’ll hit the road Wed morning.

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    Stoked to tag-team with Ash on another RR!
    #11
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  12. third eye

    third eye back road loon Supporter

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    following along! I did two moto tours there last year, you can give me flashbacks :lol3
    #12
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  13. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

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    PRESCOTT VALLEY AZ
    I'M IN!
    #13
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  14. Lost Roadie

    Lost Roadie Rider Supporter

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    Oct 15, 2006
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    Location:
    Sequoia National Forest
    Following along also, I must have just missed you two at Tigit... just dropped off my bike.

    It will be great to see another perspective of the country on two wheels while the many smells are still fresh in my mind.

    PM sent with a little info.


    đi du lịch an toàn bạn của tôi
    #14
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  15. 95Monster

    95Monster Long timer

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    Los Angeles
    Awesome! Following along and hope to run into you guys somewhere. I’m in southern Laos now, headed towards Cambodia. I may return my bike to Tigit in HCMC but left a bag in their Hanoi office so will probably just go back there. Ride safe. Hanoi traffic takes a minute :)))
    #15
  16. Sideoff

    Sideoff Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hood River, OR
    After getting the bikes in Hanoi, we spent a mellow day just processing our jet lag, packing up, getting the bags situated on our bikes, and dealing with last minute logistics like getting a visa for Laos and tracking down some supplies.

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    This is inside the Laos embassy in Hanoi. They processed our visas in about 30 minutes, although we heard from people who’d been there that morning that the turnaround was more like 5 hours for them.

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    Note to future Laos travelers: in January 2020 - a month ago - they stopped issuing visas on arrival at many Laos land borders. Travelers are getting turned around and sent back to the embassy Hanoi.

    In Hanoi we weren’t feeling motivated to do tourist stuff. Maybe it was because of the weather, or maybe we’re just not city people anymore. Since we stopped drinking a few years ago, city visits are less exciting than they were. Drinking and partying - then sleeping in and doing it again - was mostly what we did in the city. It’s different now.

    On the advice of a (new) friend, we decided to head North from Hanoi and check out the roads along the Northern Vietnam border with China. It’s mountainous there, and supposed to be very cool. We circled some spots on the map.

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    The next morning, we woke up to more damp weather and cooler temps. Still: stoked to be on the bikes!

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    On the road North from Hanoi, the rain picked up a lot. After an hour or so of getting pummeled by rain and splattered by trucks, we stopped under a bridge to regroup and check the forecast. It was rain, rain, and more rain for the next 4-5 days up north. Then we checked the forecast for Laos and it was all sunshine and warmth. Even though we were still dry and comfortable at that point, we knew it wouldn’t last. Plus even going west, there was still a day or two of wet riding ahead.

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    We decided to bag it and head west toward Laos instead. We are bummed to miss the far North on this trip, but maybe we can go North in Laos instead.

    The small country roads west of Hanoi were a welcome change from the city’s urban sprawl. The rain let up, and so did the traffic. We rode through rolling hills and terraced rice patties, with beautiful scenery and many friendly faces and welcoming waves.

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    We landed in a small town called Canh Nang for the night, and found dinner ($2.50) and a decent room ($8).

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    Now it’s 5am and I’m awake long before I want to be, drinking coffee and pecking out this report. Early AM wake-ups are a recurring problem when I travel. Ash, on the other hand, is sound asleep as usual.

    We’re about 65km of winding mountain roads away from the border. When Ash is up, we’ll break out a paper map and see what looks interesting in Northern Laos. Any advice appreciated!
    #16
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  17. Sideoff

    Sideoff Long timer

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    Yeah that would be great, we’d love to meetup somewhere! We left bags at Tigit in Hanoi too. We’re planning to fly back from hcmc, dart into Hanoi by taxi to retrieve bags, then return to the Hanoi airport for our flights on the 29th. Who knows though, seems like a long time from now! Hope your trip is going awesome man!
    #17
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  18. third eye

    third eye back road loon Supporter

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    Concord, CA
    get ready to see more kids on the roadside waving and saying hello.....SO cool!!!
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  19. SparkyYP

    SparkyYP Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2018
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    Location:
    Canada


    I'll be following along with jealousy, South East Asia is amazing. So much to see and do, and the cheap street food is my favorite!
    #19
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  20. Sideoff

    Sideoff Long timer

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    Right on thanks for the comments!

    We’re at a coffee shop in San Nuea Laos right now about to hit the road. We posted up here for a day to regroup now that we’re out of Hanoi and out of the rain. We weren’t planning to head straight into Laos, but here we are.

    We’re generally planning to head northwest from here and see if we can get off the main roads a bit. I remember this from the last time I was here: there are huge areas of the country with no roads or settlement. Just river access. And a lot of dead end side roads that just stop at a village or a river. We’re looking for an interesting backroad loop somewhere at the north end of the country near the China/Vietnam/Myanmar/Thailand borders. Geographically it’s a really neat spot, with so many borders in such close proximity.

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    Yesterday we walked around the local market here in town. I’m pretty sure the standing advice right now is to stay out of wet markets in Asia due to the virus, but this was a just small one (‘just the tip’ ).

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    Then we went to the Vieng Xai caves, which was a headquarters for the Laos communist party during the Vietnam war. It’s a pretty amazing complex of semi-developed caves that were occupied by tens of thousands of people for 9 years. There’s an audio tour, with headphones and stuff.

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    Then we overate Indian food and called it a night. Pretty sweet room for $20 here in San Nuea, with indoor bike storage.

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    Next stop: no idea.
    #20
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