Vietnam: Along the Chinese Border. Real Time Report

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Lost Cartographer, Mar 27, 2019.

  1. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    756
    Location:
    AZ and CA
    Thanks everyone for the positive comments; but again I really need to emphasize the caveat on my political/social commentary in this thread - I'm looking at things thru the eyes of an outsider.

    What I see isn't necessarily how things are, it's how I'm interpreting what I see.
    Mofrid, Sal Pairadice, jowul and 7 others like this.
  2. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Face Plant

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    468
    Location:
    Frozen Prairies USA
    Fantastic report, and the pictures....breathtaking. Thanks to both of you for sharing your adventures.
    Lost Cartographer likes this.
  3. crashkorolyk

    crashkorolyk just happy to ride

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    246
    Location:
    vancouver island
    Great R.R. and pictures,thanks for sharing your adventures!
    Lost Cartographer likes this.
  4. Ride Sally Ride

    Ride Sally Ride Is that what you're wearing? Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,448
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Thanks for taking the time to write up a report! I really appreciated your words and photos. Vietnam is already on my list with my husband and this report makes me want to go even more!
  5. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,771
    Location:
    Deleted
    I'm flying to Hanoi on the 6th and getting married on the 12th. I've been going to visit my fiance and her family regularly over the last two years and this is the first time my parents will meet everyone. I have seen a bunch of the country and experienced both good and bad.

    random observations
    - Trash and sewer is a huge problem but I think it is easy to overlook the simple fact that Vietnam is basically going through its own industrial revolution.
    - The USA in this same time period suffered from equally disturbing pollution only we had the benefit of not having discovered plastic yet and excessive consumption of cheap crap.
    - There are 93 million people in Vietnam living in a land mass thats about 60% the size of California.
    - The Communist government operates in its own way and I don't really understand how they actually fund things as there is not a tax structure like we Westerners are used to. My fiance simply says they government relies on investment but its a bit of a gray area to me.
    - The government runs on charitable donations. "Sir we can do this document for you but it will take a year. If you need it sooner there is a $1500 fee to expedite the document."
    - Manybuildings are made from brick covered in a plaster which makes it appear to be concrete. While its amazing to watch them build something I also fear for the country if they ever have a significant earthquake....
    - buildings are not insulated....so that winter while not as cold as places in the rest of the world....can feel quite cold after while because everything just has a chill to it.
    - utilities are a nightmare. Water has to be boiled, every electrical circuit looks like an electrocution waiting to happen.

    - Vietnamese people are awesome.
    - They get 5 days off for the "Kings Holiday" which is also a celebration of when the Americans left the country.
    - There is definitely an old way of thinking and a new way of thinking. Luckily my fiance's family is open to the new way and have accepted me into the family.

    On a personal level I'd really like to figure out how to help the country solve some of its pollution issues. I haven't really figured out how to be useful in this yet but I think that the new generation is being taught about cleaning up and recycling etc....hopefully this helps push changes towards improving life in the country.

    My Fiance leaving for work...Vietnam ATGATT. Facemask critical for avoiding consumption of dust but unfortunately does nothing to filter out the god awful amount of carcinogenic exhaust that is one of the hidden but deadly pollutants in all the cities.

    upload_2019-4-23_14-37-45.png
  6. Tazui1982

    Tazui1982 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Vietnam
    Don't worry about helping Vietnam, words on the streets are that Mr Trump asked our Party leader Trong to come over for a visit to discuss China problems. if our countries can make a deal, all will be sweet, of course all of the problems you described will remain the same but they are tiny tiny problems comparing with our China problem.

    Sucks that you had to deal with bribery and under table money to get things done, maybe because you are a foreigner but for people like me I never had to pay a dime, well except paying cops off that is when I do 65kmh on 40kmh restricted residential area lol. Other than that I work for multinationals and my kids go to private school so we never have to deal with local government leeches.

    As for taxation part, about 50% of 10m people in the workforce have to pay social, medical and unemployment insurance. That's a lot of money, then you have private sector paying enterprise tax of 21% on after expense profit and finally consumers paying 10% gst. So the government does have so income. Theres also government owned businesses which always and always lose billions of dollars per year, so you are right about gray area there, nobody knows in Vietnam, and we don't wanna find out if we wanna carry on living freely. Now I am not sure how your government handles that money but ours use all that money to invest in real estate projects for benefit. 4 years ago there was a huge scandal and labour minister was jailed for mismanagement of funds aka he bought mansions all over places.

    You're definitely right about VN are awesome, well some are not though lol ...
  7. advantagecp

    advantagecp Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    62
    Location:
    Cape Carteret, NC
    [/QUOTE]
    Generally, you can enter both Laos and Cambodia with Viet plates. However, some border crossings are a no-no, people didn't manage to enter those two countries at minor, more local crossings. But at places like Moc Bai near Saigon, and similar major crossings it shouldn't be a problem. There is more about it online...
    [/QUOTE]

    You can enter Laos and Cambodia with a Vietnamese-plated bike if you have the blue card, so you can't do it on a rented bike (edit: I have learned that Tigit will let you take the blue card with you when you rent. This raises the value of that rental in my opinion). I used the Na Meo crossing to go to Laos from Vietnam. When I tried to go from Laos to Cambodia I was denied due to the scam being run at the crossing just south of 4000 Islands. So I headed north, cut over into Vietnam, hung out at Kon Tum for a few days, then went south to Pleiku, and then due west to an uneventful border crossing into Cambodia.

    I found the Vietnamese side of crossings to be somewhat more professional and prosperous looking than the Lao or Cambodians. But they are not terribly serious about it. Example: When crossing back into Vietnam from Cambodia the last time. I had to go inside, do some paperwork, and pass my backpack through an X-ray. Then it registered to the guy that I had a motorcycle (Honda XR250) outside with a bigger backpack strapped on the luggage rack. The guy looked at it from 50 feet away and asked "Vietnam moto?" I said yes, and that was that.

    Nobody tried to charge me any extra fees or wanted any bribes. The Laos to Cambodia crossing was one of those where the two outposts were very close together. I had heard that there might be an issue so I parked my bike and told the Lao guys that I was going over to the Cambodians to ask a question. The Cambodians told me that I could not take my bike from Laos into Cambodia. This is just a scam where there are people there to give a lowball price for the typical Honda Win while the tourist catches the next bus. Hell no. I backtracked and entered Cambodia through Vietnam as mentioned above.

    I would encourage anyone to visit Vietnam. The riding is great and the people are the friendliest that I have encountered anywhere. I have visited 4 times and will probably go again in 2020.
  8. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,569
    Location:
    Da Lat, Vietnam
    Tigit is a sound rental/purchase company and Jonathan, it's owner, is a stand-up guy. Good choice.

    Viettel is the best phone company for traveling in VN. As you've found, service almost everywhere.

    Uber got out of SE Asia last year, selling out to Grab. Regular taxis are okay if you stick to VinaSun (usually white cabs) and MaiLinh (usually green) and make sure the meter's turned on. Occasionally, they'll go a bit out-of-the-way, but in ~5 years, that's only happened to me once. Even so, 200,000 VND (<US$9) will get you almost anywhere inside Hanoi, DaNang, or Saigon; less elsewhere, so it's hard to get hurt.

    Yes, I'm in late. Following. Those who will visit VN, give me a holler if you are anywhere near Dalat.
  9. RowBust

    RowBust Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Oddometer:
    955
    Yeah you're right pollution really is a problem. The amount of garbage you see along the sides of the roads is bad but I think it's an attitude problem. Once when I was on a bus there was a girl throwing up into a plastic bag she handed the bag to a Vietnamese guy near her and he threw it out the window, when the girl protested he shrugged his shoulders and replied "Vietnam "
    Lost Cartographer and 9Realms like this.
  10. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,569
    Location:
    Da Lat, Vietnam
    WRONG! My wife is Vietnamese and neither she nor our daughter (biologically, she's all VN, BUT the locals all think I contributed) EVER have a problem with or get any grief from the locals. In fact, most tell her she's lucky to have a "rich" (it's all relative) foreigner husband who treats her well.

    Re "the communists" not affecting the country folks, you should've quit while you were behind. The government affects EVERYONE in any given country, ESPECIALLY in the so-called Communist-run ones, if only in that the upper levels get the cream while everyone else gets the sludge.

    Since you've never been here, I suggest you wait until you have before weighing in. What you know about Vietnam apparently wouldn't fill a thimble.
  11. gps1990

    gps1990 gps1990

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Tempe, AZ
    Wow, Thanks so much for sharing your adventure, and insights (very generous of you). Can't wait for the next trip!
  12. taranaki

    taranaki trailer park royalty

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,545
    Location:
    57 Mt. Pleasant Street
    Outstanding report. Was 10 days (no Moto) last year Hanoi, Danang, Hoi An. Really longing to return after looking through this.

    pho for breakfast = good living! IMG_20190329_075705.jpg
    jays100 and Dillard like this.
  13. victorlaszlo

    victorlaszlo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    294
    Location:
    London
    That's Long Biên Bridge, I rode it last week of February 2019!



    And it's been rebuilt a lot, from Wiki:

    Lost Cartographer likes this.
  14. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    923
    Location:
    Annapolis, MD
    We do a big epic trip every year and this one may have just risen to the top of our bucket list. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure and the humble and respectful manner of your exploration there.
    Lost Cartographer likes this.
  15. victorlaszlo

    victorlaszlo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    294
    Location:
    London
    Sorry for hijacking, I think the traffic is even worse down south, this is on the way back to Saigon / HCMC from the Mekong delta, afternoon rush hour, on the QL50, this road is NOT one-way:

    Tazui1982 and Lost Cartographer like this.
  16. stef25

    stef25 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    173
    Location:
    Your mom's house
    That Vu Linh place you mentioned in your first posts - I stayed there in 2016 and it was hilarious. Quite hard to find and there was basically nobody there apart from two german guys who looked like they'd been there for years. "Yeah grab yourself some beers".

    Eventually some staff showed up and they did cook a delicious meal. But it really wasn't the "ecolodge" they made it seem to be.

    This was my second time in Vietnam on a motorbike. First time was back in 2003 on a Minsk, from Hanoi to Sapa. The second time I rented a bike from Flamingo Travel. They have much better machines than those little Honda scooters. Good people.

    The north of Vietnam is nothing but stunning.
    Lost Cartographer likes this.
  17. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,771
    Location:
    Deleted
    I'm thinking of picking up an Insta360 one x camera and doing some filming while in country this time. If so I'll post up a new thread elsewhere and try to put a little travelogue video together.
    Lost Cartographer likes this.
  18. Tazui1982

    Tazui1982 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Vietnam
    Traffic in Saigon scared the life outta me when I was there in 2018, so yeah. I actually discussed this traffic topic with my wife today when we got stuck in Hanoi traffic for hours getting cut off by bus, trucks and bikes but we agreed that Saigon was 2x worse.
    Lost Cartographer likes this.
  19. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,771
    Location:
    Deleted
    We were in Hanoi last year and took a cab from the movie theatre to our hotel around 5pm. We got stuck at an interesection for 30 minutes because all 4 roads were blocked.....due to the fact that scooters didnt want to wait in traffic and decided to just ride ahead in the opposing lane (SOP) however in doing so this resulted in both lanes at each intersecting road being filled by riders facing the wrong way and no ability for anyone to actuall cross the intersection...which was also pretty much full of jammed vehicles. I considered getting out an walking.....but my door was blocked by a scooter and scooters were wall to wall on the buildings. we watched one person try to walk across the intersection and he was literally climbing over bikes. It was impressive.
  20. RowBust

    RowBust Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Oddometer:
    955
    Yeah, I've seen it when even the pedestrians couldn't move