Vietnam: Along the Chinese Border. Real Time Report

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

  1. Tazui1982

    Tazui1982 Adventurer

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    Actually younger people are more and more aware of bad perception Vietnam has due to dog meat consumption and a few years ago people started asking the government to ban dog meat like Koreans did. And... i think the government is looking into it.
    #61
  2. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Day 5, Monday 1-April, Rest day in Ha Giang

    We had a rest day scheduled, which worked out well because both of us had colds at this point.

    We went to the pharmacy and purchased decongestant ($0.87),went to the local hostel and bought a Vinaphone SIM card ($6.50 for 2gb per day for 30 consecutive days), and went to the Ha Giang Immigration Office and got our permits for traveling north of Ha Giang ($10 each).

    We use an old cell phone in a waterproof pouch for navigation. Although we downloaded offline maps it was still handy to have internet access on the nav phone, so I was swapping sim cards back and forth between my two phones. For $6.50 I figured it would be a good experiment to see how the coverage compares with Viettel. They didn't bother looking at my passport. We'll see if it stays working or gets shut off in a few days.

    Coverage wise we've had zero issues with Vinaphone or Viettel here in the north.


    I'm not sure why but you need a permit to travel north of Ha Giang.

    Getting the permit is easy - you just go to the immigration office in a bright yellow government building that is adorned in red lettering; a guard points you to the correct desk.

    A 20 something Vietnamese girl wearing an official green and red uniform takes your passport and asks about your route and how long you'll be in the north. She does this without smiling. She is both intimidating and kinda hot at the same time. Giggity.

    View from our hotel room:

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    Hotel breakfast:

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    This was in the parking structure next to our bike. It's the first full size bike I've seen this trip. Both Wafer and I looked at it longingly...

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    Random Ha Giang street scene:

    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    #62
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  3. twowings

    twowings Comfortably Numb... Supporter

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    Really enjoying the stunning photography and narrative...it would be hard to make any forward progress when there is so much to see...if only Harry Truman had bothered to read the letter from Ho Chi Minh* so much heartbreak could have been avoided...the people of Vietnam are a testament to resilience and determination...



    * http://vietnamwar.lib.umb.edu/enemy/docs/Ho_letter_to_Truman_Feb_46.html
    #63
  4. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Day 6, Tuesday 2-April, Ha Giang to Yen Minh

    This is the big day - headed up to the Unesco Dong Van Karst Plateau. We've traveled 1/2way around the world to see these giant limestone karsts with tiny villages clinging to their sides.

    http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natura...bal-geoparks/viet-nam/dong-van-karst-plateau/

    We couldn't see jack shit. The plateau was totally socked in, visibility was 100ft or less the whole time. Ugh.

    BUT

    It wasn't too bad on either side at slightly lower elevations. We missed the main event, but the supporting acts were still good.

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    Attached Files:

    #64
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  5. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    [​IMG]

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    Attached Files:

    #65
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  6. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    Clearing the mountain side, the first step of building terraced fields:

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    Attached Files:

    #66
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  7. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Moto delivery:

    [​IMG]



    More panniers:

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    Yen Minh market:

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    Attached Files:

    #67
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  8. MrBob

    MrBob Cisgendered Supporter

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    How did you find the farmstay places? What type of accommodations would you recommend?
    Loving your trip.
    #68
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  9. JohnRcbr

    JohnRcbr underpowered

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    Your Winner150 is similar to a cbr150 dressed up to look like a scooter. It shares it's DNA with the cbr 125 sold in Canada from 2007 to about 2013. The transmission is a little touchy. When upshifting keep toe pressure on the shifter until after the clutch lever is released and you are getting back on the throttle. It made my bike shifts more positive. I am enjoying your report. thanks for taking the time to post.
    #69
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  10. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    We have a love-hate relationship with the homestays and farmstays.

    Love:
    + Most places offer a family style meal, which is the absolute best way to meet people. The food has been great too.
    + It's great to meet other travelers and get their first hand opinion on routes and restaurants and to hear their stories of traveling throughout SE Asia and the rest of the world.
    + The hosts are equally fascinating, most are really outgoing and eager to share their culture and also learn about where you live.
    + The farmstay was especially nice because it was so quiet, which is a true luxury here.

    The downsides are:
    - the common bathrooms (especially the 'whole bathroom is a shower' style, which is really common here, even in luxury hotels)
    - the general lack of cleanliness (this applies to all hotels here except luxury hotels, not just homestays)
    - Bugs. So many bugs. Same as above, if you aren't in a luxury hotel you're going to get bitten by mosquitos and/or bedbugs if you don't put on insect repellent.
    - Germs. Shared common spaces and bathrooms increases the chance of getting sick from other people.

    Most of the other travelers are European kids in their twenties, or empty nesters in their late 50s and early 60s. Wafer and I both in our 40s and don't have kids so we are free to travel (on our limited vacation), but we don't see many people traveling who are in their 30s, 40s, or early 50s.


    "Whole bathroom is a shower" :

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    This is the tile inlay. Yes someone actually saw this at the tile shop and said to themselves "I want this on my bathroom wall for the next 20-30 years":

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    This is the greatest faucet ever:

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    I have no idea why there are so many bugs inside this place:

    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    #70
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  11. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    More on the lodging situation:

    Luxury hotels here are very reasonably priced - we are spending the next 3 nights in the executive suite on the top floor of the nicest hotel in Cao Bang for $44usd per night. A standard room with a private bath would be $25 or so.

    Most small towns don't have luxury hotels tho, they mostly have homestays, guesthouses (a motel/hostel hybrid with shared bathrooms), and basic hotels.

    My suggestion- in any major town stay in the nicest place you can. Sometimes you need a break from the chaos.

    In the small towns try the homestays, they are the same quality/cleanliness as a guesthouse or a budget motel (aka not clean), as long as you can deal with the shared bathroom.

    Here's Wafer on mosquito patrol at a basic hotel a few nights ago.

    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    #71
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  12. LeeGro

    LeeGro Adventurer

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    Sorry if this has been asked previously, but what camera are you using? Exposure and dynamic range look great
    #72
  13. WrldRiderWC

    WrldRiderWC Adventurer

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    excellent trip report... keep it coming.
    #73
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  14. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    Nice write up and pics. Thanks! Never made it up north but in 89 went back to south VN as a civilian for a couple months. Wonderful time.
    Thanks for sharing your trip.
    #74
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  15. Dillard

    Dillard Seeker Super Supporter

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    "whole bathroom is a shower" is high on my list of hated things in this world. So many countries I've visited have this. Frustrating but.....travel.

    Great report and pics. Good luck with the bugs.
    #75
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  16. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    It definitely helps - have also been preloading the shift lever very slightly, and between the two techniques I can do the 1-2 shift successfully about 75pct of the time, and the 2-3 3-4 is a lot more positive. Thanks!
    #76
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  17. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Get this - it's a google pixel 3 cell phone camera.

    Every photo above is straight out of the camera except the sunset over Bac Ha, it didn't get the white balance correct on that one.

    Even the toad picture is uncorrected, and it was backlit and has been cropped massively.

    Original:

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    Crop:

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    Here's an even tighter crop:

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    Not too bad for a cell phone, handheld, at night...

    Attached Files:

    #77
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  18. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Yes I'm not usually one to say '....but in America....'

    BUT

    In America we do bathrooms (especially showers) better.

    [​IMG]

    America - Fuck Yeah!

    Attached Files:

    #78
  19. Dillard

    Dillard Seeker Super Supporter

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    Never thought I'd be envious of another man's toilet seat cover, but here we are....
    #79
  20. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Would you like to subscribe to my newsletter -

    Plumbing 'Round the World?

    Baja:

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    Our current luxury hotel in VN:

    (it's leaking)

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    And saving the best for last - Northern India.

    Inside:

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    Outside:

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    Attached Files:

    #80
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