Vietnam: Along the Chinese Border. Real Time Report

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

  1. Steve06

    Steve06 Adventurer Supporter

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    Loving this report. I did a year in VN on the US POW/MIA mission based out of Hanoi back in 02/03. Lovely country and very gracious people.
    #81
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  2. Dillard

    Dillard Seeker Super Supporter

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    Subscribe to your toilet newsletter? Hell man I want to be a writer.

    I know you've had those weight distribution issues with the Winner, but I still like your choice of a scooter for this trip. Seems like a chill way to see the country.
    #82
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  3. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

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    Indoor plumbing is not over-rated.

    In-Great story and pix
    #83
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  4. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Day 7, Wednesday 3-April, Yen Minh to Meo Vac

    This is our second chance at seeing towering limestone karsts - we missed out the first time thru the actual Unesco site, but between Dong Van and Meo Vac is another bunch of them. It's called the Ma Pi Leng pass.

    We have 3 things planned for today:
    - Hmong Royal Palace, another local rich guy house
    - Lung Cu Tower, the northern most point in VN
    - Ma Pi Leng Pass, as mentioned above

    Had breakfast and hit the road. Light sprinkles but no real rain.

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    Electric scooters in town:

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    Scenery time:

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    Attached Files:

    #84
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  5. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Local kids, they are friendly and say 'hello':

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    Attached Files:

    #85
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  6. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Attached Files:

    #86
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  7. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    We stopped at the Hmong Palace first, lots of detailed wood work:

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    Attached Files:

    #87
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  8. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    There was an alter there:

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    Traditional offerings include oreos and coca cola:

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    Attached Files:

    #88
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  9. muf722

    muf722 Muf

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    Remember to go see the Ban Gioc waterfalls on the border to China east of Cao Bang.

    It was raining when I was there, but still beautiful.

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    I did a similar ride of northern Vietnam last month on a rental Honda CRF 300L. Sorry I had no time to post.

    advr.jpg



    PS Love your Photos.
    #89
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  10. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    The sun was peeking thru the clouds so we headed towards Lung Cu tower, about an hour north of the palace.

    About 4km from the tower the skies suddenly darkened and the temperature plummeted. We did an abrupt 180 and headed towards Dong Van as fast as we could, trying to beat the storm.

    We failed.

    The roads turned slick with mud:

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    I lost the front twice but stayed upright. One slide was long enough for me to think 'well down we go' before it stood back up.

    We crawled into Dong Van and bought some throat lozenges at a pharmacy.

    Here we are in Dong Van:

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    Tried to check the radar but we couldn't find any real time radar. The hourly weather forecast said that the likelihood of rain was increasing throughout the afternoon, so we sucked it up and headed down the Ma Pi Leng pass, hoping that visibility wouldn't be too terrible.

    Visibility was terrible.

    I was so bummed out. We came so far and so far we were 0 for 2.

    Just before the bottom of the pass we snapped this photo:

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    Attached Files:

    #90
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  11. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

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    Love this RR and the photos!! So IN! :lurk
    #91
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  12. bogriffinrides

    bogriffinrides Adventurer

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    Thank you for taking the time to include us. Love the pictures and experience. It's on my list to do. I'm much more enticed now. Great Job.
    #92
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  13. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    We rolled into our homestay in Meo Vac, started unloading the bike, and the sun came out even before the rain fully stopped.

    WTF is wrong with our luck.

    We tossed our luggage in the room, got our soggy asses back on the bike, and started backtracking north towards the pass.

    The sun had disappeared already, but the clouds were slowly lifting.

    We schlepped thru the mud again and started climbing the pass. Although visibility was far from perfect, we were really happy that we went back:

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    Attached Files:

    #93
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  14. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    We ran out of light and headed back down the pass, made it back right as dinner was served:

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    Attached Files:

    #94
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  15. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Day 8, Thursday 4-April, Meo Vac to Cao Bang

    Today is just a travel day from point A to point B, nothing special planned...

    ...so of course the weather was perfect.

    We loaded up the bike, took it off the centerstand, and the rear tire was flat. No biggie because I have a pump and a plug kit with me. Extra no biggie because there is a bike shop less than 100m away.

    I rolled the bike onto the sidewalk in front of the shop, pointed at the rear tire and made the universal 'it's flat' hand motion and hissing sound. A kid came out with an air hose and a plug kit, yanked out the piece of scrap metal, plugged it, and aired it back up. Cost $0.86 total, and took less than 5 minutes.

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    We were back on the road, headed to the Ma Pi Leng Pass for the *third* time hoping to get some real views in. As we approached the climb we could see that it was socked in again, so we did a u-turn and headed towards Cao Bang, 200km away.

    Apparently doing a 200km day here is out of the ordinary, every local we talked to thought we were crazy and that we wouldn't make it before nightfall.

    The race was on to beat the sun. Spoiler alert- we went really slow, took a couple of side trips, took a ton of photos, and still made it in time to get an oil change on the bike.

    Getting an oil change at a genuine honda dealership is much like getting a tire plug installed at a local bike shop:

    1) ride bike onto sidewalk
    2) cue up 'oil change please' on google translate
    3) show phone to someone wearing a honda shirt
    4) person wearing honda shirt yells into the chaos of the shop
    5) shop tech walks out with a liter of oil, a 17mm wrench, a pair of pliers, a dirty funnel, and a 4 quart saucepan
    6) shop tech changes oil on the sidewalk in 3 minutes, tightens oil fill plug so tight that I can no longer check the oil (it doesn't burn any anyways)
    7) pay the cashier $5.60
    8) less than 10 minutes elapse from getting off the bike to driving away with fresh oil

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    (sorry about the crappy photo, I need to document that I get the oil changed every 1000km at a genuine Honda dealership as part of the rental agreement)

    Attached Files:

    #95
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  16. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Scenery:

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    Attached Files:

    #96
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  17. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Attached Files:

    #97
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  18. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    More scenery:

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    Attached Files:

    #98
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  19. Tazui1982

    Tazui1982 Adventurer

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    Ohh man nice looking carpet but what if miss, which happens to me all the time, imagine the yellow stains on that nice flag. Unless you are telling me that you re peeing siting down.

    Attached image is my bathroom in Hanoi in case people might misunderstand sanitation.

    Attached Files:

    #99
  20. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    We stopped at a roadside store for a quick snack of chips and a coke.

    There were monkeys there:

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    At the same c-store a gentleman who was slamming a red bull (and may have been drunk at 2pm) was so happy to hear that Wafer wasn't Vietnamese that he gave us some sugar cane:

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    Allow me to explain that last paragraph.

    Wafer is ambiguously asian. She could be Vietnamese, she could be Chinese, she could be Japanese. She's actually Taiwanese.

    Anyways, out here in rural VN we sometimes get looks of disapproval. People keep asking me if she's Vietnamese, and I explain that she's Taiwanese, and all of a sudden I have new best friends. We're in a lot of photos these days, because after I explain this they want to take pictures with us.

    'Thank you for not stealing our women'

    Attached Files: