Vietnam: Along the Chinese Border. Real Time Report

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mb300, Mar 27, 2019.

  1. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Nope, it would be waaayy too big here, and you wouldn't be able to get tubes or tires or levers for it.

    Here's what you need for a motorbike tour in VN:

    Puncture resistant tires
    Tires with good wet grip
    Soft suspension with as much travel as possible
    A nice comfy seat
    Good ergonomics
    Narrow
    Tight turning radius
    Good lights
    Loud horn

    The speeds here are REALLY slow. In the cities you go between 20 and 40kph, the country is 40-60kph, and the main roads are 60-70kph.

    But none of these speeds are sustainable for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time - there are endless tight corners, the corners are covered in gravel and cow manure, there is a bus coming at you for no reason, there is every farm animal known to man wandering across the road at any given time, there are dogs lying in the road for no reason, etc etc etc.

    You just can't cover ground quickly here, so there is no need for a fast bike.

    An XR150 is a great bike here, the only problem is that it is a little cramped for someone who is 6' tall, and the springs are so soft that I lose 50pct of the travel just sitting on it.

    I can't help but think that the old Kawi Super Sherpa would be the perfect bike here - air cooled, big displacement, counter balanced, low compression, carb'd. BUT since they never imported them there are no parts.

    The XR150 is really the only game in town if you are 5'10" or up.
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  2. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Day 12 continued

    We left Lang Son at 11:15am, about an hour after the rain stopped.

    The roads were mostly dry for a bit, but within an hour we had caught the backside of the shower and were on wet muddy roads for at least 50km.

    The bike needs a good washing when we get back to Hanoi. Note the chicken strips - this is all the lean angle you'll ever use on theae roads.

    [​IMG]


    We tried to get hot tea in Cam Pha but it was too late in the day, both tea places we tried only had iced tea and smoothies. Don't drink anything with ice here.

    Plan B was the usual - potato chips, coca cola, and twinkies. They have these awesome little twinkie-type rolls here, they are normally by the rest of the junk food and you grab a couple out of the dispensing box and they charge you accordingly.

    This time the dispensing box was still sealed so we pointed at it and asked if we could open it and she said 'yes' so we opened it and took out 4 twinkies and tried to buy them. The cashier looked at us confused and put the whole dispensing box in a bag and we said no no no just 4 and she indicated no no no whole box so we bought 22 twinkies.

    [​IMG]


    $2.50 well spent.

    We took our twinkies down to the ocean for a fine meal with a view.

    [​IMG]

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  3. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    We had our twinkie lunch at Cam Pha bay (above), below is Ha Long bay:

    [​IMG]


    Arrested Development Stair Car?

    [​IMG]


    Sweet:

    [​IMG]



    This was in the parking garage of our hotel:

    [​IMG]

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  4. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Tonight's taste test:

    Tea vs Saigon Special vs Harbin

    [​IMG]


    Tea wins of course.

    Harbin gets 1 point for being a pull tab.

    [​IMG]

    We had Chinese food for dinner. It was delicious:

    [​IMG]

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  5. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Day 13, Tuesday 9-April, Day trip to Cat Ba Island

    At the ferry terminal to Cat Ba:

    [​IMG]

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  6. steved57

    steved57 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Really enjoying this report and pics
  7. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    From yesterday - these are the powerplants they use for everything here. Tilling, tractor, powering water pumps, etc etc.

    It's a video because the sound is important, it's the soundtrack to rural vietnam.

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  8. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Back to today, real time - we took the big ferry from Ha Long to Cat Ba island. We crossed the island to Ben Bau, where we were going to park the bike then hop on the ferry to Viet Hai (the red pin) and back:

    [​IMG]


    BUT

    Instead a nice lady said that we can ride the supply boat there WITH our bike. $8.70.

    Sold.

    Next problem - how do we load the bike onto that boat way down there?

    No problem:

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  9. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    We're now waiting for the boat to depart. The nice lady who habla'd english has wandered off to find more people to put on the boat.

    Random scooters keep showing up with cargo, which the crew is loading onto the boat.

    I wandered up to the local c-store for some supplies myself:

    [​IMG]

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  10. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    Awesome. I be in Hai phong in 27 days for my engagement and wedding. We are taking everyone over to viet hai village and staying at the whispering nature bungalows for a couple nights and then down to da nang for another three nights. Once my parents and friend’s head home and my fiancé’s family goes back to Hai phong we are picking up a Honda crf250l rental in Hanoi and riding out to Melia Bavi mountain retreat for a few days. It’s in the mountains west of Hanoi. We will do some riding around as well.

    I haven’t read all your posts yet but I can recommend Ninh Binh as another nice place to go. About and hour and a half south west of Hai phong.

    My fiancé is Vietnamese and 5’ tall 48kg. I’m 6’3” tall and 230#. Ive ridden on the back of her scooter with a convection oven in my lap and her driving. We got a lot of looks. :)
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  11. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Here's a better photo - because twinkies are included in every meal now:

    [​IMG]

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  12. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    And we're off

    [​IMG]

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  13. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    Do me a favor? When you head up the road to viet hai village see if the old road is flooded or not. If it’s not I’d really love to see what the tunnel through the mountain looks like. I’ve been there a couple of times and it’s always been flooded.
  14. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Voila:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This was our impromptu plan:

    Ferry to Viet Hai with the bike, then moto back to town:

    [​IMG]

    BUT when we got into town we learned that there was no road (at least that was our interpretation of what the guy was saying), so we hauled ass back to the dock to jump back on the boat before it departed.

    We talked to a couple of backpackers on the boat, they said that it was a 4 hour hike to get to town over the closed road.

    I had another beer to celebrate our glamorous return...

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  15. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    Awesome!

    I bet it looked something like this:

    [​IMG]

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  16. mb300

    mb300 Been here awhile

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    I've never named a boat before, but when I do, it will not be named MANH PHUC:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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  17. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    Pretty close...only with a Gorilla holding the box in its lap while wearing an upside down salad bowl for a helmet.
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  18. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    Thanks for snapping the photos of that lower road....The last two times we were there that lower road was under at least a foot (30.5cm) of water and given the number of snakes and creepy crawly things on Cat Ba i was less than excited about going for a walk to check it out. looked like this:

    IMG_4618.JPG

    Also, had I realized your plan was to ride the "road" from Viet Hai West to the next village I would have warned you....oops. I am not sure if motorbikes are even allowed on it....last time we were there I hiked to the start of it and there might have been a sign posted saying it was a protected area. However it does look like it would be a fantastic trail to mountain bike on or rip through on a proper woods moto....in another world.

    IMG_4653.JPG
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  19. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    Oh...and as far as bathrooms go....just be glad you haven't had the pleasure of one of these setups yet....seen a few that didn't even have doors (Though technically I suspect they are a lot healthier for you to use) IMG_3809.JPG
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  20. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    Ok, nuff of a thread hijack. :lurk