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15th August 2017

"
Home Sweet Home"

I am now back home in Nha Trang after a tiring southern road trip. I spent last night in Mui Ne and rode the final leg to Nha Trang today. Overall the trip was not that interesting and I will certainly not be doing it again.
I now have 2 weeks to rest (other than fly to Saigon next week - I am going to have a pizza and beer with Harry) before I fly to Hanoi for my 10 day solo "Great Northern Vietnam Loop" road trip starting and finishing in Hanoi.

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13th August 2017

Vung Tau

Yesterday was an eventfull day as I had my first Vietnam motorbike accident (something I new would eventually happen) - a car ran me off the road into a concrete barrier - the bike got damaged and I got a large gash in my leg (stitched up in Vung Tau hospital). The bike has already been fixed by the wonderful local Honda dealership. I am here for 2 days but the plan to spend time on the beach has been cancelled due to my leg injury - so I will just spend today relaxing and ride on to Mui Ne tomorrow.

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11th August 2017

Can Tho

After a hard day of riding I am in Can Tho and this time I did not miss the afternoon thunderstoarm and got soaked - the laneway my hotel is in became a canal about 300mm deap.
The roads south of Ho Chi Minh city are like a spiders web with the only direct road towards Can Tho is a new tollway that does not allow motorbikes.
Tomorrow I travel on to Vung Tau and according to Google Maps it will involve more than 6 hours on the bike. I am spending 2 nights in Vung Tau so I will get a rest day.

Flooded Can Tho Street
Flooded Can Tho Street

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10th August 2017

Ho Chi Minh City

I am now in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on day 3 of my southern road trip after spending last night in Bao Loc. The ride into Saigon was "interesting" with major traffic jams for the last 20 kilometres or so - the motorbikes take to the footpath in heavy traffic so it became an "Urban Motocross" ride from road to footpath and back again on many occasions. I eventually found my hotel despite the traffic, a wayward GPS and Google Maps telling me that most of the time I was not even on any road.

Floating Village Between Bao Loc and Ho Chi Minh City
Floating Village Between Bao Loc and Ho Chi Minh City

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8th August 2017

Dalat

I am now in Dalat (again) and this time the weather for the ride up was warm and wonderful - although just as I got to Dalat a large thunderstorm arrived but I beat it to my hotel (The Thanh Thao Hotel - my regular Dalat hotel) with time to spare (about 5 seconds). I had planned to take a drone video of Xuan Huong Lake but the storm killed that idea (maybe in the morning if the weather is fine).

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4th August 2017

On The Road Again

Next Tuesday I leave on another solo motorbike road trip "The Southern Loop" from Nha Trang to Dalat, Bao Loc, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Vung Tau, Mui Ne and finally back to Nha Trang - 7 nights away (2 nights in Vung Tau). According to Google Maps a distance of 1,267 kilometres.

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25th July 2017

Dalat

Today I rode up to Dalat from Nha Trang and it is unusually cold - the normal temperature for Dalat this time of year is a maximum of 30C and a minimum of 25C - today the maximum was 20C and it is currently 17C and I am cold. There was light rain most of the way up which became heavy rain by the time I arrived - when I got to my hotel I was wet and cold. I chose to wear shorts (mistake), sandals (mistake) and a light jacket (mistake).
I hope the rain will have stopped by tomorrow morning, if not I may stay another night.
I was hoping to make a drone video of the mountain area and waterfalls but that now seems very unlikely.

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19th July 2017

Restless in Nha Trang

I am back home in Nha Trang after a fruitless trip to Quy Nhon - I had hoped to find a suitable apartment and move to Quy Nhon for six months or so. Unfortunately there do not seem to be any available apartments and no one in Quy Nhon speaks English.
Next month I am doing a motorbike road trip to Dalat, Bao Loc, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Vung Tau, Mui Ne and back to Nha Trang. I will be staying two days in Vung Tau and will be looking at apartments with the idea that I may move there.
Nha Trang has lost most of its appeal since it was invaded by Russian tourists and more recently also Chinese tourists.

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25th June 2017

Ha Giang Adventure Tour - Day 3

The bulk of day 3 was spent travelling back to Hanoi with a few rest stops and stops for breakfast and lunch - we did visit the Quan Ba Sunday market which turned out to be a highlight of the tour - our tour guide bought a live pig and Billie 2 suggested we tell Billie 1 (who was not with us at the time) that Billie 2 had bought the pig to take back to France as a pet. The short version of the story is that initially, as expected, Billie 1 did not believe the story but when she saw the pig she was convinced. After an hour or so of discussing the issues with bringing a pet pig into France (Billie 1 was concerned about what to feed it etc.) Billie 2 told Billie 1 the truth and we all had a good laugh.
Tomorrow I fly back home to Nha Trang but I will be back in Hanoi on 31st August when I have rented a motorbike (a Honda Winner - the same as my bike) for 10 days to do a solo road trip into the northern area of Vietnam repeating visits to some of the places visited on the 3x3 day tours I have done on this trip.

Route for September Solo Motorbike Road Trip


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24th June 2017
 
Ha Giang Adventure Tour - Day 2

After a breakfast of Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) in a local Yen Min Restaurant and a Vietnamese coffee in a coffee shop we departed Yen Minh for the Dong Van karst plateau. We had several photo stops along the way and also a lunch stop in Dong Van. After lunch we continued north close to the Chinese Border and stopped at Lung Cu Flagstaff which is a lookout point at the most nortern point of Vietnam. We then headed back to Yen Minh for the night stopping at Ma Pi Leng pass for photos of the Ma Pi Leng Canyon and the Nho Que River. We also visted the Meo King Palace and a Mong house.

Young Mong Flute Player Local Mong Woman Dong Van Area Dong Van Area
Young Mong Flute Player                            Local Mong Woman                                                                  Dong Van Area                                  

Billy 1 Billy 2 Billy 1 and Billy 1 Ma Pi Leng Canyon
                Billie 1                                                         Billie 2                                         Billie 2 and Billie 1                                  Ma Pi Leng Canyon         

Nho Que River Lung Cu View Lung Cu View Rice Fields Rice Replanting
          Nho Que River                                        Lung Cu View                                    Lung Cu View Rice Fields                                  Rice Replanting           

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23rd June 2017

Ha Giang Adventure Tour

Day one of the Ha Giang Adventure Tour involved almost the full day driving with rest stops and photo stops along the way. We left Hanoi around 7am this morning and got to our hotel for the night in Yen Minh around 6pm. Despite the long drive it did not seem so long as we had several stops along the way.
Tomorrow we go to Dong Van which includes a visit the the most northern point in Vietnam.

Tea Plantation Ha Giang Road to Yen Minh Fairy Bosom Rice Terraces Yen Minh
    Tea Plantation Ha Giang                                Road to Yen Minh                                     Fairy Bosom                                     Rice Terraces Yen Minh  

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22nd June 2017

Mai Chau Trip

Last night I discovered that I am now the only person left at the Mai Chau Sunrise Village and I had dinner alone - it is the off season due to the heat and humidity.
This morning involved a guided cycle tour of the area including the local market which is quite large and just like a major department and supermarket combined. There were a few unusual food items such as - frogs, grass hoppers (which were part of yesterdays lunch), silk worms, snails and dog meat. Next stop was the local cave (used as a bomb shelter during the Vietnam War) that involves a climb up 1200 steps to get to the entrance (no one mentioned the steps until we got there) - it was a tough climb and I was soaked with sweat when I got to the top (my guide arrived about ten minutes later looking quite stressed and told me I walk very fast).
This trip is now coming to an end and I have just had lunch which is followed by a couple of relaxing hours before the 4 hour bus trip back to Hanoi.
Tomorrow I leave Hanoi again for the Three day Ha Giang adventure tour

Sunrise Village Dinner Mai Chau From The Cave Entrance Mai Chau Cave Sunrise Village Lunch
Sunrise Village Dinner                       Mai Chau From The Cave Entrance                           Chieu Cave                                        Sunrise Village Lunch   

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21st June 2017

Mai Chau Trip

Today involved a full day motorbike tour of the Pu Luong Nature Reserve that included about 100 kilometres of bike riding and a few kilometres of trekking. It turns out that I am the only person doing this 3 day tour to Mai Chau - I did not know as they also run 1 and 2 day tours that are based at the Mai Chau Sunrise Village so there was just me and my guide Tam. We visited a local ethnic Thai village (no connection with the Thais of Thailand) for lunch with a local family and also another small ethnic village of some other race that I have forgotten (maybe  Na Meo or Na Mo). On the way back we stopped at a roadside shop and got a 2 litre jug of icy cold Bia Hoi (Fresh draught beer) at a cost of 25,000 Dong (about $1.10 US).

Pu Luong Pu Luong Pu Luong Pu Luong
Pu Luong Pu Luong Pu Luong Pu Luong
Pu Luong

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20th June 2017

Mai Chau Trip
 
After a rest day in Hanoi I am now on the Three day Mai Chau - Pu Luong tour - today we drove from Hanoi to Mai Chau and booked into the "Homestay" - Mai Chau Sunrise Village which I would describe as a 4 Star Eco Resort. I have a private air conditioned self contained bungalow with a balcony. After lunch was served in the restaurant we then went on a two hour bicycle ride around the rice fields and to the local craft market which had an amazing range of handmade goods.

Mai Chau Valley View My "Homestay" Room My "Homestay" Room Balcony Mai Chau Market
Mai Chau Valley View                             My "Homestay" Room                          My "Homestay" Balcony                             Mai Chau Market     

Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market
Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market Mai Chau Market
Mai Chau Market

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17th June 2017

Ba Be Lake Ban Gioc Water Fall

Another long day of travelling but we got to see the highlight of the trip, Ban Gioc Water Fall which was impressive. Tomorrow we head back to Hanoi and I will have a rest day before starting the Three day Mai Chau - Pu Luong tour

Ban Gioc Water Fall    Ban Gioc Water Fall    Ban Gioc Water Fall
Ban Gioc Water Fall

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17th June 2017

Ba Be Lake Ban Gioc Water Fall

I am now at Ba Be Lake staying at Ba Be Lake View Homestay. The homestay is excellent with a great view and lots of good food. The group spent yesterday driving from Hanoi and cruising Ba Be Lake. Unfortunately it was overcast and raining for most of yesterday and is still raining now.
I was supposed to on the Three day Ha Giang adventure tour but there was a mix up and I am now on the Three day Ba Be lake Ban Gioc Water Fall Pac Bo cave tour. I am looking forward to our visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall today.
Before, in between and after my tours I am staying at the Hanoi Romance Hotel which is great and much better than expected - in a very good location in Hanoi's Old


Ba Be Lake Homestay View     Locals Fishing on Ba Be Lake
 Ba Be Lake Homestay View                       Locals Fishing on Ba Be Lake

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14th June 2017

Vietnam Northwest Trips

Tomorrow I fly to Hanoi for 11 days and have booked 3 separate 3 day group tours into the Northwest of Vietnam:

Three day Ha Giang adventure tour

Three day Mai Chau - Pu Luong tour

Three day Ba Be lake Ban Gioc Water Fall Pac Bo cave tour

I booked the tours with Vietnam Typical Tours as I previously booked Sapa and Halong Bay trips with them and was very happy with the service.

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Videos:

North Nha Trang, Vietnam

Bird's Eye View of Nha Trang Beach, Vietnam


The Vinpearl Cable Car System

Saturday Morning in Nha Trang, Vietnam


Flying Around The Mouth of The Cai River, Nha Trang, Vietnam

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27th April 2017

Dalat Photo Gallery

I just got back from a quick trip to Dalat (1 night) - the road is much better than it was when I last went up but still not good. The weather was wonderful both up and back, which is unusual. I stayed at the Thanh Thao Hotel for the third time and it has become my regular Dalat hotel as it is good value ($15 US/night) and in a good location. I had lunch (Banh Mi Chả quế - Pork Roll - which was 20,000 dong), dinner (Seafood Fried Rice - 40,000 dong) and breakfast (Bn b Huế - Hue Style Beef Noodle Soup - 35,000 dong) at the Lien Hoa Bakery and Restaurant, which I believe is the best value in town - the Banh Mi's range in price from 10,000 to 30,000 dong (44 cents to $1.32 US).

Banh Mi Menu Lien Hoa Bakery & Restaurant Bn b Huế Dalat Eiffel Tower

Banh Mi Menu (Think Subway)                      Lien Hoa Bakery & Restaurant                                   Bn b Huế                                   Dalat Eiffel Tower          

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20th April 2017

Moving Again

At the end of this month I am moving again - I have found a place that is within 200 metres of a quiet beach at the northern end of Nha Trang well away from most of the tourists and traffic. The bonus is that it is new and cheap - Nha Trang Apartment Rentals
I had planned on going to Vung Tau for a week to "Trial" living there but I got sick and have postponed that for now.

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1st April 2017

Moving Out of Town

Today I am moving back to Five Continents House in the suburbs as I have had enough of the volume of tourists, traffic and traffic noise that is now constant in Nha Trang's "Tourist Area".

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17th March 2017

Home in Nha Trang

I am now back home in Nha Trang after my epic bike trip from Nha Trang to Tuy Hoa, Pleiku, Kon Tum, Quang Ngai, Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Khe Sanh, Phong Nha, Dong Hoi, Danang, Quy Nhon and finally back to Nha Trang - total distance covered was about 2,500 kilometres.

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16th March 2017

Danang to Quy Nhon

I am spending the night in Quy Nhon after another long day (around 320 kilometres) made worse by the fact that it rained for a good portion of the way (the first rain I have encountered on this trip). I chose Quy Nhon simply because it was the only real town between Danang and Nha Trang and I have never been here before. I was surprised to find that it appears to be a modern well laid out city and it also has a wonderful beach - long and wide with clean golden sand and no crowds. Tomorrow is the last leg of my marathon motorbike road trip and I am looking forward to some rest.

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15th March 2017

Dong Hoi to Danang

Another day another 300 kilometres - although as it was all on the main north/south highway it was relatively painless. I spend tonight in Danang and then another 300 kilometre+ day tomorrow to Quy Nhon.

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13th March 2017

Ho Chi Minh Road

Today was another hard day in the saddle covering around 300 kilometres - more than 200 of which was on the Ho Chi Minh Road from Khe Sanh to Phong Nha through the endless mountain ranges that run along the Vietnam and Laos border. The surprising thing about the road to me was how good it was as it was concrete all the way.
I am now in Dong Hoi staying at the Geminai Hotel and Cafe and it is excellent - I am staying here for two nights and will have a rest day tomorrow. I had planned to return to Nha Trang from here by train but have decided to ride back down the main coast highway stopping overnight in Danang and Quy Nhon.

Ho Chi Minh Road Village    Ho Chi Minh Road Valley    Fishing Boats on Nhat Le River
                   Ho Chi Minh Road Village                      Ho Chi Minh Road Valley (Video)              Fishing Boats on Nhat Le River - Dong Hoi        

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12th March 2017
 
Khe Sanh

Today I had an easy ride from Hue to Khe Sanh as the road was in excellent condition and very smooth (at one stage I was cruising at 100 kph) probably because it is the main trading route between Vietnam and Laos (Khe Sanh is only about 15 kilometres from the Laos border).
I met up with an American guy at my hotel and we rode out to the old Khe Sanh Combat Base which was a major American base during the Vietnam War and was involved in continuous heavy fighting from 1967 to 1968.

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11th March 2017

Hue

I am after now in Hue (Hway) spending yesterday in Hoi An. I stayed at the Hoi An Trust Villa which was good. I am not really a fan of Hoi An (I visited once before) as I just don't understand what the attraction is. The place has always been popular with backpackers and has now got to a strange similar to Nha Trang were it is simply being swamped by tourists. I also noted whilst riding along the coast from Hoi An to Danang that the entire coastline between the two place is being developed into "Resorts" again similar to what is happening between Cam Ranh Airport and Nha Trang.

Short Hoi An Video


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9th March 2017

Quang Ngai

After a tough day riding (more than 6 hours) from Pleiku to Quang Ngai (245 Klms) over three mountain ranges and roads that varied from very good to dirt tracks with hundreds of potholes. The plus side was that the scenery was absolutely spectacular. I am spending the night at the Ma Tra River View Hotel and my room ovrerlooks the river.
Most people have the impression that Vietnam is a "Backward Asian Economy" and that is not the case as there is obvious prosperity and progress everywhere. I had started to get the feeling myself that Vietnam had decided to become a "Tourist Destination Only" but I have spent the last three days visiting areas that are totally tourist free and they are thriving.

Mountain Village Central Vietnam Valley Town From Mountain Top Oink My Tra Hotel View
Mountain Village (click here for video)             Valley Town From Mountain Top                                      Oink                                         My Tra Hotel View                

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8th March 2017

Pleiku

I am now in Pleiku staying at the Hoang Vu Bien Ho Hotel which is much better than I had imagined - it is a large, modern hotel on the main road - I booked a single room with breakfast for less than $14 USD and have been upgraded to a VIP Room on the 6th floor.
Pleiku town covers quite a large area and is well laid out. It is not a tourist destination and in fact I have not seen any foreigners since I left Nha Trang. The people here are very friendly and most of the kids speak English to some degree (more than just Hello). The road to Pleiku from Tuy Hoa was very bumpy and on two occasions my helmet cam mounting fell out of level - the gyro stabilising of the video camera is great and watching video footage of the trip you cannot tell how bumpy the road was.

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7th March 2017

Tuy Hoa

The ride up to Tuy Hoa was good and on the way I passed Dai Lanh, a small fishing village with a great beach. I had an interesting time passing lots of trucks on Ca Pass (Click to Watch The Video).
There were many lush green fields of rice but some had already turned golden and were being harvested. The beach a Tuy Hoa is clean, long and deserted - there seems to be work in progress to rejuvenate the area.

Rice-Harvest    Tuy Hoa Beach
                  Rice Harvest                               Tuy Hoa Beach - No Crowds Here  

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6th March 2017

Road Trip

Tomorrow I leave for my big road trip to central and northern Vietnam visiting Tuy Hoa, Pleiku, Quang Ngai, Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Khe Sanh, Phong Nha and Dong Hoi. The plan is to then come back to Nha Trang by train from Dong Hoi but I may keep going all the way to Hanoi. The route is a combination of coastal and mountain roads and covers 1249 Klms on motorbike and 795 Klms on the train.

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26th February 2017

Dalat Trip

I am back in Nha Trang after taking my new bike on a trip to Dalat and back - I rode up yesterday morning and returned this morning. The bike is exactly what I wanted and performed better than I had expected (I think Honda have a "Winner" here). I tried a new restaurant in Dalat and it was wonderful (and cheap) - I have been to Dalat eight times now (I like Dalat) and find new things each visit. The fruit and vegetables in the market change with the seasons and I found the healthiest/freshest looking cauliflower and broccoli I have ever seen - I also saw the largest grapes I have ever seen (I had to taste one to make sure they were grapes), they looked like bunches of plums - but they were expensive at around $10US/kilo so I passed.

Dalat Roundabout at Night    Al Fresco Dining Dalat    Street Food Dalat
     Dalat Roundabout area at Night                             Al Fresco Dining Dalat                                 Street Food Dalat                  

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23rd February 2017

Phu Quoc South Day Tour

Today I took the Red River Tours "South Day Tour" and it was better than expected. Whilst it was nothing special it was quite informative - visits to a Pearl Farm, a Pepper Farm, a Fish Sauce Factory, the Sim Wine Factory, a Fishing Village, Sao Beach and the old Coconut Prison. I took a few photos and will post them when I get back to Nha Trang if I have time before I leave on Saturday for a trip to Dalat to trial and run-in my new bike.

Pepper Trees - Phu Quoc    Fish Sauce Fermenting Vats    Sao Beach Phu Quoc
Pepper Trees - Phu Quoc                     Fish Sauce Fermenting Vats                              Sao Beach Phu Quoc         

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22nd February 2017

Phu Quoc

I am now in Phu Quoc (a Vietnamese Island off the south coast of Cambodia) for four days. I arrived yesterday and spent the afternoon down the beach followed by a trip to the local "Night Market". The beach is good with calm seas, warm water and a gentle breeze - there were not a lot of people around and so far it has not been swamped by tourists. The night market was nothing special mainly consisting of restaurants targeting tourists. I ate at the busiest restaurant and the service was bad, the food was terrible and the price was about double that of Nha Trang.

So far the best thing about Phu Quoc is my hotel, the Hiep Thoai Hotel, as it may well be the "Best Value" hotel I have stayed at in Vietnam (and I have stayed at plenty), it is across the road from the main beach and a short walk into town, it is clean and my room is good and it only cost me $7US/night (Mr. Cheap) for a double A/C room with Wifi, cable TV and a mini bar.

Today I rented a motorbike and rode around most of Phu Quoc and to be honest there is very little to see as the whole island is bland and the same. There are several tourist developments in progress especially in the North near Vinpearl Amusement Park.

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