April 2015
A short but fine adventure by Paul Read more
  • 19footprints
  • 1countries
  • 6days
  • 58photos
  • 0videos
  • 832kilometers
  • Day 1

    Nam Dinh at Night

    April 19, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    We got to nam dinh around 10 or 11 at night, we were hoping to catch a bus or train much further south but the next one was at 9pm the next day. So we had to spend the night in Nam Định, served us right after we spent so long arguing with the travel agent in ha long bay.

    We stopped outside a karaoke joint to grab coffee and the wifi until we figured out what direction to go. It was dark but we found a hotel with a room available still open eventually.
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  • Day 2

    Nam Dinh by Day

    April 20, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    Our hotel was around here somewhere.

    It was a quaint little town not much to it, bigger than a village though and seemed like it wanted to develop but had stopped half way. Some of buildings unfinished and vacant.

    We road down to nim Binh after with our bags, it was a bigger town with potentially other ways of getting further south. We found the station and apparently there was a wait of a month for our bikes to get on (according to the hostel owner nearby, I've started to not trust the sales tactics of Vietnamese people unfortunately, seems like they'll say anything to get a sale, still he offered us a bus at 8.30 for a million each. The train worked out to be about 600000, so obviously we would take that but managed to cut the price down to 750 thou, and the bus left at 9 so we had time to fit in some random stuff before leaving. Trip advisor recommended a few things and one I had seen on the map before: tầm coc.
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  • Day 2

    Nam Dinh Temple

    April 20, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    I had noticed this temple on the way in last night. The temple to the north of the town with a big central Buddha, was not the biggest I've seen (bangkok buddha's are hard to beat) but still impressive. The place was mostly empty, kids with their shaved heads were being taught at the back of the temple grounds so the rest was open to exploration. Some men were actually carving and conditioning the wood with blow torches in one area of the temple, it was great to see the work being done first hand and seeing the craftsmanship that goes into every piece.Read more

  • Day 2

    Tam Coc

    April 20, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The ride to the tầm coc start was about 20 minutes south / south west. We wanted to just take a boat out by ourselves, ideally a kayake but they had local things that looked good enough. Me and Jack eventually got into one, Pim wanted to save money I think and didn't join us.
    A guide hopped in with us which we didn't want at first but we were so glad he did. After figuring out the ores were orientated backwards, so that rowing was more like pushing, we had a crack each at getting down stream. We got maybe 250 meters before the guide took over and started to show us how it was done..

    He sat up on the boat and used his feet and legs to push the ores! Genius. Once we got going under some bridges and around a few corners we understood why it was one of the top trip advisor things in the area. A river boat cruise through rice fields between sheer cliff mountains. Goats climb the side walls and cranes fly off at your approach. I took my go pro assuming we might get wet so I didn't take my phone, but the battery lasted 30 seconds. Bummer. Thankfully Pim took a couple of us from the riverbank.
    You'll have to Google search for more tam coc images, I'm sure there will be hundreds.
    There was a cemetery to one side of the way. I thought to myself; that's where I'd want to be buried, I've never thought that about a place before. it was that beautiful. I felt if someone wants to visit my grave, they should go on this epic adventure to the other side of the world once in their life to come and see it. I'd want my grandchildren to see what I've seen and make their own quest for adventure here.
    We carried on and came to a cave opening the river ran through, the guide said we were going through 3 caves and it would take about 2 hours. We told Pim we would be gone for 1, but we had plenty of time till the bus left that evening so no drama.

    The journey through the glades of rice were too beautiful, we saw sunset from the boat and chatted shit for the whole time.
    Jack's one of the few people I can talk to for hours openly about anything and everything, and the beers from a side boat on the river were a welcome addition to our cruise. We had to borrow the cash from the rower as we hadn't brought anything with us!

    We pulled up to the side after the 3rd cave for a nah veh sinh (toilet) stop, and the souvenir and snack vendor invited us to have our first Vietnam smoke pipe experience. I'm not a smoker so for me it was such a hit, and even for Jack who smokes all the time anyway. My head rush was huge, never thought tobacco could do that but it was good in a way, no filter though so I've been coughing for 3 days already. Worth it for the local experience though.

    When we got back the guide took us to his home / bar for some draft beer (the first pint was all head but we had it anyway) and ordered beef and rice from next door.

    Pim caught up and told us he ended up playing footie with the locals, and apparently they're really good. It didn't surprise me if they were doing it every day. The food and beer was great and the guide had lent us money to get the beers on the boat so we had to tip him!

    We rode back to the backpackers just in time for the bus and got the bikes on, ready for our next sleeping journey south to Dong Hoi.
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  • Day 3

    Dong Hoi Drama

    April 21, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    Bike problems came as standard after every bus we put them on.

    We were dropped off of the night bus from Nim Binh to dong hoi at 5am, still dark, and wanting coffee. There were wierd people around jogging like zombies doing yoga while it the sun wasn't even up. We went across to a bakery that opened up and got morning baguettes. Pim got 3 because he was smart. Both other bikes would not start so I had to find mech. I went for a ride to find fuel and a cash point as well. Found money and a locked cage of puppies at the side of the road. I had to stop and had some water in my bike so I poured some out into the lid and gave some to each pup. Hope they are okay! Wish I could keep one! Jack was still by the bakery, think he might have had a nap on the pavement. Pim eventually came back with directions to a bike shop. We got there and got the bikes sorted but not without a fair amount of grumpiness.Read more

  • Day 3

    Finding the Cave

    April 21, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Finding the cave was a bit of a nightmare, we spent most of the day dicking around, trying to find the entrance but the biggest cave, Soon Dong, is off limits to foreigners without a guide, that you have to pay over a $1000 for and there's a several month long waiting list. So here's some photos from the outside of where we thought it might be :'D

    We stopped off a few times in places to get directions / throw rocks.
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  • Day 3

    The Cave!

    April 21, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    set off for the son Doong Cave. The ride there was North West of dong hoi towards the mountains. Dicked around once we got there looking for signs and an entrance but no luck, think they keep the biggest one hidden so only the locals know. Ended up following a group of tourists hoping to luck out with a cave but they stopped at the botanic gardens. They still made the park entry smooth as butter as we coasted in behind them ?
    Rode round the loop and stopped at paradise cave in the end. Biggest cave I've ever been into in my life. Huuuuge. If it wasn't the biggest in the world it damn near felt like it. Son Doong must be incredible. And it gives me an excuse to come back here. Rode back to dong hoi in light drizzle, would have thought that would teach us to get ponchos and tarps sorted by now but nope. ??
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  • Day 4

    Buffalo Hostel

    April 22, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    Woke up in dong hoi again, great little hostel by the train station, buffalo hostel sign outside. Jack read on the menu lady living there had looked after someone after they had a bike accident, and her kid seemed to have adhd. I think he and Jack got on pretty well :D After breakfast we tipped her, I kept a jam baguette for the Road after Pims wisdom yesterday. Had to get the bikes fixed again though after my exhaust fell off! Jacks accelerator and Pims light were not working either. Yesterday before both weren't even starting so at least these were minor issues in comparison. We went back to the same shop we stopped at our first morning in dong hoi after the bus dropped us off. I pulled into a welder on the same street while they're bikes were getting looked at who was conveniently working at the time and I noticed his weld sparks. I came back after a screw bolt bodge job and a half weld around the exhaust (it was good enough) Jacks was an easy fix, and Pims was in bits. After about 20 minutes it still would not start. Then I spotted the engine stop switch was down and pushed it up and hey what do you know?! The bike starts first time! Safe to say he made me promise not to tell Jack.Read more

  • Day 4

    Our Start on the Ho Chi Minh Trail

    April 22, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    Drove from dong hoi North West again towards the ho chi minh tay at midday and got into it by 1 I think. The road was beyond words. Not a soul in sight for kilometres, just the open slab roads with gravel either side, steep drops and cliffs, and jungle. The forest was so thick! Views were amazing, wanted to stop for photos every 3 mins. Took some good ones I hope. It rained at one point and we drove down a small side mud Road Under someone's shelter and it turned out he opened up the side of his house with snacks, just after Jack said he wanted to move on to find some food. Snacks were terrible tho, cardboard biscuits. Kids were shy of us. Said gà moon and tan beuyt and took run ups for the steep damp exit. Kept heading south until our planned left turn off of the highway which ran towards the Vinh mốc tunnels.Read more