A few days in Phong Nha

2017-08-09 at 19:55

Misha was in town so we had breakfast together and took a trip with the motorbike. First stop was the city dump. They dig big holes – fill it with trash and that is it.
After that we drove towards the caves and the Ho Chi Minh Highway. On the way we passed a gate. The place looked like an abandoned construction site. But the gate was open so we drove inside. After a few seconds we saw a building that was not even half-finished. We parked the bike and a guard stepped out of the front door. He waved us to come over and that is what we did. He did not speak English and we do not speak Vietnamese but with smiles and hands everything works.
He invited us for some tea and we followed him inside.

Smoking a Thuốc Lào Pipe

How to spot a tourist place in North Vietnam? They will not have a Thuốc Lào Pipe or Bamboo Pipe standing in the place. Smaller places usually have a table and some chairs in front of it. On the table you find a teapot, tiny tea cups, a tin can with tobacco and a lighter. On the floor a bucket with a Thuốc Lào Pipe in it. People that pass can sit down and take a cup of tea and a hit from the pipe. When I had breakfast in Ninh Bin the table in front of the noodle shop was never empty. Customers that finished the meal did smoke to “aid digestion”. Friends that passed stopped for a cup and a smoke to chat for a few minutes.
In bigger places the pipe and tobacco is always in use somewhere. Just go and grab it if you feel like it.
The lower part of the pipe is closed and contains the water. Right above it is a little hole with a small stem. Here you put the special high nicotine tobacco. Light it and suck the smoke.
The best part: It is always free to smoke!

How to smoke a Vietnamese Water Pipe
The guard had some tobacco with his tea

How to smoke a Vietnamese Water Pipe

How to smoke a Vietnamese Water Pipe

Misha had some but I do not smoke so I passed.

After a while we thanked the man for his hospitality and wanted to go. He told us something and gestured toward the right of the building. Sure enough we did not understand so he waved us to follow him. After two minutes we arrived at the “American War Disney World” of Phong Nha. Looks like somebody wanted to build a theme park and run out of money.

Vietnam War Disney World
Not sure what this is. Could be that they throw barrels in the river upstream and fished them out downstream. With all the rocks in the river them must have lost a lot of them.

Vietnam War Disney World
That is easy to figure out

Vietnam War Disney World
Some guys with some pipes

After that we thanked the man again and I drove Misha up to the Ho Chi Minh Higway – so he could see some unspoiled forest for once on his trip.

Banana Plantation
We had to go a lot further – as you can see – Bananas – everywhere – covered in some leaves.

After that the man wanted to go up to a minority village – and so we did.

Memorial for the volunteers who sacrificed themselves to maintain the Victory Road 20 during the war
We made it to the 8 Lady cave and the Memorial for the volunteers who sacrificed themselves to maintain the Victory Road 20 during the war. Now it was late afternoon and he had a bus in the evening. No time for more biking. We turned back toward Phong Nha.

Misha taking a swim
A quick stop for a swim

The river towards Phong Nha
The river towards Phong Nha – magic!

Church in xóm Chày
Church in xóm Chày

Farming day
Farming da

Everybody is out there and helps
Everybody is out there and helps

New tech vs old tech
New tech vs old tech

A day in the field

Further down the Road: A Chinese Graveyard

Graveyard along the road

They blocked the entrance but the cow made it in
They blocked the entrance but the cow made it in – now she can not get out anymore

Had to send Misha to open the gate
Had to send Misha to open the gate

Chinese Grave

Church on the opposite side of the graveyard
Church on the opposite side of the graveyard

Chinese roof for Maria
Chinese roof for Maria

With time running out we had to drive back to Phong Nha. Misha had to pack and wanted some food before the bus.

Another church
Another church

Misha and Me
Adios Amigo!

Trang at Lemmon Tree Spa
Trang at Lemmon Tree Spa – the best thing in Phong Nha!

Brandon and Daniel after the crash
Had lunch with this two guys 2 days ago on the road. I left before them. On the way in they hit an obstacle on the road. Meet Brandon and Daniel after the crash. I needed my chain fastened and they needed a lot more.

Mountain View Hotel in Phong Nha

My room at the Mountain View Hotel in Phong Nha was 8 US $ a night. It comes with 2 beds, Air-con, fan, TV, WiFi and a private bath room with hot shower. In the morning you get breakfast which is also included in the 8 US $. They have balconies toward the front and back of the hotel. Try to get the room on the top floor – the view is better.
Motorbike parking is in front of the hotel under a roof – so it is dry when it rains.
Here is the hotel link on booking.com

Room at the Mountain View Hotel in Phong Nha
Room at the Mountain View Hotel in Phong Nha

Room at the Mountain View Hotel in Phong Nha

Bathroom at the Mountain View Hotel in Phong Nha
The bathroom

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