From Phố Châu over Rừng Thông to Ninh Binh

2017-08-15 at 17:23

Ashley and Me in front of the Ly Ha Hotel
Ashley and Me in front of the Ly Ha Hotel

Ashley - ready to take off towards Phong Nha
Ashley – ready to take off towards Phong Nha

Meat shop in the rain
Meat shop in the rain and it looked like it will rain for the rest of the day. No excuse for the wicked. Got my stuff on the bike and it was time to say good bye.

Trần and Me
See you soon Trần!

At the traffic circle in Phố Châu
At the traffic circle in Phố Châu – no clue why they need this in the middle of nowhere?

Rice planting in Rừng Thông
Rice planting in Rừng Thông – still rain and it is cold after the whole day on the bike. Time to find a hotel.

My bed at the hotel in xã Đông Anh
My bed at the hotel in xã Đông Anh

Toilet paper, a remote and condoms
Toilet paper, a remote and condoms

There was only blue light in the bathroom? This way you will have problems to shoot up!
There was only blue light in the bathroom? This way you will have problems to shoot up!

The Boss insisted that I take the bike inside - so I did
The Boss insisted that I take the bike inside – so I did

Todays Drive

243 Kilometres in 6 hours and 12 minutes with a few rain stops, some shopping and a gas stop as well

The next Morning

The Boss was quite happy in the morning! See you again :-)
The Boss was quite happy in the morning! See you again 🙂

Working in the rice fields of Rice planting in Bừt Sơn
Working in the rice fields of Rice planting in Bừt Sơn – still Gray but dry!

At Việt's and Hoàn's home
Arrived in the afternoon at Việt's and Hoàn's home and they served me a wonderful lunch

Todays Drive

82 Kilometres in 2 hours and 11 minutes with a coffee and gas stop

Sapphire Truong Thinh Hotel in Ninh Binh

Việt and Hoàn opened the hotel in February 2017 so I was the first guest. They cook every evening and everybody sits together and eats. Great way to meet new friends. Also I got vegetarian food and it was really good. The same goes for breakfast since they asked me what I want for breakfast. Next to the hotel is a great soup place that serves traditional soup and BBQ in the morning. Usually they are sold out round 8:30 in the morning. So if you get up late you can not try.

Sapphire Truong Thinh Hotel in Ninh Binh
Sapphire Truong Thinh Hotel in Ninh Binh

My room at the Sapphire Truong Thinh
My room at the Sapphire Truong Thinh for 8 US $. Comes with AC, 2 beds, WiFi,TV, fan, breakfast and hot shower.

View towards the bathroom
View towards the bathroom

Việt and Hoàn in front of the hotel
Việt and Hoàn in front of the hotel

Here is the booking.com link for the Sapphire Truong Thinh Hotel

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On the Ho Chi Minh Road from Phong Nha to Phố Châu

2017-08-10 at 20:37

A Gray morning after a good nights sleep at the Mountain View Hotel in Phong Nha. Today I wanted to drive further up North to Phố Châu.
Switched on the boiler and flipped open the MacBook. Catching up with the world events and emails from last night. After a few emails the water was hot and I took my shower.
Went down to the restaurant for breakfast later. They serve tea or coffee and the usual Baguette with egg and a few Bananas for desert. I opted for coffee as usually – the slow drip Vietnamese coffee. But ordered tomatoes instead of egg. That was new for the owner. So she came with 2 tomatoes and showed them to me. “Tomatoes?” Yes! Ha ha – you should see the lock she gave me 🙂
After I put my stuff on the bike and settled the bill I was off toward the Ho Chi Minh Road.

Looking back at Phong Nha
Crossing the bridge towards the QL15 I stopped for a look back at Phong Nha.

Nhà Thờ Giáo Xứ Đồng Troóc in Thôn Hai
Nhà Thờ Giáo in the next village

Kids always put on a show if you have the camera out
Kids always put on a show if you have the camera out

Nhà Thờ Giáo Họ Vĩnh Sơn - GX Khe Gát
Nhà Thờ Giáo Họ Vĩnh Sơn – GX Khe Gát

Finally open road toward the mountains
Finally open road toward the mountains. It looks like last year – Gray and limited visibility. And sure enough a few minutes later it started to rain again. Stopped in a small market town and got a rain poncho. Of course it was way to small but I was dry all the way down to the knees! And shielded from the cold as well.
Did not take a lot of pictures since it rained for most of the day. BUT I have some for you in the post from last year: http://hastenteufel.name/blog/from-phong-nha-to-tinh-ha-tinh/.

Nhà thờ Giáo họ Tân Phương in Hương Khê
Nhà thờ Giáo họ Tân Phương in Hương Khê

Phố Châu

Went to the same hotel as last year. The Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu. Only this time I got the room in the second floor. My old room was occupied by Ashley from Canada.

My room at the Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu
My room at the Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu. 8€ with fridge, AC, fan, closet, table, chairs, kettle and private bathroom with hot shower. The room is not to big but for a few nights perfect.

The bathroom at the Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu
The bathroom. Small but everything I need

Went down later to do some shopping and the manager was sitting there. I said “Hello” and “I remember you from last year”. Took him a few seconds to remember but in no time I was sitting next to him with some fresh tea.
Later he went with Ashley and me to a local coffee shop for some refreshment.
After that Ashley went for dinner and he took me to a temple that had some celebration going on. I did not really understand what was going on but there where many people and since I was the only foreigner you can imagine the whole thing.

At a temple close to Phố Châu
At a temple close to Phố Châu. This guy was the important speaker this evening.

At a temple closte to Phố Châu

At a temple closte to Phố Châu

Facebook live stream
Facebook live stream!

Tea with some important guys with lots of pictures
Tea with some important guys at the entrance building. They took lots of pictures with me as well.

And the usual fotoshoots at the parking lot
And the usual pictures at the parking lot. It is so easy to make people happy over here 🙂

Todays Drive

191 km in 6 hours and 44 minutes including lunch, photo stops as well as a Gas stop

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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. 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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From Khe Sanh to Phong Nha – The best Part of the HCM Highway

2017-08-08 at 16:34

A beautiful blue morning sky over the city – the roads are dry and it was a pleasant 22 degrees. What a nice day to ride to Phong Nha on the best part of the Ho Chi Minh Highway.

Monument in Khe Sanh
Monument in Khe Sanh – the first time I see it with blue sky

Lake a few kilometres after Khe Sanh
A big lake a few kilometres after Khe Sanh – would make for a nice mountain get away on the other side of the lake.
Nice lake view but if you look down - trash - everywhere
Nice lake view but if you look down – trash – everywhere

No more forest left
No more forest left.

Empty roads
Empty roads – for most of the day.

You can see how the street cuts into the green mountains
You can see how the street cuts into the green mountains.

Looking down at Hương Hóa in the Quảng Trị Province
Looking down at Hương Hóa in the Quảng Trị Province

Farmland takes over the mountains
Farmland takes over the mountains

Left - right - left - HCM Meditation
Left – right – left – HCM Meditation

This way to the border - Laos on the other side
This way to the border – Laos on the other side

More curves up to the next mountain range
More curves up to the next mountain range

Small village next to the street
Small village next to the street

Less and less farming along the road and more natural forest
Less and less farming along the road and more natural forest

Last year there where only the power poles but no power line
Last year there where only the power poles but no power line. Next every small village along the road will have power. Next – they will have satellite dishes and TV sets. Next – they “know” what to consume. Sad world!

Magic mountain wonderland
Magic mountain wonderland

The road cuts into the mountains
The road cuts into the mountains

When the street workers go they leave all the rubbish next to the road
When the street workers go they leave all the rubbish next to the road. Lots of plastic, cloths and everything else.

More curves and more forest - with a banana plantation on the left
More curves and more forest – with a banana plantation on the left

Suddenly a lot of traffic on the road
Suddenly a lot of traffic on the road

Which is a sure sign of a little villages after a few more corners
Which is a sure sign of a little villages after a few more curves

For a while the road follows the river towards the next mountain range
For a while the road follows the river towards the next mountain range

Not to much original forest left here
Not to much original forest left here

More traffic
More traffic

Still a few tall trees left
Still a few tall trees left

They repaired the shoulder of the road. And used a lot of small stones that are now everywhere. Not really save in the curves.
They repaired the shoulder of the road. And used a lot of small stones that are now everywhere. Not really save in the curves.

Nothing - as far as one can see
Nothing – as far as one can see

Straight - left - right - left - straight - right - and so on...
Straight – left – right – left – straight – right – and so on…

And after every corner there are more great views
And after every corner there are more great views

Slowly the sun sets
Slowly the sun sets

Mountains and mountains
Mountains and mountains

Did turn the bike for this shoot
Did turn the bike for this picture – Phong Nha is towards the right!

The last picture for today - time to hit the road before the sun is gone
The last picture for today – time to hit the road bevore the sun is gone

Todays Drive

189 km in 8 hours and 44 minutes including lunch, photo stops as well as a Gas stop

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