4 Days in the US – Day 1 From Chicago to Fitchburg⁩

2017-11-29 at 18:21

Another Long Man mission. Fly to Chicago and deliver some parts – have a few free days to explore – fly back. I like those kind of missions. Got a car for 4 days and booked a few nice hotels. Spring was late this year so it was not as green as I hoped for but it was a free trip so why complain?? First stop ‎⁨Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩ via Frankfurt and Chicago.

Stuttgart Airport
Stuttgart Airport – even a decent time of the day. Usually when I do this kind of trips I am on the first plane out of Frankfurt to Chicago which leaves at 07:25. That means get up at 03:00 – drive to Heilbronn – pick up the goods and race to Frankfurt Airport to get the flight.

Stuttgart Airport

Nobody looks really happy today
Nobody looks really happy today

Not a lot of leg room
Not a lot of leg room

Lufthansa A320-200

Loook! An Air Berlin plane!
Loook! An Air Berlin plane!

Off we go - the Albtrauf in the back
Off we go – the Albtrauf in the back

It is blue over the clouds
It is blue over the clouds. I really love it on a rainy day. You have a gray day and go in a plane – it takes off and gets over the clouds – voilà! Sunshine!!!

Look - LEGROOM!!
Look – LEGROOM!!

But it is only the shuttle bus in Frankfurt
But it is only the shuttle bus in Frankfurt

The plane is somewhere - we do a sight-seeing tour of FRA
Usually I do not like it when they ferry you with the bus to the plane. But this time it was different. The plane is somewhere out there – we do a sight-seeing tour of FRA 🙂

Quite interesting
Quite interesting to see the planes from this site

The back turbine
The back turbine

A United plane
A United plane

Finally in my United plane - a bit better than Lufthans on the way to Frankfurt
Finally in my United plane – a bit better than Lufthans on the way to Frankfurt

I want to be able to do that!
I want to be able to do that! Board a plane and fall asleep – how nice would it be. No waiting for the food, no looking for the next movie – only a cruise in dreamland.

Stupid Premium Economy - the exit row in front of me was empty but of course you have to pay for it. And so was most of the Premium Economy part of the plane as well.
Stupid Premium Economy – the exit row in front of me was empty but of course you have to pay for it. And so was most of the Premium Economy part of the plane as well.

Vegetarian lunch
Vegetarian lunch

The wine was not really drinkable - the beer was!
The wine was not really drinkable – the beer was! I had two young Germans in my row. They where on the way to Vegas. And they had a few 1000 to blow. But no clue about beer. Lucky for me they wanted German beer – Warsteiner – one of our TV Beers – so more birds for me 🙂
The flight attendant was German and did look at me like I had a funny hat on – why would you drink American beer? Well she accepted my explanation with the TV beer and handed me a Goose. I told her later that this is a really good beer – much better than Warsteienr if you ask me. Turns out she does not drink beer in the first place.

But they only had a few of the birds so I had one of them as well
But they only had a few of the birds so I had one of them as well

Watched a few movies
Watched a few movies

Snack before touchdown in Chicago
Snack before touchdown in Chicago

Closer to Chicago
Close to Chicago

Close to Chicago
Closer to Chicago

Chicago

Immigration at O’Hare International Airport – the longest I had to stand in line was OVER 3 hours!! That was with the morning flight when a lot of planes come in. Now they have a different system with a lot of machines. Scan the passport, do this do that – do not smile for the picture and whatever. Since I brought some sample I marked the custom form for the goods. After that is was waiting waiting and waiting but not 3 hours more like 45 minutes. Finally it was my turn and I had to explain two times what I bring and after that I had my stamp and was off to customs. They X-Ray the bag and Adios! Good! Germany booked a car for me – at Hertz. So you go out and wait for the shuttle bus to bring you to the rental office.

  • Enterprise 11 times
  • Avis 10 times
  • Thrifty 10 times
  • Alamo 10 times
  • National 9 times
  • Budget 8 times
  • Dollar 8 times
  • Hertz 0 times

WTF??? Somehow I should bring stuff to Fitchburg⁩ in ⁨Wisconsin and not look at the shuttle buses from other rental companies! I see one upstairs – hmm since I waited now more than 30 minutes why not try upstairs at departure? – upstairs I go. Same same – but different! Now more National and Alamo and less Avis buses. I see one coming at arrival again. Running down like a rabbit runs from the fox I got in – let’s go and get the car!
Only 4 more customers in the bus – looks like I do not have to wait today. Ha Ha Hertz had a dirty trick up their sleeve! I dunno how they did it but there where about 25 customers in front of me. Hmmm they might send only one shuttle every 40 minutes or so – this way the line will not be all the way out of their office. Another hour and some minutes pass and finally I get the keys.
The nice thing with renting in the US is that you can choose your car at the parking lot. You rent a class and go and see what parks there. If you have time you even wait a bit if something better comes in. Lets see – I need a nice color and something I fit into. USB etc they all have so no need to check that. In the end I opted for a KIA with 349 miles on the clock. Who does not like the smell of a new car?

Finally in the rental car
Finally in the rental car

My ride for the next few day - a KIA whatever. Lots of plastic but it drives well
My ride for the next few day – a KIA whatever. Lots of plastic but it drives well. I was a bit confused about the toll system here. The last times I paid cash but some of the toll stations do not have an option to pay cash. And I had next to no coins as well so I stopped at a gas station to get something to drink and coins. Just in case. Next both I put my coins a man who worked there told me the car has an I-PASS thing on the windshield. You can open and close it and decide if you want to pay with it or with your credit card or cash. Ok – good to know….
There was not too much traffic and I got into ‎⁨Fitchburg a bit after 18:00.

Fitchburg⁩

Had to bring the samples to two technicians waiting for them in the
Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg. They where happy and I was tired. Of course there where no room booked for me but I was too lazy to find something else so I checked in the Wyndham. Nice place next to a small mall. So no need to take the car to get some food. To tired to go to a restaurant that has some vegetarian options anyhow.

Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩

My room at the Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩
My room at the Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩

Mini Bar, Microwave, Coffee Maker and an Ice Cooler
Mini Bar, Microwave, Coffee Maker and a Ice Cooler – looks like I need that little ice cooler later!

Sink opposite of the bathroom
Sink opposite of the bathroom

The bathroom
The bathroom – no space for a sink there.

If you ever go to Fitchburg⁩ use my affiliate link and stay at the: Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg

Went over the street and scouted for some dinner options. Hmm took me the longest time in front of that fridge!
Fuck - which one?
Fuck – which one?

The choice for today. Hummus, Avocados, Bananas and Baguette. And - BEER!
The selection for today. Hummus, Avocados, Bananas and Baguette. And – BEER!

House of Cards in real :-(
House of Cards in real 🙁

Here you find day 2: 4 Days in the US – Day 2 From Fitchburg⁩ to Mukwonago
Here you find day 3: 4 Days in the US – Day 3 From Mukwonago to Libertyville

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Hanoi – Bangkok – Udon Thani – Kut Chap

2017-11-19 at 20:13

The last few days in Asia for this trip. Hanoi International or Noi Bai Airport as they call it here. I have a VietJet flight to Bangkok. And a bus ticket a few days later to Kut Chap to see Nong and the girls.

My plane to Bangkok
My plane to Bangkok

VietJet from the inside
VietJet from the inside. I had enough space and was quite happy with VietJet. Booked my 2 flights in 2018 already with them.

Adios Hanoi
Adios Hanoi

Over the clouds - over Laos
Over the clouds – over Laos

Bangkok

Two nights in BKK – visited Melanie and Scott – that was all.

Bangkok Architecture
Bangkok Architecture

Bird of Pray? Not really
Bird of Pray? Not really

Coffee
Coffee

Off to Udon Thani

My VIP bus to Udon Thani
My TCK Rungroj VIP bus to Udon Thani. Left Bangkok at 21:00 for 454 Bath. Quite a good deal. There are snacks and food vouchers included.

Enough space for the night
Enough space for the night

The usual 2-1 seating arrangement
The usual 2-1 seating arrangement

Gave my food to the lady next to me
Gave my food to the lady next to me

Breakfast in Udon
Breakfast in Udon. Had to wait for Nong to pick me up and give me a lift to Kut Chap

Kut Chap

Good to be back but it was bloody hot there. Nong arranged a room at her neighbors place. They build a small house to rent apartments. Mine was not really finished but the bathroom worked and there was WiFi – what more do you need??

My room
My room

At the coffee shop
At the coffee shop

What you do?
What you do?

Evening with the girls
The best part of the day – the evenings with the girls

Evening with the girls

The fish market
The fish market part of the market. The market is behind the bar and there is a public toilet. Way more space to take a leak. I never tried the toilet in the small restaurant.

Breakfast
Breakfast – Nong cooked for me in the morning – great when you wake up and find some fresh food on your doorstep! Thank you Nong!!

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From Pom Coong to Cành Nàng

2017-11-15 at 14:41

Not to long before I have my flight home. It was about time to start moving again. Wanted to explore the Pù Luông Nature Reserve and do the Lao Loop. Waited for blue sky for a few days with no luck so one morning I packed everything and drove towards Cành Nàng.
The new road – a bit higher above the old QL15 is almost finished. It follows the river in the Mã River Valley. There are lots of chopstick factories next to the river. I took some pictures for you.

Getting more supplies
Getting more supplies with his trusted truck

Can you hear the noise?
Can you hear the noise?

Bamboo chopsticks production
Bamboo chopsticks production

Bamboo chopsticks production

Bamboo chopsticks production
Most of the factories are very small. Some have dedicated work space and others have the tools underneath their house.

Bamboo chopsticks production

Chopsticks
The finished product – ready for shipping. Strange that they do not pack in squares – they could get way more into the trucks.

US truck in front of an old IFA truck from East Germany
US truck in front of an old IFA truck from East Germany

Bamboo chopsticks production

The old road
The old road – not too much fun when it is wet. They constructed the last few kilometers so I had to drive on the old road again. Very happy that it was dry the last few days.

Working Woman
Working Woman

Traditional house
Traditional house which is to expensive to build now. A lot of the new ones are concrete like the one on the right.

Hard work but they are still happy
Hard work but they are still happy

Hello Hello
Hello Hello

The old truck is still in use
The old truck is still in use

Cành Nàng

Got to Cành Nàng round noon. Found a guest house and dropped the bag. Drove up the QL15C towards the Pù Luông Nature Reserve but it was too misty up there so I gave up after one hour and decided to try again at the next trip in spring 2018.

Different way to build a road to the village
Different way to build a road to the village

I had to turn back here - my road tires did not like the mud.
I had to turn back here – my road tires did not like the mud.

Rice - in the valley and along the mountains as well
Rice – in the valley and along the mountains as well

Peace full but to misty to explore
Peace full but to misty to explore

I hope I have more luck with the sky next winter
I hope I have more luck with the sky next winter

Imagine this with a blue sky
Imagine this with a blue sky

Nice construction to get the water into the rice fields
Nice construction to get the water into the rice fields

Not sure if he ever wanted to go to the Olympics
Not sure if he ever wanted to go to the Olympics

Food place in Cành Nàng
Food place in Cành Nàng. They have a food shop in front of the place. So I did my thing again with the phone and the “No Meat – No Animal” and they gestured me to the balcony in the back. Beer is never a problem and when the sun went down they started to cook. I love this small places.

Bamboo construction on a big pond
Bamboo construction on a big pond

You sip your beer and watch the locals fish under your feet
You sip your beer and watch the locals fish under your feet

Later the owner cooked my Dinner
Later the owner cooked my Dinner

Enough for tonight - and it was good!
Enough for tonight – and it was good!

The next day before my trip to Ninh Binh
The next day before my trip to Ninh Binh. Some people complain about my big bag. Here is a picture of the bag – if you compare it with the helmet it is not so big. Mind you I have cold and hot weather gear inside. It does look big because of the orange bag I use to protect the brown one form water and dirt.

 
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From Phố Châu to Pom Coong Village

2017-11-10 at 18:00

Gitte and Gieter had their flight out of Hanoi. Still a few days to kill so I invited them to drive with me to Pom Coong Village and leave the bike later at my friends Hotel in Ninh Binh. They wanted to give their bike to a friend but he was not in Vietnam for a few more days. That way he can pick it up in Ninh Binh. No need for them to drive into Hanoi with the bike – taking the bus instead and no need to find save parking for the bike till their friend get to Hanoi.
Their bike was fine for the whole trip only the rack was not good. Two heavy big backpacks and a small one was way to much. In the morning they when to a welding place to get if fixed again but the way it was done I gave it only 30-40 km before it would break again. We said Adios to Trần from the Ly Ha Hotel and drove towards Mai Chau.

Gitte and Gieter with a broken rack
Sure enough the rack broke after a few kilometres

Gitte did the usual thing. Down from the bike on the wrong side = burn your leg
Gitte did the rookie mistake. Down from the bike on the wrong side = you will burn your leg

Fresh Meat
Fresh Meat on the way to the butcher

The kid never listen so we had to stop at the middle of nowhere to get the rack fixed proper
The kids never listen so we had to stop at a small town in the middle of nowhere to get the rack fixed. Proper this time! I explained everything to the guy from the motorbike repair place. It is nice to talk to them when they do not speak English. We need this brrrrrrrr and this brrrrrrrr after that we need two pipes about thaaaaat long and you bzzzzzzz it here and here. He nods and hops on the bike to get a cutting tool and some pipe. A few beers later the bike was ready for new adventures.

And that is what the guys tried
Get down to business: Brrrrrrrrr

Why use welding glasses when you have a fake Ray Ban?
Why use welding glasses when you have a fake Ray Ban? Bzzzzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzbzzzbzz

Ready to go
Ready to go

Local house
Traditional Long House

Fighting the hills
Fighting the hills

Dinner in Tỉnh Thanh Hóa
Dinner in Tỉnh Thanh Hóa. Gitte is Vegetarian too so we drove round town to look for a place to eat. I have “Vegetarian Food. No meat no fish” on a note on my phone so we showed it at a few places till a grandmother nodded and we followed her into the restaurant. The husband went shopping for some greens and I checked the kitchen for more food. The beer was cold and we had a nice table full of food.

Lots of Vegetarian food

At the beer run
We drove a few kilometers back out-of-town to a Nhà Nghỉ we spotted on the way in. The place was brand new and the rooms OK. Had to do a beer run since they did not sell beer. This lady wanted a picture with me so I put her on the laundry detergent bucket. Big fun for the rest of the restaurant.

Đức Tại Guesthouse in Tỉnh Thanh Hóa
The Guesthouse: Đức Tại in Tỉnh Thanh Hóa

Đức Tại Guesthouse in Tỉnh Thanh Hóa

Đức Tại Guesthouse in Tỉnh Thanh Hóa

Pom Coong

Took them to my favorite Guesthouse in Pom Coong – No. 24. Still the best place in town. Far away from the big tourist center so you still can enjoy a cold brew with dinner in the evening without all the souvenir selling places next to you. The food is still amazing and the place is still cheap. More information on Pom Coong and Guesthouse No 24 in this blog post from last year.
Walking the fields behind the town we saw a few new resort style places and lots of new souvenir stands. If No. 24 would not be there – I would not stop! But since it is very convenient on the way you will find me next year again there for a few days.

The rice fields of Pom Coong
The rice fields of Pom Coong

Traditional House in Pom Coong
Traditional House in Pom Coong

Traditional House in Pom Coong

The rice fields of Pom Coong

The rice fields of Pom Coong

Farmer on the way home

Gitte and Gieter on the way to Ninh Binh
Gitte and Gieter posing for the final photo before they move on towards Ninh Binh – see you again guys!

Traditional Dance

One evening a group of British bikers stopped for dinner at Guesthouse No 24. The guesthouse organized a Dancing Show for them in the cord yard. Took a few snaps from the balcony. I have better pictures and a video at the post from last year.

Traditional Dance

Traditional Dance

Traditional Dance

Traditional Dance

Traditional Dance

Traditional Dance

 
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