Winter 17/18 From Lạng Sơn⁩ over ‎⁨Huyện Quảng Uyên⁩ to Ba Bể Lake

Then next day of our tour in Northern Vietnam. It was gray but dry which is better than gray and wet. But does not make for nice pictures. We had coffee in the room and Mitsos had some breakfast. And on the bikes we where.

A cloudy and gray morning
A cloudy and gray morning
Small village over the rice fields
Small village over the rice fields
This must be super lovely with blue sky
This must be super lovely with blue sky
Great landscape to cross
Great landscape with small roads
Lots of green mountains left - view from the 34 a bit before Nguyen Binh
Lots of green mountains left – view from the 34 a bit before Nguyen Binh
Corn fields
Corn fields
Dreamland with some smoke
Dreamland with some smoke

The locals call this Dragon Back Panorama. It is part of the Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark.

Rice terraces before Xa Quang Thanh
Rice terraces before Xa Quang Thanh
An old french villa
An old french villa
The rice fields eating slowly into the forest
The rice fields eating slowly into the forest
Interesting mix of vegetation
Interesting mix of vegetation
Rice terraces
Lets see next time how much the rice terraces go up the mountain
Blue sky!!
Blue sky!!
Looking down the hill next to Mr. Buffalo
Looking down the hill next to Mr. Buffalo
Nice view for Mr. Buffalo if the sky is blue. But no shadow nowhere.
Nice view for Mr. Buffalo if the sky is blue. But no shadow nowhere.
On the DT 253 looking down into the valley
On the DT 253 looking down into the valley
The road winds down into the valley. You can see the rice in the back is waiting to get planted in the new field
The road winds down into the valley. You can see the rice in the back is waiting to get planted in the new field
Almost at the bottom of the valley - back to rice farming country
Almost at the bottom of the valley – back to rice farming country
Looking back up the mountain
Looking back up the mountain
Rice planting a bit before Ban Luoc
Rice planting a bit before Ban Luoc
You can see how nice it is planted - all by hand
You can see how nice it is planted – all by hand
All fresh - I like the green
All fresh – I like the green
Rural road in Vietnam
Shortcut to the DT 279
More planting action after Ban Hon
More planting action after Ban Hon
Rice field
Checking out the progress
Checking out the progress
And taking over to finish the field
And taking over to finish the field

Ba Bể Lake

The second day of riding proved to be much better. Most of the time we even had blue sky! Great landscape again with a few sad parts.

Finally Ba Be Lake
Finally Ba Be Lake
Just in time for the sunset
Just in time for the sunset
A fisherman doing his fisherman stuff
A fisherman doing his fisherman stuff

Day 3 of this Loop: 149 kilometers in 7 hours with gas and food stops

Day 4 of this Loop: 170 kilometers in 6 hours and 20 minutes with gas and food stops

My Hotel at Ba Be Lake: Quỳnh Mai Homestay

The Boss Lady is still cleaning the bathroom
The Boss Lady is still cleaning the bathroom
Evening view from my room
Evening view from my room
The view towards the right
The view towards the right

I like this place! Great view and the food is good. The room is one floor down from the main building and on the other side of the road. This way you do not hear any traffic. Birds and insects only. And I love the view too.

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Winter 17/18 From Ninh Binh over Binh Long to Lạng Sơn⁩

From Ninh Binh to Binh Long

I started this winter trip quite late to push the return flight back into May. This way I am able to do the North Vietnam Loop in April. This would give me better chances to see more blue sky. But that did not happen cause Mitzos decided he comes over and drive with me. But he also wanted to be back in Bangkok for Songkran. That is the New Year in Thailand. So I had to do the loop mid-March instead of April. One never knows how the sky might look ad if it rains or not. Since spring comes to the North of Vietnam in April – the later you go the better it is. It turned out to be just like I expected it – mostly gray and lots of rain. Guess I have to do that again. Only with all that logging and dam building going on. Not sure if it is really worth it. Guess you have to find the last pockets of resisting out there. But I leave that for next time. Now let’s have a look at the pictures.

A very happy Mitzos with his old helmet
A very happy Mitzos with his old helmet

We started from Ninh Binh and it was not easy to explain to the Greek why we had to go East to do a proper loop. He only wanted to go to Sapa to see what was on sale over there. A strange animal after all.

Ricefield in Vietnam
Time to plant the rice. Somewhere before Binh Long.
Preparing the rice field before planting
Preparing the rice field before planting
A green rock
One of the smaller ones
Chicken looking for food
Looking for food

It was late afternoon when we passed a nice little town and it was time to look for a hotel. But Mitzos wanted to find something along the river. I agreed – big mistake. We drove and drove – very nice landscape but already it got dark so I could not take pictures. And nothing – absolute nothing in terms of a Nhà Nghi along the road. When it was completely dark we found a really shitty one in a small village. If you ever drove in the countryside of Vietnam in the night you know the roads. Some potholes are larger than a bathtub and can swallow you and your bike. Trucks that blind you so you wont see anything and therefore will not see any pothole. Or the street for that matter. The list goes on and on. So you better have a place to stay for the night before nightfall.

Today’s drive: 228 kilometers in 8 hours and 13 minutes including food and gas stops. Looking at the map in the evening, I was not happy. We drove not really the best way. Should have gone way more east to avoid heavy traffic and boring landscape close to Hanoi. Well next time….

From Binh Long to Lạng Sơn

After a short night in our luxury hotel we continued our trip. The sky was gray for most of the day but it stayed dry. Which was good. Today no more nonsense – we stop at a bigger place with more options.

Looking over the river
Looking over the river
The DT 244 before Dinh Ca
The DT 244 before Dinh Ca
Peacefull lake
Peacefull lake
Monument in Xa Tan Wan on the 14
Monument in Xa Tan Wan on the 14

As far as I could translate it is something like: Tan Van Commune, Bing Ghia District is the winner of Lung Son Province in the period of resistance against the French (1946-1954).
On this road No 4 and the border campaign in 1950.
At Dong province here from the end of 1947 to the 1950s. From 16th to 19th of June 1948 the general meeting of the party is organized in Bac Dao, X Van Binh District
From the 25th to the 29th of June 1049 the general association of the second party of the Lang Son Province is organized in Dinh Dong Thon, Tan Van commune in Binh Cia district.

A Fisherman at Chau Khanh Keh on the 1B
A Fisherman at Chau Khanh Keh on the 1B
Another dam
Another dam
River, rice fields, mountains and a few houses
River, rice fields, mountains and a few houses
A look on the other side - imagine blue sky!
A look on the other side – imagine blue sky!
On the DT 235C somewhere in Song Giap
On the DT 235C somewhere in Song Giap
The beautiful lake in Lang Son
The beautiful lake in Lang Son

We arrived quite early at Lang Son so we had time to go for a walk after we found our hotel. This spot was beautiful. There was a big garden to the left – a perfect spot for a Bia Hoi place. But look at all the trash in the lake. No clue why the city does not clean these spots. There is money for propaganda posters and flags and what not everywhere. But nobody cares how the rest of the city looks.

The best Hotel in Lạng Sơn: The Trung Xuân

We looked at a few shitty places and by chance we drove past the entrance of this place. From the street you have to go into the courtyard and there you find the hotel. According to TripAdvisor the restaurant is also good. We paid only 16 US $ for this room! Find it at 29 Tam Thanh, Thành phố Lạng Sơn.

Finally at the hotel
Finally at the hotel
Very nice room with two big beds
Very nice room with two big beds
Our window goes out to...
Our window goes out to…
....the ball room??
….the ball room??
The wedding was the next morning when we left
The wedding was the next morning when we left

Today’s drive:
We drove 147 kilometres in 6 hours and 14 minutes with gas and food stops.

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Winter 17/18 – From Phong Nha to Ninh Binh

On this trip I wanted some blue sky in the North. So I pushed it as far back in the year as I could. But Dimitry had other plans. He wanted to go to the water festival in Thailand. I told him not to come before April but he does not care of course. So I had to drive up North after a few days in Phong Nha to meet him in Ninh Binh.
Checked out of the Elegant Hostel which had another name at the time. They are now on booking.com and I would go there again!

I have a few pictures of my room at the Elegant Hostel all the way down at my last blog post: Winter 16/17: From A Loui to Phong Nha

Adios Phong Nha
Adios Phong Nha

I have this picture so many times now. I do like this one since I have no clouds on it. Last time it started to rain and I had to get one of those capes that are really to small for me. And after a few hours in the rain it got quite cold. Much better today!

Mountains close to Cha Noi
Mountains close to Cha Noi
Local House
This kind of house I only saw in this region
Houses in front of Mountains in Vietnam
Very different from the other ones in Vietnam
House in Vietnam
The modern style with a metal house next to the original wood house
Old house in Vietnam
In the good old times the roof was still done with roof tiles
Modern House in Vietnam
This one is the latest fashion – metal with a big roof in front

I have some more pictures of the houses from the last trip from Phong Nha to Phố Châu

A few night in Phố Châu

Pho Chau
The roundabout in Pho Chau

Stopped in Phố Châu for a few days to see Trần again. He is the manager of my hotel and the Ly Ha Hotel is now on booking.com. Most of his free time he spends helping kids to learn English. And so we went to teach them some English.

The Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu

Room at the Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu
Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu
Bed at the Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu
The bed
Girl with water
A young girl bringing some water from the sea. Strange art here in the mountians. Took of her nipple – sorry! But you know facebook 🙁
Bathroom at the Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu
Bathroom at the Ly Ha Hotel in Phố Châu

Today’s Drive: 181 Kilometer in 3 hours and 30 minutes with a few stops

Butcher shop in the morning
Butcher shop in the morning
At the electronic shop
At the electronic shop
Family dinner
I was invited every day for the family lunch and dinner
The latest addition to the family
The latest addition to the family
My friend Trần - the manager of the hotel
My friend Trần – the manager of the hotel

Thank you Trần! See you again next year!

From Phố Châu to Ninh Binh

Took no pictures today. Was only driving and driving and driving…
Went down to the A1 to save some time. Not really nice but so much faster. Would only recommend that road if you in a hurry.

Today’s Drive: 252 Kilometers in 5 hours and 35 minutes with a few stops

Back in Ninh Binh

New dog in da house
New dog in da house

Ninh Binh Brothers Hotel

Got my stuff at my friends house and said “Hello” to the new dog. Drove to the Ninh Binh Brothers Hotel where I usually stay in Ninh Binh. The Brothers Hotel is in booking.com and if you go to Ninh Binh – stay there!

The Pink Room at the Two Brothers Hotel in Ninh Binh
The Pink Room at the Two Brothers Hotel
The Pink Room at the Two Brothers Hotel in Ninh Binh
Comes with a nice hand carved wood bed
The Pink Room at Two Brothers Hotel Ninh Binh
The bathroom door on the left
Happy Viet
Happy Viet

At the Bia hơi Place at the Lake

First we tried the open beer
First we tried the open beer

Bia is from French bière and hơi means gas. Bia hơi is a freshly brewed beer. It is usually delivered every day to the bars and restaurants that sell it. The beer is very light, most of the times it has not more than 3% alcohol. It is brewed without conservatives so it has to go fast. A glass of beer is anywhere between 3000 and 7000 Dong. 1 € is about 25.000 Dong.

Most of the places serve some food and snacks as well. Great to spend an evening with friends or make new friends.

At the Bia Hoi
At the Bia Hoi – Somebody is not to impressed
Viet needs more food
Viet needs more food
Later we had the fresh canned one
Later we had the fresh canned one and lots of food. Everybody was happy