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

Winter 17/18 – Off to Vietnam

Two months in Thailand went to fast – as usual. The morning after my birthday party it was time to take a TukTuk to the airport in Chiang Mai

Tuk-Tuk to the airport
Tuk-Tuk to the airport

At NOK-Air they have Angels and Butterflies!!
At NOK-Air they have Angels and Butterflies!!

At Thai Lion Air they have Chinese tourists
At Thai Lion Air they have Chinese tourists. Hmm – but they are cheaper to fly still I should look into Nok next time!

The plane. Have a look at the smoke in the back!
The plane waiting for us to board. Have a look at the smoke in the back!

A lot of space in that one!
A lot of space in that one!

Looks quite ok
Looks quite ok

The nice staff of Thai Lion Air put me in the 1st row - 3 seats for me and more legroom. They changed the lights to blue for the flight
The nice staff of Thai Lion Air put me in the 1st row – 3 seats for me and more legroom. They changed the lights to blue for the flight

Chiang Mai on a normal day in the beginning of February. Can you see the smoke?
Chiang Mai on a normal day in the beginning of February. Can you see the smoke?

Hanoi – Vietnam

There was a time the fires in the North started at the end of March or April. But this time is long gone. If the Thais would not set fields and forest on fire in January I could stay a bit longer and avoid Tết in Vietnam. But this year (again) I arrived a few days before. Most of the shops are closed and everybody is on the move to see the family. After all, Tết or the Vietnamese New Year is the most important celebration in Vietnam. The plane got into Hanoi International in the evening. You never know how long you need at immigration so I usually have a hotel for the first night in Hanoi. On this trip I needed to change money as well so had to wait for the next morning anyhow to get the best rates for my trip.

The airport bus to downtown Hanoi. Free WiFi and only 1,15€ at the time of travelling
The airport bus to downtown Hanoi. Free WiFi and only 1,15€ at the time of travelling

The Golden Wings Hotel in Hanoi
The Golden Wings Hotel in Hanoi. Should read the description better next time. Comes without private bathroom. Well no problem for one night but the bathroom was way to small to even take a picture of it. If you stay here take any room but this one.

2 Beds, Tv, Ac a table and chair
2 Beds, Tv, Ac a table and chair – everything super clean and the bed – a dream!!

Comes with a shared bathroom - that is super small
Comes with a shared bathroom – that is super small – so the toothbrush packaging makes a lot of sense 🙂

Local beer check - € 0,40 and up. Good!
Local beer check – € 0,40 and up. Good!

The import beer starts at € 0,70 up to 2,11€ for 500 ml. Super cheap compared to Thailand!
The import beer starts at € 0,70 up to 2,11€ for 500 ml. Super cheap compared to Thailand!

Watering the flowers
Watering the flowers in the morning. You see – you do not see! Traffic that is. Almost none in Hanoi!

On the way to the money changers - OMG!
On the way to the money changers – OMG!

This is my favourite place if you ever in need of a money changer in Hanoi
This is my favourite place if you ever in need of a money changer in Hanoi

And just a few more steps you can get the best French Croissants
And just a few more steps you can get the best French Croissants I ever had in the city.

With the local bus to the bus station and from there to Ninh Binh
With the local bus to the bus station and from there to Ninh Binh. 70.000 Dong – about 2,60€

At my friend's place outside of Ninh Binh
At the place of my friends outside of Ninh Binh

Lots of work waiting to clean the construction side
They just got the house and build the new part between the two old houses. The green roof that is. Lots of work waiting to clean the construction side and start the garden in front of the house and at the orange spot on the upper left corner

There is a small mountain behind the house
There is a small mountain behind the house

Lots of construction along the streets
Lots of construction along the streets

Outside of Ninh Binh
You can imagine how it looks with blue sky!

The older part of the area - there was a time when building next to the road was not that important
The older part of the area – there was a time when building your house next to the road was not that important

Rice planting season
This time of the year: Rice planting season

You can see all the footprints
You can see all the footprints

Lots of work
Lots of work

Work work work...
Work work work…

And more work
And more work – people in the northern part of Vietnam decorate their house with peach blossoms (hoa đào). We gave this one a nice pot and lots of that red earth from behind the house.

Dinner at the house
Dinner at the house

The Tet fire
The Tet fire! You would not believe it – the government speaker was blaring Happy New Year from ABBA!!!

You go to the house of relatives and relatives come to your house
You go to the house of relatives and relatives come to your house – basic 101 Tet holiday season. And food – a lot of food! And moonshine – even more moonshine!

A very happy Viet!
A very happy Viet!

And his father is happy as well
And his father is happy as well

Lots of vegetarian options
Lots of vegetarian options for me. What a nice afternoon. And beer – they had beer as well. This evening I went to bed early.

Old and young come together for a few days
Old and young come together for a few days

They eat and drink and talk a lot too
They eat and drink and talk a lot too

The old guys trad stories from the good old times
The old guys trad stories from the good old times

The only thing that I understand is when I have to drink another moonshine with them
The only thing that I understand is when I have to drink another moonshine with them – basically every few minutes.

Of course, Tết Nguyên Đán is way more – not only food and moonshine and visiting relatives. If you are interested Wikipedia has an excellent article about the Vietnamese New Year celebration.

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