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

From Phố Châu to Pom Coong Village

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 safe parking for the bike till their friend gets 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 too much. In the morning they when to a welding place to get it 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.

Gitte and Gieter with a broken rack


Sure enough, the rack broke after a few kilometers

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 around 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

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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A few Days in Phố Châu

Charity Work with Mr. Trần

Mr. Trần Đình Trợ is not an ordinary man. He is out there to help others. And he does it every day! I use Mr. Trần here so you do not confuse him with my friend Trần! Mr. Trần usually wears a hat so it is easy to know who is who!

Mr. Trần and me
My friend Trần took me to meet Mr. Trần. We went to the English School he is running on the side. They collect books for the children. Fixed a few computers and provide internet in the classroom. But the main purpose of the building is giving free English class to kids that could not afford it otherwise.

Mr. Trần gives the contributions and sits for the proofing picture
One day he went out to give donations and money to people. Trần asked if I want to ride along. Gitte and Gieter stayed at the same hotel so we took them too. Mr. Trần collects donations and gives them to those who are in need. This picture is from our second stop that day. We went to a home where the parents take care of their son. His hip is open and he has multiple other problems. Money and supplies where dropped and a picture to proof that the family got the donation is taken. On the green paper you see a list of names and the amount they gave. This way everybody can be sure that the money they gave reaches the people.

On the way to the next house - Heenezy and Maria protect us!
On the way to the next house – Heenezy and Maria protect us. You do read right: Heenezy! The car is not from the organization. Somebody drove us with his car so we could go from house to house. Since some people get not only money we needed a car to transport the other things.

House and household goods donated
House and household goods donated. A guy from the local government was also there and a few neighbors to celebrate.

Counting the donation money
Counting the donation money

Group photo
Group photo. You can see how much they got on the wall. Not sure if you really need to have a banner like that all the time but that is the way they do it.
I was hoping for the food they prepared but we went on to the next place after the picture.

Another House
Another House – this one still under construction. We stopped at a few more places and where back at our hotel in the late afternoon. Quite a day different from the others. And very interesting as well.

The Green Food Place in Phố Châu

Food place in Phố Châu

Food place in Phố Châu
Nothing special but I liked the green walls and the contrast with the orange and red plastic.

Photo shooting at the Temple

Trần is into Photography and one of his friends is a Photographer. One afternoon we tagged along with him to a temple where he took some pictures of an old man. I took the opportunity to get a few pictures as well. But the guy had my lens so I only could use the 50mm and of course I had to stay back and could not get the best angle.

Temple Roof

Reading at the temple
So this is staged – not like the usual pictures I take

Happy old man
He does look like a happy old man!

Do you like my pictures?
Not sure why but they put me there to show him the pictures so they could get some shoots with us.

At the Chinese Temple

Tree at the temple

Sunset at the temple
Sunset at the temple – not really – only some clouds.
We went to another small temple far from the main road.

Baby Goat
Baby Goat

Kids on a bike
Kids on a bike

Bringing home the buffalo
Bringing home the buffalo

Can I have a picture with you?
Can I have a picture with you? Sure enough word spreads fast when a tall white guy stands in the fields. So everybody stopped and they waited to see what we do.

Everybody came over to see what we do

Even he came over for a selfie with me
Even he came over for a selfie with me

Back in Phố Châu

At the butcher shop
At the butcher shop in the morning

Song Hà - a famous Vietnamese writer
Song Hà – a famous Vietnamese writer. He offered me a drink and we took a picture together. He put me on his Facebook for a while and I never saw that many likes for a picture in one day.

Picture with the monk
Trần took me to a temple. They wanted a picture with me as well.

Dinner at the temple
Later another monk came over and walked us round the temple. He invited us to stay for dinner. Great – only vegetarian food here. One of the monks worked in East Germany before and could speak German. So he was happy to talk to me in German. He still has his former wife and kid over there in Germany and visits every year. Small world!

Dinner with friends of Trần
Nice dinner – not too much food for me but the beer was cold

And a picture with the girls
The next evening we went to meet some of Trần’s friends. A picture with the girls – why not?

At the Wedding Shop
At the Wedding Shop

Phan Chau Trinh School

Strange things happen everywhere. More or less this school is in the middle of nowhere and a German guy helped to build this school and another one in Quang Nam. Rudolf Walther gave 500.000€ the German World University Service gave some and the rest of the money was from the province government. The school can also be used as shelter if the province gets flooded.

Schoolboard
The school board

The School Guard
The School Guard

Phan Chau Trinh School
Phan Chau Trinh School

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