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 – From A Loui to Phong Nha

Pictures, hotel information and maps from this part of my Winter 17/18 trip in Vietnam.

Had a nice evening with Rin in A Lưới. Slept well at the Thanh Quang Guesthouse. After a coffee, it was time to put the bag on the bike. Paid the room and I was on the move again.

Less and less trees every year I pass here
Less and less trees every year I ride that stretch of road
Truong Son road - Ho Chi Minh trail
Truong Son road – Ho Chi Minh trail

No need to type in that web sites. One is dead and the other one leads to a big site where you will not find anything if you do not speak the language.

Ho Chi Minh Highway Sign
Not sure for whom they put this sign up
Forrest along the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Still you find big trees from time to time
Slash and burn along the road
Slash and burn along the road
The forest goes so fast and becomes farmland
The forest goes so fast and becomes farmland
Clear cut along Ho Chi Minh Trail
All over Vietnam it is the same. Only in the North where it is still green it is evident. Not a lot left in the South anymore.
A mountain with a forest hat
A mountain with a forest hat
I bet you - next time it will look different
I bet you – next time it will look different
Finished Dam at the Ho Chi Minh Highway
Took quite a while but the dam is finished

I have two pictures from Winter 15/16 and Winter 16/17 in this blog post.

Forest up at the top - farmland below
Forest up at the top – farmland below
No more forest left
If you have farmland up in the mountains you need streets that will kill the farmland below. As long as you own the farmland on top it does not matter to much for you. But if you have the land below you wont be happy.

A Night in Khe Sanh

Stayed at my usual Guesthouse in Khe Sanh. Had some dinner and a early night. The next day I continued my ride to Phong Nha

Ngoc Chau Guesthouse in Khe Sanh
Ngoc Chau Guesthouse in Khe Sanh
Ngoc Chau Guesthouse
My room at the Ngoc Chau Guesthouse in Khe Sanh. Sports a TV, hot shower, toilet, fan, Wifi and AC for 6 US $.
Seating area
Seating area
Door to the bathroom
Entertainment at the wall and the door towards the private bathroom
Bathroom at Ngoc Chau Guesthouse
The bathroom

Today I drove only 106 kilometer in 3 hours. Not really to much but no way to drive from here all the way to Phong Nha if you start as late as I usually do.

If you are in the area make sure to stop at the Khe Sanh Combat Base. The base is on the way towards Phong Nha a few kilometers after Khe Sanh. Read up before it or at last after it. It was one of the most dangerous places in the war. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article about one famous battle: The Battle of Khe Sanh

The Beauty and the Beast

And here are a few pictures from last years visit

From Khe Sanh to Phong Nha

A new road over the river
A new road over the river
New propaganda along the road
New propaganda along the road
Sad landscape left
Sad landscape left
At last it is green
At last it is green
Clear cut forest along the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Next time we will know what crops they plant
Snake on a road
Wildlife crossing
The road gets wider
The road gets wider
A stretch of green forest
A stretch of green
Nice part of the road
Nice part of the road
Most of the big trees are gone
Most of the big trees are gone
One of the few villages up in the mountains
One of the few villages up in the mountains
Very basic huts
Very basic huts
Water Buffalo
At last he has a water hole

Last year when I drove this part of the Ho Chi Minh Road they where digging holes for the power poles. Now they have power and you can see satellite dishes on most of the houses. It is the same all over the place. First they get a TV and watch shitty shows. Product placement and commercials tell them what to consume and the whole place starts to change quick into “it looks all the same no matter where you go”. Luckily I found some places without power on this trip. But it gets harder and harder.
Guess the locals do see that different. Of course, I would be happy if I have power at home. But I am a tourist and see things very selfish and different.

A new gas station along the way
A new gas station along the way. No need to carry gasoline in water bottles anymore!
Happy Water Buffalo's
Happy Water Buffalo’s

Today something went wrong!

There was a new gas station but I still had enough gas. So I drove on – that was a big mistake. The station I wanted to fill up was closed and so where many of the small stalls on the road that sell you gas in bottles or pump it for you out of a barrel. I got to the fork at the road where it went down towards the sea again. Not sure if I could make it to Phong Nha with the gas that was left I decided to drive down and fill up at the next station. Which was almost at the beach! And I had to drive up again to get the best bit of this days drive. The limestone mountains before Phong Nha.

But this went not well too! As soon as I got back up again heavy fog moved in and it got cold and wet. Could not see a thing – had to concentrate on the road in front of me. No nice view with a sunset like last time.

In the end I drove 291 kilometer in 8 hours. With stops for gas, pictures and food.

The Thành Đạt Hotel in Phong Nha

Thành Đạt Hotel in Phong Nha is only a few meter away from Tran’s place. And it is nice and clean.

My room in at the Thành Đạt Hotel in Phong Nha
My room in at the Thành Đạt Hotel in Phong Nha
Of course with AC and TV
Of course with AC and TV
The bathroom
The bathroom

The hotel has a new name: Elegant Hostel and it is on booking.com

Khát - she is working the mini market
Khát – she is working the mini market
Trang after only one coffee!
Trang after only one coffee!

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Winter 17/18 – The Tomb Rider Road to Hue

From Phong Nha to Dong Ha

The last few times I went down this road it was from Dong Hoi and I went all the way to Hue. But this way there is not enough time to admire the graves along the road. This time I broke it down into two parts to have more time. From Phong Nha to Dong Ha on the first day. And from Dong Ha to A Loui on the second day. And if there will be rain I still can stay another day to take some pictures of the tombs. There is another post from the 2016/17 trip with a few more pictures of the beach and some other tombs.

Guess next time I will spend a day or more at the beach as well.

Day one from Phong Nha to Dong Ha

Hoa Phuong Guesthouse in Dong Ha

Hoa Phuong Guesthouse
The room at Hoa Phuong Guesthouse

Took a room at the Hoa Phuong Guesthouse in Dong Ha. A very nice friendly family runs this place. Secure parking for the bike and a good room where you can leave the window open the whole day – thanks to the bars.

Hoa Phuong Guesthouse
Comes with a fridge on top of the usual TV and AC
Hoa Phuong Guesthouse
Shower and Toilet

Today’s ride – down from the mountains to the coast. Tomorrow the Graves & Rice-field road is waiting.

The Tomb Rider Road from Dong Ha to Hue

This time of the year you might have a blue and sunny day or it is gray and overcast the whole day. I had a mix of clouds and blue sky but you will see that in the pictures that come up now. Left the hotel not to early and took the road towards the beach.
The 200 km stretch of coast between Dong Hoi and the former imperial capital of Hue is still untouched and completely empty. If you oversee a few spots along the beach where somebody tried to start some hotels or resorts. Mostly you will see fisherman doing their fisherman stuff on the beach. Repairing nets or get the boats in and out of the water.
The beach itself is for the most part quite clean as soon as you get away from the bigger villages along the coast. A bit back from the shore the rice fields begin and in them, you will find thousands of traditional Vietnamese-Chinese royal style tombs. Usually, they are elaborately decorated and well looked after.

At the grave road towards Hue
At the grave road towards Hue
Regular graveyard
Regular graveyard
Never saw sunflower fields but it might be because I am only there in winter?
Never saw sunflower fields but it might be because I am only there in winter?
Very different from the other ones
Very different from the other ones
I like the colors
I like the colors
Quite different with this bowl in the middle
Quite different with this bowl in the middle
The tomb stone in the back
The tomb stone in the back
Monument
Monument
Another monument
Another monument

The Traditional Vietnamese Grave Houses

This one comes with the lions on each side
This one comes with the lions on each side
Usually the entrance from the gate leads to the tomb. Looks like somebody added a second one on the left
Usually the entrance from the gate leads to the tomb. Looks like somebody added a second one on the left
A small gate followed by a wall
A small gate followed by a wall
A bit different in style
A bit different in style
Only a fence around it
Only a fence around it
Quite some space between the gate and the actual tomb
Quite some space between the gate and the actual tomb
The birds in front of the tomb
The birds in front of the tomb – this time Golden
This one has only a wall and no gate
This one has only a wall and no gate
A new one with a bridge
A new one with a bridge
It looks similar but it is way bigger
It looks similar but it is way bigger
Graves and houses are all mixed in the fields
Graves and houses are all mixed in the fields
He / she must be important
He / she must be important
If they keep building the graves they will run out of rice fields soon
If they keep building the graves they will run out of rice fields soon

What else was there to see Today?

Drove to the beach for a quick look. It is still deserted and has super fine sand!!

Waves on the beach
Waves on the beach
So calming
So calming
30 minutes break from the road!
Soldiers cemetery
Soldiers cemetery
To many of those all over the world
To many of those all over the world
Cactus next to the road
Cactus next to the road
The road less traveled
The road less traveled
Shrimp farm
Shrimp farm
I wonder if they burn the trash here
I wonder if they burn the trash here
Smaller graves close to Hue on the right side of the road
Smaller graves close to Hue on the right side of the road
Fisherman houses on the left side of the road
Fisherman houses on the left side of the road

A Night in A Lưới at the Thang Quang Guesthouse

Since I wanted to see Rin in A Luoi there was no need to spend the night in Hue. I continued the road up the mountains to A Luoi and checked into my usual hotel. Usually, they gave me a room downstairs in the Thanh Quang Guesthouse but this time I got one upstairs. The rooms downstairs are bigger and have two big beds. Upstairs they have only one bed which is not too big but enough for one person.

Take a look at the other room in this post here from my 2015/16 trip.

The Thanh Quang Guesthouse in A Loui
The Thanh Quang Guesthouse in A Loui
Small room with shower and toilet
Small room with shower and toilet
This time I was at the 1st floor. Quite different from the usual room
This time I was at the 1st floor. Quite different from the usual room
Vegetarian restaurant at the main road
Vegetarian restaurant at the main road

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