Winter 17/18 – From Thái Nguyên to Pom Coong

Valley in North Vietnam

Spend two nights in Thái Nguyên to relax a bit after the loooong drive down from the mountains. Sorry but there was nothing interesting to share. As far as I saw the town when shopping that is. The only interesting thing to report: There was a girl from Brasil I think on her scooter so I went with her to have pizza. No clue why she craved it and sure enough the pizza was as bad as I expected it. That interesting it was. Might be because I was too lazy to go and see the city. Apart from that, I have nothing to report from Thái Nguyên.

Nam My Van Homestay
Nam My Van Homestay

The Nam My Van Homestay and booking.com

Nam My Van Homestay is in a small lane down from the main street. No way you would wander down that lane and find that homestay by yourself. They have a 9.1 rating by now on booking. Usually, they are really good booked and very happy to have this biz on the side.
Mitsos told me the other day in Surat Thani how bad booking and such sites are for the small people. But here I sit and this guy was so happy. He could not have a biz at all without. Who would find him??
Also, last winter when I was in Indonesia I stayed a few days with a family that converted the family house into a hotel. He told me that before booking only rich people could afford to open a hotel. Or you had to be lucky and your hotel was in the street that became the main tourist area to have enough customers. Like Khao San Road in Bangkok a long time ago. But now he said I can open my own place here and people come and it is far from the city center.
I asked a few more of the small place owner and they all said the same. We have no idea how to find customers if we would not be on these big booking sites. I guess every medal has two sides and sometimes it is good to see the other one as well. Of course, Mitsos does not really agree with me here. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Entrance to the homestay
Entrance to the homestay
Little Brown Dog
They had two dogs a German Shepard and this little brown one.

On the Road again

DaiViet Pilsner
Brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 they claim. Interesting!!
Quite modern place on the other side of the lake
Quite modern place on the other side of the lake
Sunset over the mountains
Sunset over the mountains
Village in a Valley
Nice view down the valley
Mountain in Ricefields
That looks sooo great!

Today’s drive:
I drove 214 kilometers in 6 hours and 31 minutes with gas and food stops.

Pom Coong

Went back to my old Guesthouse No 24. Boy, this place changed a lot. The upper part of the village where the guesthouse is looks still like 3 years ago.
But if you walk down to the other guesthouses. They ship (mainly) Vietnamese tourist by busses so you better stay clear. And the quiet fields further down in the valley? New expensive hotels and small villa resorts all over the place. Guess I do not have to come back here again. Sad – I really liked it here and they have super good food in the guesthouse as well.

More information on Pom Coong and Guesthouse No 24 in this blog post from last year.

Sunset over Pom Coong
Sunset over Pom Coong
Dinner
Dinner
Homestay in traditional Longhouse in Pom Coong
Usually, I have my place all the way down in the Longhouse. This time I got the one at the door. Why not? Most of the time I am the only guest so it does not matter to much. And yes – there is a mosquito net here as well.
Breakfast
Breakfast at the guesthouse. Strange mix but since I do not eat meat she got creative every morning 🙂
Rice field in Pom Coong
Walked a bit into the valley
Rice field in Pom Coong
I love that green!
Lunch in Pom Coong
Lunch
Birthday celebration
This couple came here with the whole birthday set. You get a cake and a bag with the hat, candles, plates and forks as well as a knife. You eat the cake and take some pix and everything goes into the trash. Hmmmm
Birthday couple
They made some pictures till coffee was ready
Cake
I got some cake as well. It was good!!
Sunset and Hanoi Beer
Beer o’ clock!!
Dinner
My Dinner

Dinner on the other side of the Street

Burning the pigs hair
Burning the pigs hair
Small dog prepared for Dinner
Small dog prepared for Dinner
Dog and Pig prepared for dinner
Not sure why they eat such a small dog but ppl eat super small pigs as well. Meateater – who can understand them??
Dog and dead dog
Wonder what big dog is thinking
Dogfood
One is a pet and one is food… Dogfood
Woman and kids looking out of a window
Waiting for dinner

The Lao Loop

Wanted to do the Lao Loop the last two years but it was gray sky for most of the time so I skipped it. Which was a mistake.
This year I went and I left the Canon in the bag and took only 3 pictures with the iPhone.
There was nothing interesting left to share 🙁

Old IFA truck
If you want to see them old IFA trucks from East Germany still working – you have to come to Vietnam. Not to many left on the streets but in the nNorth you still find them every other day
Door Sticker
I do not get this sticker. It is so wrong – every word apart from Angeren is spelled wrong. Who makes this and why??
Water Wheels
Water Wheels

Today’s drive:
I drove 237 kilometers in 8 hours, 7 minutes with gas and food stops.

If you are in the area do a loop on the QL15 C and swing on the DT432A. Should be much nicer.

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From Pom Coong to Cành Nàng

Chopsticks

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

Gitte and Gieter try to fix the broken rag

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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