Hello Vietnam! Back again in Saigon and off to Long Hai

June 1, 2017 at 20:11

8 weeks Thailand – most of it up North in Pai. Meeting old friends and making new ones. It was a very good time – I come back again 😉
The next few days should go down like that: Fly to Saigon, find a motorbike and get out of the city before Tet starts. The goal was to get to Long Hai with my new bike in 5 days from today – the day I left Bangkok. Sure enough that is more time than you need but I had a few friends coming in to Saigon as well and wanted to meet them. And I wanted a 135 cc bike which is a bit more complicated to find than your good old 125cc that you find in every street.
Boarding AirAsia BKK to SGN
Boarding AirAsia BKK to SGN

Quite busy at the old airport
Quite busy at the old airport

Enough space for me - they gave me an emergency exit row seat :-)
Enough space for me – they gave me an emergency exit row seat 🙂

Adios Bangkok
Adios Bangkok

The plane was not too high up so we had clouds above and under the plane for a long time. Nice to look at them – they change all the time – a dream land in the sky.

In the clouds over Vietnam
In the clouds over Vietnam

Over the delta in south Vietnam
Over the delta in south Vietnam

You can almost see the heat down there. And it does look quite humid as well.

Golf course close to Saigon
Golf course close to Saigon

Welcome to Saigon

The flight was smooth as silk – even on AirAsia 🙂 however immigration in Saigon was a big mess. I had my Visa on arrival papers from Vietnam Visa Pro (They are the BEST – use them!). Went to the counter and gave everything to the guys behind the glass. Waiting and waiting. From time to time an angry officer shouted at us: “Do not stand here – sit there” for no reason.
Most of my plane was gone with their passport stamped and my application still somewhere in there.
All the time some guys cut in-between with Fast Track Service. For 15 US$ you get the next slot. And for 30 US$ you get your papers worked on right away. That is worth looking into if you fly into Saigon. No need for it in Hanoi!!
One hour later – more planes arrived, more people waited. Only 3 guys from my plane left. At last I am not the only one. 90 minutes later an immigration office tried to call me with my name – but that was to complicated so he only yelled “Germany”. “I can not find your name!” We talk about 2 pieces of paper – printed only on one side each. With 18 names! And he could not find mine – I could without my glasses! A half hour or so later I got my passport. The 2 guys that had to wait as long as I had got a Uber into town and gave me a lift. The car did stop close to my hostel. So I walked over there and checked in. Time for some food and beer – what a welcoming country!

My 1st Bia Saigon for this trip
My 1st Bia Saigon for this trip

Bánh mì - Vegetarian
Bánh mì – Vegetarian

Day One in Saigon

There is a Vegetarian restaurant under the hostel. It turns into a sleeping room for the staff and parking hall for staff and guest motorbikes at night.
There is a Vegetarian restaurant under the hostel. It turns into a sleeping room for the staff and parking hall for staff and guest motorbikes at night

Morning market in front of the hostel
Morning market in front of the hostel

Distribution centre round the corner
Distribution centre round the corner

I walked to the gold shops at the side of Bến Thành Market. One of them had even a better rate for the € than the rate was for credit card cash!! And they are open the next few days before Tet. If you are in Saigon and want to change money try Dntn Vàng Hà Tâm next to the market! Here is a link to Google Maps.
Tet is the Vietnamese new year. If you ever travel to Vietnam make sure you do not have to move before or after Tet. The roads are full, many accidents, everything gets more expensive and most of the shops and restaurants close. So it might be a good idea to go to a tourist place along the coast. Over there at last the restaurants will be open. But I still had a few days to go. And the plan was to escape to the beach!

A 24/7 Vegan Restaurant! Next to the market!
A 24/7 Vegan Restaurant! Next to the market!

Only a few days to go before Tet. The park is a big flower market
Only a few days to go before Tet. The park is a big flower market

More flowers in the park
More flowers in the park

Waiting for tourists
Waiting for tourists

Ice Coffee
Vietnamese Ice Coffee – well deserved after my stroll to the money changers at the market.

WiFi was not working at my hostel so I did spend quite some time at the $nob Coffee
WiFi was not working at my hostel so I did spend quite some time at the $nob Coffee

And did try a few of their cakes as well
And did try a few of their cakes as well

Friends in Town!

Scott doing another visa run
Scott doing another visa run

Misha at the beginning of his Vietnam trip and Konstantin at the end of his visa run.
Misha at the beginning of his Vietnam trip and Konstantin at the end of his visa run.

Scott at the soup place
Scott at the soup place

My new Ride

My new ride - a Exciter 135 with a 5 speed manual gear box
My new ride – a Exciter 135 with a 5 speed manual gear box

14599 km on the clock
14599 km on the clock

Buying the bike was faster than expected. Took only 5 minutes – most of the time we did count money – 33 Million Dong. Some paperwork later the guy was happy and I only needed some elastic strings to get my bag fixed. Yes – it is the same bag I had last year.

Finally on the Road

There are not to many roads out of the city with the motorbike. You are not allowed on the fast highway so I opted for the ferry from Cat Lai Port to the other side and continue on the DT769 and the HL13 towards the QL51. Looks like the fastest way out of the city to me.
Once on the QL51 I only had to drive down to Long Hai. Since I had no clue how long it would take to get the bike and move from Saigon I booked a room in Long Hai for a night.

This is where rich people will move in soon
Somewhere in suburbia Saigon where rich people will move in soon

Waiting for the ferry
Waiting for the ferry in Cat Lai Port

Crossing the river
Crossing the river

We had about 34 degrees - but the Vietnamese do not want to work on their tan.
We had about 34 degrees – but the Vietnamese do not want to work on their tan

Time to check the phone
Time to check the phone and do all the little things before the race is on again on the other side

New church in Xã Tân Phước
New church in Xã Tân Phước. After all the years before Vietnam did open up again after the war they do construct the churches the same way as they did before the war. In the years after the North won the war the new churches looked nothing like that.

A bit further down the road - a church from the good old communist times
A bit further down the road – a church from the good old communist times

Maria
Maria with her baby boy

And her son
And only a few years later he was a man! Friendly with a big heart and a huge smile he waves at me.

Another minute down the road
Another minute down the road

Further down the QL 51 in Xã Tân Hải
Further down the QL 51 in Xã Tân Hải. The tower is not always on the right!

Happy to have visitors
Happy to have visitors

Giáo Xứ Long Hương Catholic church in Bà Rịa
Giáo Xứ Long Hương Catholic church in Bà Rịa

Salt production close to An Ngãi
Salt production close to An Ngãi

Salt production close to An Ngãi

Cathedral Parish Hailin Nhà thờ Giáo xứ Hải Lâm
Cathedral Parish Hailin Nhà thờ Giáo xứ Hải Lâm

Hello water - close to Ap Bung Rieng
Hello water – clost to Ap Bung Rieng

My ride Yamaha Exciter 135
New and clean – lets take some pictures – just in case…

Yamaha Exciter 135

Looook!

Vung Tau in the back
Time to get to my hotel – coast road with Vung Tau in the back

Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai was the stop for tonight. It is on the smaller street so not to noisy in the night. Check in was absolutely no sweat. The owner took the passport – showed me the room and a minute later I was in the shower. Great! The room was super clean, the shower as well. WiFi fast and stable, nice table with a chair. A good place. Left the window open at night with a nice breeze coming in from the ocean.
The room was 10 US $ for a night – check it out on booking.com.

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai
Bed, chair, table and a closet – which I never use

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

Todays Drive

111 km in a bit more than 4 hours with all the picture stops and some gas station time for the bike

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30 hours on the Train from Hanoi to Saigon

March 25, 2016 at 10:11

The first night on the train was not really good. Had booked the lower bed in a 6 bed compartment and there where only 3 of us. But at every stop somebody gets out and new people come in. Some only for one stop and some for a few. And the guy next to me was snoring like a hog. Good that I had a few beer since I was not tired.
In Saigon I booked Zu Coffee – a little home-stay a bit away from the centre. Since my bike does not travel with me in this train I would spend a bit more time there as intended. Still have to finish “The China Study” and another book is waiting. From the pictures at booking.com I know that they have a big garden. Looking forward to sit outside with only a shirt again. Blue sky and upper 20 degrees only 30 hours away!
Finally I managed to sleep – interrupted to many times in the night.

Look out of the train window
The next morning – still Gray and cold outside. Taken at Phong Nha-ke Bang National Park

Look out of the train window
A few hours later – still the same view.

Blue Sky!
Finally – in the afternoon: Blue sky at Tỉnh Thừa Thiên Huế! And the sun is back!

The ocean outside of the train window
The ocean outside of the train window

The ocean outside of the train window
For quite some time the train follows the shore line

The ocean outside of the train window

Lots of green and the ocean outside of the train window

Private Beach
This looks like a perfect place for a Guest House with a “private beach”

Train station in Vietnam
Train station in Quảng Ngãi. I am quite sure Ga comes from the French Gare

Fields somewhere in Vietnam
Fields outside of Quảng Ngãi

Graveyard somewhere in Vietnam
Graveyard outside of Quảng Ngãi

Train station somewhere in Vietnam
Train station in Bình Định, Vietnam

Tiger Beer in the train in Vietnam
They only had Tiger Beer on the train – strange! 20.000 Dong for a can – 0,80 € and ice-cold. The second night was not better than the first.

Train station in Saigon
After 30 hours on the train we reached the train station in Saigon

Taxi to ZU Coffee
I had a fresh Banh Mi and a coffee since it was very early. Than I walked to the main street to get a cab to my hotel

Zu Coffee

Coffee at  ZU Coffee
Coffee at ZU Coffee

Garden at ZU Coffee
Did stay at Zu Coffee for 8,50 € a night. A room with double bed, table, chair, closet, Wi-Fi and air-con. Shared bathroom with hot shower. Since I was the only guest it was more like a private bathroom. The place is a few kilometre from the centre in a quite site street. Their coffee is only open in the morning. Later they close the gate so you have the whole garden for yourself. Nice to chill a bit and read or do nothing.
The family was really nice and helpful – a great place to stay if you do not want to go down town every day.

Original US Fork
Original US Fork

Food at the place next door
About five minutes from the hotel you find a good food place. Go to the main street and turn right – keep walking for a minute. Everything on the pictures was 1,40 €

Food at the place next door
This is the sign outside the restaurant

Finally the bike arrives
On the 16th in the morning I got a call from the train station. My bike is in Saigon and I can pick it up between 14.00 and 17.00. Cool! That nice gentleman took it out of the box and did cut the cardboard for me. Still enough gas inside to get to the next gas station to fill up.

Food at the place next door
Went again for dinner to the place – this was 0,60€ and really good again!