Winter 17/18 – From Thái Nguyên to Pom Coong

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

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
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 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
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
I got some cake as well. It was good!!
Sunset and Hanoi Beer
Beer o’ clock!!
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
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.

Support my blog!
Book your room here please. No difference for you but I get a little bit of Coffee money 🙂 Thank you!

Winter 17/18 – From Phía Tháp to Thái Nguyên

Time to move down South again. Packed the bike and said Adios to the Kim family. I had a super time here in the North and the dinner was excellent – every time! Thank you!!
Today I wanted to see the Mountain with the Hole that is not too far from Kim’s Homestay. When I was close I could not find it and gave up – and I was so close. Stupid me but I also hat many kilometers to go.
I detoured a second time to go to Tân Lập since I was almost out of petrol and there was no gas station the last few hours. It is always a lot of fun – you see that you are getting really low – in this case, the needle was in the red for a few minutes already. I stopped and consulted the map. There is a small hamlet up the hill that looks big enough for a gas station. And sure enough, they had one. So I had a beer and some snaks as well. Anyhow got into Thái Nguyên late and was happy to take a hot shower.

Vietnamese Graveyard
Still some festivities at the graveyard
Fields and Karst Mountains
Fields and Karst mountains
Corn Field and Karst Mountain
Corn fields
Green Karst Mountains
These Karst mountains might stay green since you can not farm there
Farm house in the mountains
What a nice spot for a farm house
Green mountains
Still some green mountains
Fields and Mountains
But you can see how agriculture takes over more and more.
Mountains and Farm Land
More cuts in the mountains
Farm in the Valley
Some farmers houses in the valley
Fresh planted fruit trees
Coming round the next bend and you see this for an hour or so. Makes you really sad
The only good thing about it is that they will be green in the future if you look at this hills
Burnt Land
More forrest gone
Clear cut forrest
And more and more and more…
Mountains and more mountains
Local House
Another old school local house
Small village in a valley
Small village in a valley
Mountains at sunset
The gate to paradiese
Small road
Small road in the valley
Sunset in the mountains
Sunset in the mountains

Today’s drive:
I drove 275 kilometers in 9 hours and 4 minutes with gas and food stops.

Support my blog!
Book your room here please. No difference for you but I get a little bit of Coffee money 🙂 Thank you!

Winter 17/18 – Double Chinese Border Circle

Not to much time left before I have to fly home again. It is the same every time. My longest trip was 365 days with when I had a Round the World Ticket. Good times in 1990/91. The longest I go for many years now on one trip is 5 months in winter. Starts out super with endless time but a few days after you left home you realize you only have two weeks left. Where is the rest gone? So you better make the best out of it. Specially if you have a nice day and a bike.
The forecast calls for blue sky and a few clouds. Looks like another nice day for the road. Today I want to explore the roads near the Chinese border and see Ban Gioc Waterfall or is it Waterfalls?

Corn field and mountains
It looks like it will be a nice day again.
Karst mountains behind fields in Vietnam
I love those mountains
3 Water wheels in Vietnam
These water wheels are used to get the water from one level to another

I love those wheels. They are so simple but do work so efficient. 24 hours and 365 days without electric power.

Corn fields with Karst mountains in the bag
Corn and Karst

It is the beginning of the season so most fields are full of fresh green

Small graveyard
Small graveyard on the right. Yesterday was a special day and everybody was at the graveyard. All the graves are decorated with flags.
Sediment explanation
Geopark route

Ancient Continent

That is what we can see here! Let me explain. This one is in the Minh Long commune in the Ha Lang district. On top, you see sedimentary rocks consisting of slightly brown colored conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone, and shale. They are about 400 million years old.
The bottom layer is only 15 – 20 cm thick and made from rounded gravels and grits, and mostly quartz and sandstone.
Below that boundary is the thinly-bedded schist which is early Cambrian and about 500 million years old. Between these rocks is a long disruption – that is why it is called an unconformity boundary.

It is believed that this was once part of the ancient Gondwana super-continent. Once the whole area was uplifted and where it was deep sea before it became land. The marine deposition was interrupted and the sediments changed.

This lasted for about 120 million years before the sea came back again to burry the unconfomaty boundary.

This is the short for of what you can see above.

The sediments – can you see it?
Stream in a valley
This stream comes from China. The road on the left ends 100 metres bevor the border. There are some concrete blocks to stop bigger trucks from going further. I turned around cause I was not sure where the border is. Do not want to get into this kind of trouble.
Water Buffaloes
Water Buffaloes on the way to their grazing ground
1959 War Monument
1959 War Monument
Stream in the valley
Behind it the valley openes – the water looks nice for a swim
Dead Pig
But after closer inspection I decided against it!
Karst Mountains
More farmland and mountains
Farmland and Karst Mountains
The farmers plant all sort of vegetables but no rice up here
Buffaloes on a street
More buffaloes
A floating sand digger
A floating sand digger

It looks nice and quiet but if you are on the road towards the chinese border you have a lot of truck traffic. Uphill or downhill they are slow but quite fast on the flat aprts of the road.

Truck and bridge
All people study and follow the ideology and morality, Ho Chi Minh’s style! There is propaganda all over the place. The truck drives towards the Chinese border
Local girl
A happy local girl. Not to much in the house. But Uncle Ho and all the family that was in the military on the wall.
Village road
Well look at the rest of the village
Nice hanging bridge
Corn field in front of a Karst hill
Corn field in front of a Karst hill
Horses in a field
That looks like rice fields but who knows?
Farmland and a wodden water pump
Another water wheel
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall – China on the right of the river
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Not that many tourists here. Guess it is to far from everything
Floating Bridge
China on the other side.

Not sure if they move the goods legally over these bridge. Saw plenty of them and some places where they had boats and shipped people to the other side. But that was a bit further in the mountains on a smaller road. And I would pass most of the ferry places if not for the parked bikes and cars in the middle of nowhere. Who knows what they do on the other side?

Vietnamese border marker
Vietnamese border marker

For a while, there is also a road on the Chinese side of the river. Nice cars and busses drive there and it is flat and smooth. Thanks to all the trucks on the Vietnamese side it is pothole hell and super dusty.

The Chinese border
Here you still have green hills
Karst Mountain
Down towards the chinese border at Daxin Xian
Karst formation
Nice formation
The gate of Ly Van Ly
The gate of Ly Van Ly: The border crossing to China. Construction in Daxin Xian. Looks like I was lucky and had less truck traffic.
Lavender fields
Lavender fields at the Chinese side
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall when everybody left
Horse on a street
Guess this is one of the tourist horses. It find its way home in the evening
3 Karst mountains witht eh sun behind
Sun set at the guesthouse
Vietnamese Food
Another one of those good dinners at the homestay

I drove back to Kim’s Homestay to get another excellent dinner with beer and happy water!

Today’s drive:
I drove 185 kilometers in 8 hours, 18 minutes with gas and food stops.