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!

Support my blog -> Book your room here:

Booking.com

Winter 17/18 – A few Days in Phong Nha

After a few days at the beach it was time to move on and meet Trang in Phong Nha.

It is a quick ride up the mountain – only 42 kilometers but still, it took me an hour. I like to look what is happening along the road so I go quite slow. Booked a hotel for a few days since you never know how full it gets in the season up here.

Nhat Tan Hotel in Phong Nha

Nhat Tan Hotel
My room at the Nhat Tan Hotel

I booked a room at the Nhat Tan Hotel at the main drag in Phong Nha and only a few meters away from Trang’s bar.

Bathroom at the Nhat Tan Hotel
The Bathroom
Breakfast at the Nhat Tan Hotel
Breakfast at the Nhat Tan Hotel

That happens if you are tired and forget to tell them NO EGG!

The bike parking - Vietnam style inside the hotel
The bike parking – Vietnam style inside the hotel

Trangs Place

Nothing changed at the Spa apart from new staff. Some cosmetic changes at the bar and the rooftop was finished. The supermarket is open now.

Trang had the idea of getting more space for the bar to have one or two tables more. So she ordered a truckload of stones and sand. We filled the pond and I removed the last concrete bit of the old stairs to the first floor behind the house. Lots of work and sweat. But things looked much better behind the house with the stones.

Most of the stones
Most of the stones that went into the pond
More space for the restaurant - we filled the pond
More space for the restaurant – we filled the pond
Some of the stones went here
Some of the stones went here
And some went behind the house
And some went behind the house
Best shop keeper in the afternoon
Best shop keeper in the afternoon
Greens with Huda for lunch
Greens with Huda for lunch

At the little Bar on the Hill

A bit outside is a bar on a hill. Nice spot to see the sunset or for a drink in the afternoon. We where not so lucky today. Clouds moved in and that was it with the sunset.

Little restaurant on a hill outside of Phong Nha
Little restaurant on a hill outside of Phong Nha
The sun sinking into the mountains at Phong Nha
The sun sinking into the clouds at Phong Nha
Afternoon snack - Mango with Tiger Beer
Afternoon snack – Mango with Tiger Beer
Trang & George
Trang & George – note the sweater!

I only stayed a few days in town so there are not too many pictures.

Breakfast at the pool - Trang looks even smaller on this picture
Breakfast at the pool – Trang looks even smaller on this picture
George - after breakfast
George – after breakfast – very happy!
Greens with Huda for lunch - again
Greens with Huda for lunch – again
The village behind the rice fields
The village behind the rice fields
Cold noodles with greens
Cold noodles with greens

Support my blog -> Book your room here:
Booking.com

Winter 17/18 – Quite Days at the Beach in Đồng Hới

After Tet was over and Vietnam was “open for business” again it was time to pack the bag and move on towards Dong Hoi! My trusted bike was parked for the year in Ninh Binh and Viet was so kind as to move her from time to time.

Put the big orange bag on my Yamaha Exciter 135 and rode to the next gas station. Fill her up and down South it was towards the blue sky and more sunshine.

There is not really a nice road and I only wanted to get to Dong Hoi fast. Last time I drove the 410 km in one day but that is kind of a lot in Vietnam. Especially on the A1 with all the trucks and fast buses.

This time I only went half way down to Vinh and stayed there for one night.

My bike has now 26932 km on the clock
My bike has now 26932 km on the clock
The Yamaha Exciter 135
The Yamaha Exciter 135

The bag looks big but inside is my brown bag. The same small bag I use all the time. The orange bag served me quite well last year. Keeps the rain and dust away from the actual bag and you see the big orange square much better. A kind of safety feature if you will.

This year I shipped all. A new helmet, a mask to keep pollution at bay, rain trousers and waterproof boot covers
This year I got it all. A new helmet, a mask to keep pollution at bay, rain trousers and waterproof boot covers

A night in Vinh

Since I took the scenic route another time (on the way up North) and wanted to go down South fast it was the QL 1A again. It is terrible to drive and I only recommend it if you really have to go fast. Other than that – stick to the smaller roads and enjoy the ride!

From my friends place in Ninh Binh to the hotel in Vinh it was 213 km. Took me 4 hours and 52 minutes with food and gasoline stops

Thanh Dat 2 Hotel
My room at the Thanh Dat 2 Hotel

Took a room at the Thanh Dat 2 Hotel for 7 US$. You get A nice clean room, 2 chairs and a table, Aircondition and a TV as well as a private bathroom with hot shower and toilet. The hotel has his own parking and a coffee as well. Great for a night or a few nights. If you are lazy they also have an elevator!

The Bathroom
The Bathroom

At the Beach in Dong Hoi

The next morning I continued down south. If you go easy it is almost a day with breaks and lunch. It took me a bit over 4 hours for the 208 km from the hotel to the next hotel. Arrived in the late afternoon at Ocean View Homestay.  My favorite place along the coast of Vietnam. It is so quiet over there so I can sleep without earplugs. They have a small garden to hang out and you only cross the road and walk in less than 5 minutes from your room to the beach.

A big nice room - the bed is 5US$ a night
The dormitory at Ocean View Homestay! A big nice room – the bed is 5US$ a night

 

Dorm at the Ocean View Homestay
I took the one on the lower left

 

Part of the garden
The garden

 

Restaurant at Ocean View Homestay
The restaurant at Ocean View Homestay

Most of the day I spend at the terrace and worked on the computer. The staff was so kind and made some nice food every day.

Happy Hour at Beachside Backpackers

Not too far down the beach is the Beachside Backpackers. They had Happy Hour from 17:00 – 19:00 and this is where I went every day. The dog was happy to tag along but usually 30 minutes or so after we arrived it was too boring for him to wait for me and he went home again.

My partner in crime - we went to the happy hour every day
My partner in crime – we went to the happy hour every day
At the beachside backpackers - Jo and her boyfriend
At the beachside backpackers – Jo and her boyfriend
Fried Tofu with Lemongrass, Rice and a Pumpkin dipping
Fried Tofu with Lemongrass, Rice and a Pumpkin dipping

Quite Days – Happy Evenings in Dong Hoi

My two other playmates at Ocean View
My two other playmates at Ocean View
Waiting for the evening
Waiting for the evening
Cats - everywhere Cats
Cats – everywhere Cats
Not a happy dog!
Not a happy dog – but loads of other happy animals moved next to him
More dogs to play with on the way
More dogs to play with on the way
He looks happy
He looks happy
Every day you meet new people at the Beachside Backpacker Bar
Every day you meet new people at the Beachside Backpacker Bar
The staff cocked nice Vietnames food for me every day
The staff at Ocean View cocked nice Vietnamese food for me every day
On the way to the bar - Happy Hour is aproaching
On the way to the bar – Happy Hour is aproaching
The evening flight to Saigon
The evening flight to Saigon
He loved that plastic flower
He loved that plastic flower
Very relaxing - you only hear waves and can sip on a beer. What else do we need?
Very relaxing – you only hear waves and can sip on a beer. What else do we need?
Onion rings with Beer
Onion rings with Beer
More food at Ocean View
More food at Ocean View
Until the cows come home
Until the cows come home
The morning flight
The morning flight
He gets lots of visitors, csrbs and other dogs
He gets lots of visitors, mostly crabs and other dogs
Calm waters
Calm waters
Happy hunter
Happy hunter
There is not to much going on at the beach
There is not to much going on at the beach
Today some fries with my beer
Today some fries with my beer
Lunch at Ocean View
Lunch at Ocean View

Time to move on – further down South to meet other friends. Thank you Trang for making this another special time at your place at the beach!!

Do you want to stay up to date and not miss a post? Subscribe to the blog on the top right or all the way down on this page!

Booking.com