Winter 17/18 From Sa Pa to Sìn Hồ⁩

Today was the second day on this trip on the Northern Loop with blue sky. I was hoping for the days with only blue sky for a few years – finally, I got at last one day of blue in the mountains. In the evening I was even happier since I do not want to drive the small road up to the DT 128 in the rain with my Yamaha Exciter 135. And let’s not talk about the slick on the back tire. Best of all – most of today’s drive was still without power lines. And I can not say that too often. Even in 1989 when I was here the first time there were power lines everywhere. So it was a special day all together.

Fansipan
Phan Xi Păng or Fansipan. 3,143 meters (10,312 ft), make it the highest mountain in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. His nickname is “the Roof of Indochina”. Now with a cable car and an exit to the Gift Shop!
Farm
A farm with a view!
Mountains and Farmland
Mountains and farmland
Waterfall
Blue sky and a waterfall
Mountains
This way we go
Mountain Road
The long and winding road
Mountain Road
Not really a lot of traffic
Unspoiled Mountains
For a change: Unspoiled mountains
Mountains
Steep roads and Zick Zack mountains
Mountains
Farmland eats it s way up
Fruit Stand
Nice selection

Lai Châu

Rice field
Rice fields and a village in the valley
Monument in Lai Châu
Lai Châu – Super wide roads and big buildings
Road in Lai Châu
Not to much traffic in Lai Châu
Mountain Town
Lai Châu from the top.

The Mountains without Power

Mountains in the Mist
Mountains in the mist
Green Hills
Green hills and rocks
Winding Road
Looks almost untouched AND no powerlines!
Rice Field
That did not last to long
Cement Hole
The power is on the way
Hills in Northern Vietnam
Unspoiled? Almost – but at last no power poles!
Mountains
Landscape like this or farming along the small road
Village
And from time to time small farm houses – without power
Water Buffalo
Water Buffaloes doing their water thing
Fields in the Hills
Farming takes over – starting here
Steep Road
Imagine this road in the Rainy Season
Farm Houses
They where the first with power
Last Tree
Last tree standing
Farmland
More and more farmland

Panoramic View from Left to Right

Farmland
The farmland eats the forrest again
Farmland
And more and more fires to burn the cut wood
Farmland
Kind of a shock after all that green hills a few clicks back
Farmland
Not to much forrest left
Mountains
A panoramic view over the mountains
Mountains
Roads & Fields
Mountains
If only the mist would clear
Mountains
My way out of the valley
My way out over the mountain into the next valley

Down into the next Valley

New Farm House
Looks like a new house
Valley
Could be a nice view – without the bare red earth
Concrete Road
Without a warning: Concrete road again. Not really wide but easy to drive.
Blasting Hours
That nice road turned a bit nasty after I saw this warning sign with the blasting hours. It was 14:39 when I took the picture.
Mountains

After a while I was back at the QL 12 and turned right to drive up North to meet with Mitsos in Sìn Hồ⁩.

Grave Yard
This grave yard is not to nice but they do take care of the lawn
Memorial Grave Yard
Memorial Grave Yard
Memorial Grave Yard

Sìn Hồ

Automotive Repair Shop
Got my chain thightened here. 3 generations of mechanics
Ducks on a bike
The Asians like their food fresh
Saigon Special
Not sure if that was a statement but there are not many places in Vietnam to be further away from Saigon. Well I liked it even more.
Vietnamese Restaurant
Had lunch and later dinner after Mitsos arrived at this nice place

The Phúc Thọ Hotel

Phuc Tho Hotel in Sìn Hồ
The Phuc Tho Hotel in Sìn Hồ. We had the room with the flag!
Hotel Room
The room was quite OK
Toilet
The toilet not so fancy but the hot water worked – great!
City view
The view from the balcony to the left. Sìn Hồ⁩ main square
Balcony View
View to the right
Bamboo Shoot
The first time I had Bamboo Shoot in Vietnam. If those are Bamboo Shoot.

Had to wait hours for Mitsos to turn up. Since he does not track where he drives we will never know. Only one thing is sure – he drove a very different road to get here.

Today’s drive:
I drove 151 kilometers in 6 hours, 11 minutes with gas and food stops.

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Winter 17/18 Tân Quang over Phố Ràng to Sa Pa

It rained the whole night and it rained the whole morning. I guess it is because the Greek comes from a county where it does not rain that much. He is not used to driving in the Vietnamese mountains where the roads are bad – even worse when wet. And he has no exexperience with the low clouds and fog in the mountains when it rains. I have plenty of it and decided to take the easy way in the valley. Stubborn as a mule Mitsos took to the mountains.

Motorbiker
The Greek is ready for the road. It rains and he thinks it is good to take the mountina road.
Wet Dirtroad
This is the highway – and it got worse.

Since it rained for most of the trip I have only a few pictures today. You see the road – you can imagine. One time there was a river on the road that was quite deep. Had to wait till I saw some locals pass to know how to cross. I was lucky and my bike made it safe to the other side. The Greek was not so lucky. He choose to try the left side. That was not a good idea. He got stuck and had to walk his bike out of it. The water was about 60 cm deep at this side. I wonder how it is in rainy season.

Fog in the Mountains
The fog lifts
Mountain Road
Only to make way for more rain
Clouds over Forrest
But the street stays below the clouds

Nhà nghỉ Hà Thần in Phố Ràng

Got into town a bit after 15:00. There are a lot of Guesthouses along the main road so it was not to easy to choose. Found this one and was quite happy. They send the little boy with me to show me the room. I liked it so the next step is to find out the price. Since he was only 10 or so I put some money on the floor but he did not like what I put. So he got some more out of my hand and put it on top. To much so I took some back. After a while, we settled for a price. We went back down again and I filled my information in the book. After that it was relaxing in the dry room and waiting for the Greek.

Hotel Room
Our room at the Nhà nghỉ Hà Thần
Hotel Room
Bathroom
The bathroom
Wet Greek
The Greek had to turn back after a while. The fog in the mountains was to thick. Wet but happy to find me in the nice room

It was not easy to find a restaurant in twon. If you go to small towns the restaurants close quite early or have a lot of meat and not enough greens. The only one we found that looked OK enough so the Greek would go in was this one. The little girl saw us and followed us into the place. She helped us translating with the owner and we talked till dinner was done.

Restaurant
My best friend in town

Today’s drive:
I drove 81 kilometers in 2 hours, 47 minutes.

Phố Ràng to Sa Pa

The next day the sky was gray but no rain. At last in the morning. That should change into the day but for now we where good to go.

Rice terraces
Rice terraces
Rice terraces
Rice terraces
House in North Vietnam
House along the road
Motorbike
Lots of mud on the roads for the rest of the day.
Pothole Galore
Village Street

Passed a lot of villages in the mountains and a lot of them have roads like this. Before and after the village it is quite ok but inside there is no tar or concrete. That makes for a lot of red dust when it is dry and sticky mud when it is wet. No clue why they not fix the road inside the village??

Road Sign
Looks like I have to find another way
Clear cut
Clear cut on its way
After the Clear Cut
Finished shavin the mountain
Factory
Really big factory in the middle of nowhere
Factory
Not really sure what they produce here
Wood Furniture
But they have mountains next to the road. And from all the mountain wood they make thin layers of inlay.
Train Bridge
Bikes to the left please
Interesting Building
Interesting Building
Modern Building
Quite modern buildings here in the mountains
Rice Terrace
This looks much better
Rice Terrace
But not if you look how the rest of the mountain looks

Hieu Dang Sapa Hotel

Sa Pa is so big now and has so many hotels and tourists – it is best to book ahead. This way you arrive and can take a shower. I opted for the Hieu Dang Sapa Hotel which is super close to the town center.

Hieu Dang Sapa Hotel
Our room at the Hieu Dang Sapa Hotel

But there are loads of other hotels in Sa Pa! Get a good rate on Booking.com or on agoda.com.

Bathroom Hieu Dang Sapa Hotel
The bathroom

The last time I was in Sa Pa is so long ago. I remembered nothing at all. Decided to stay in the room for most of the day. Far to many tourists out there and so much traffic. Only went for some food in the evening with Mitsos.

Vietnamese Restaurant
Mitsos found this place – the food was expensive but really good!
Vietnamese Food
Loads of greens, some tofu and rice and chilli – sweet!
Olives
10.000 VND are about 0.40 € or 0.45 US$
Olives
Not even 10€ – expensive for Euroe but here in Vietnam? A steal!
Olive Oil
Even the Olive Oil was not expensive. Guess they do not have them crazy taxes like Thailand for food imports.

Today’s drive:
We drove 129 kilometers in 4 hours, 16 minutes with gas and food stops.

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