Winter 17/18 from Ba Bể to Bảo Lạc

After a few days at the lake, it was time to ride further North. Mitsos had not a lot of time so we continued our loop of North Vietnam

View from the DT 2578
Very nice view over the valley this morning
View from the DT 2578
View from the DT 2578
Village in the valley
Village in the valley
Rice fields on one sideof the mountain
Rice fields on one side – more farming on the other
Traffic on the DT 212
Traffic on the DT 212
Looking over the mountains on the QL 34
Looking over the mountains on the QL 34
Same picture - zoomed out
Same picture – zoomed out

The Ho Chi Minh Monument

Another big monument
Another big monument. Ho Chi Minh in Cao Bang
Mitsos so happy
Mitsos so happy
Farmer dry product
At last that space is good for something
Ho Chi Minh
Everywhere you want to take a picture they put some power lines
Monument
It is a bit confusing! You have a soldier with the communist flag on top. A colonialist on the lower left. Townsfolk that is discussing and I guess Uncle Ho preparing for takeover.
Next part of the monument
Now we have construction machines and a factory where he workers are happy with a machine. No need for horses anymore!
Next part of the monument
Now Uncle Ho comes into town and waves
Last part of the monument
More construction with old machines. And in the end of the monument the future arrives. Computer!
End of monument
This makes everybody happy. Everything is full of buildings. Only a few trees left but lots of smoke in the air. Now a worker waves his hand in the air.
A mine behind the monument
A mine behind the monument in the valley. Might be that the whole monument is for the mine in the back
A new dam
A new dam from the QL 4B
Lots of rice farming
Lots of rice farming
Forrest Protection
Forest Protection? What forest??
No forest left
No forest left
Farmland
Farmland
More farming
More farming
They still built in the traditional style
They still built in the traditional style
Water wheels in Bao Lac
Water wheels in Bao Lac
At the bike shop
Went because the rack was loose again. Got a new chain and sprockets as well
The Bike Shop
The nice thing in Vietnam is that you will be served immediately
Old Style Pepsi
Old Style Pepsi – would not drink it but like the design
RedBull & Rad Bhin
RedBull & Rad Bhin

Today’s drive:
We drove 176 kilometres in 7 hours, 17 minutes with gas and food stops.

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Mini Review of Bangkok Bus Lines from Chiang Mai to Bangkok

Mini-review of Bangkok Bus Lines from Chiang Mai to Bangkok Mo Chit 2 or Bangkok Northeastern Bus Terminal

I booked this trip online for 759 Bath at the end of February 2016. The ticket includes a voucher for food at the stop about halfway of the trip.
You find a few pictures of the food below. The bus leaves Chiang Mai at 20:30 and was in Bangkok at 6 in the morning.
Most passengers got off at the Bangkok Bus Lines office but the bus continues to Mo Chit since that is what you paid for! They might tell you that it does not so you have to insist on it. They will drop you there.

How to get a Ticket for Bangkok Bus Lines

Bangkok Bus Lines have a counter at the bus station in Chiang Mai if you want to get your ticket there. You can come to the station a few hours before to get it. This usually works off-season but if you want to travel in high season you better get a ticket in advance.
I usually book with 12go.asia: From Chiang Mai Bus Terminal to Bangkok Mo Chit Bus Terminal
(Affiliate link that does not cost you more but might get me a beer eventually!)
The same goes for the bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. You can get a ticket at Mo Chit Bus Terminal. Sometimes it is also called Northern Bus station or Chatuchak Bus station or Terminal. Quite confusing but all the same.

The Bangkok Bus Lines Bus

Bangkok Bus Lines
This is a 32 seat bus with a 1 – 2 configuration. 1 seat on one side of the bus and a double seat on the other. Since there are only 3 seats in a row you have more space. The seats are wider and there are fewer seats in the bus. If you want to sit together with your friend or sit alone you better book online a few days before. This way you can choose your seat.
The toilet is in the back of the bus. So you want to sit in the front or middle of the bus. The toilet door makes some noise. And it might smell from time to time. But this is the same as all the busses that come with a toilet in Asia.

Bangkok Bus Lines seat
The seats do recline quite a bit and have a nice footrest. The footrest is only useful when you are not too tall. If you over 190 cm you might look for a 24 seat VIP bus to use the footrest. I am 203 cm and had no problem in this bus apart from the footrest that I can not use.
You get a blanket and a travel pillow that goes around your neck. Never had one of those on a bus. They are better than a pillow alone but I am not sure if they wash them all the time so I did not use it. But you could use your T-Shirt or towel if you want to use them.

Entertainment System

Bangkok Bus Lines entertainment system
Great entertainment system. You can even charge your USB device. Lots of movies to choose from. Even a few in English. The headphone is from the bus as well but you can use your personal one if you like.

Free Snacks

Bangkok Bus Lines stewardess
The stewardess – she hands out the snacks

Bangkok Bus Lines food
You get a small bottle of water and this box – I only eat the chips. The rest I gave to a homeless guy that sleept close to my hotel on the streets in Bangkok after we arrived. He looked happy.

Bangkok Bus Lines
Then you get tea and soy milk and another strange Euro Cake thing that went to the guy on the streets of Bangkok as well

Free Midnight Dinner

Bangkok Bus Lines snack stop
Since that is a VIP bus you can eat in the VIP dining area of the food stop midway to Bangkok or Chiang Mai if you go the other direction. That means more options and buffet – you can eat as much as you like. Usually, the vast majority of the buses stop at a rest stop where you have a very limited option of meals. In any case, keep your ticket – it has the voucher for the food on it.

Bangkok Bus Lines
There was even some for me – vegetarian food that is!

Here are the buses 12go sells online. Be aware that there are other bus companies as well that do not sell online tickets. If you need to go to Bangkok from Chiang Mai or Chiang Mai from Bangkok you will find a bus easy if it is not high season. It might not be a VIP bus but you should get to Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

Bus Chiang Mai - Bangkok $ 16.80–27.91 10h – 10h 55m
  •   Express 08:30, 10:00, 18:35, 20:00
  •   VIP27 20:30, 21:50
  •   VIP31 19:45, 21:00
  •   VIP 19:15, 19:30, 20:00
  •   VIP24 20:00
  •   Express 06:00, 06:30, 09:15, 16:00, 18:50, 19:00, 20:35, 21:00
  •   VIP31 19:00, 21:10
  •   VIP20 21:19
  •   VIP 15:00, 16:00, 20:02, 20:15, 20:20, 20:40
  •   VIP24 20:00, 20:20, 20:30

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Winter 17/18 From Lạng Sơn⁩ over ‎⁨Huyện Quảng Uyên⁩ to Ba Bể Lake

Then next day of our tour in Northern Vietnam. It was gray but dry which is better than gray and wet. But does not make for nice pictures. We had coffee in the room and Mitsos had some breakfast. And on the bikes we where.

A cloudy and gray morning
A cloudy and gray morning
Small village over the rice fields
Small village over the rice fields
This must be super lovely with blue sky
This must be super lovely with blue sky
Great landscape to cross
Great landscape with small roads
Lots of green mountains left - view from the 34 a bit before Nguyen Binh
Lots of green mountains left – view from the 34 a bit before Nguyen Binh
Corn fields
Corn fields
Dreamland with some smoke
Dreamland with some smoke

The locals call this Dragon Back Panorama. It is part of the Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark.

Rice terraces before Xa Quang Thanh
Rice terraces before Xa Quang Thanh
An old french villa
An old french villa
The rice fields eating slowly into the forest
The rice fields eating slowly into the forest
Interesting mix of vegetation
Interesting mix of vegetation
Rice terraces
Lets see next time how much the rice terraces go up the mountain
Blue sky!!
Blue sky!!
Looking down the hill next to Mr. Buffalo
Looking down the hill next to Mr. Buffalo
Nice view for Mr. Buffalo if the sky is blue. But no shadow nowhere.
Nice view for Mr. Buffalo if the sky is blue. But no shadow nowhere.
On the DT 253 looking down into the valley
On the DT 253 looking down into the valley
The road winds down into the valley. You can see the rice in the back is waiting to get planted in the new field
The road winds down into the valley. You can see the rice in the back is waiting to get planted in the new field
Almost at the bottom of the valley - back to rice farming country
Almost at the bottom of the valley – back to rice farming country
Looking back up the mountain
Looking back up the mountain
Rice planting a bit before Ban Luoc
Rice planting a bit before Ban Luoc
You can see how nice it is planted - all by hand
You can see how nice it is planted – all by hand
All fresh - I like the green
All fresh – I like the green
Rural road in Vietnam
Shortcut to the DT 279
More planting action after Ban Hon
More planting action after Ban Hon
Rice field
Checking out the progress
Checking out the progress
And taking over to finish the field
And taking over to finish the field

Ba Bể Lake

The second day of riding proved to be much better. Most of the time we even had blue sky! Great landscape again with a few sad parts.

Finally Ba Be Lake
Finally Ba Be Lake
Just in time for the sunset
Just in time for the sunset
A fisherman doing his fisherman stuff
A fisherman doing his fisherman stuff

Day 3 of this Loop: 149 kilometers in 7 hours with gas and food stops

Day 4 of this Loop: 170 kilometers in 6 hours and 20 minutes with gas and food stops

My Hotel at Ba Be Lake: Quỳnh Mai Homestay

The Boss Lady is still cleaning the bathroom
The Boss Lady is still cleaning the bathroom
Evening view from my room
Evening view from my room
The view towards the right
The view towards the right

I like this place! Great view and the food is good. The room is one floor down from the main building and on the other side of the road. This way you do not hear any traffic. Birds and insects only. And I love the view too.

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