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Old 09-29-2012, 06:04 PM   #16
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Old 10-05-2012, 04:24 PM   #17
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Love the ride report

I'm in the early stages of planning a similar trip and just posted a thread in the Trip planning forum...

...looking for advice.

Your RR makes me think maybe I'm not totally crazy for considering this adventure and riding solo.

Thanks for sharing and helping to blaze the trail for neophytes such as myself
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:06 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Hominid View Post

...looking for advice.
Feel free to ask me any questions, I'll do my best to help out.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:16 PM   #19
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My god, that country is beautiful.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:47 PM   #20
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Wink Day 9

Day 9 - Hue to Hoi An - Riding the cliffs

Just out of Hue, Vietnam

The lads at the local Yamaha garage changed my bike’s oil for free, which was a good start. 
From Hue I boosted to Da Nang on a great coastal road, which wrapped itself around steep cliffs, with hundreds of varied turns, which was fun. You can kind of pick out the road here -

Coastal road near Da Nang, Vietnam

At the top of a tall cliff I stopped at the ruins of an old American fort. There were plenty of tourists but they scarpered in and out of their tour buses fairly quickly. I met a tiny lady who tried to marry me to her daughter, which was not fun.

Coastal town near Da Nang, Vietnam

On other side of Danang I spotted a huge white figure on a cliff so I headed over there.

Towards the coastal monastery, Vietnam

At the base of the giant I found a big monastery with serene gardens and monks chanting. Chilled.

View from the monastery, Vietnam

Big statue in the monastery, Vietnam

Another view from the monastery, Vietnam

The clouds on the mountain top make this photo for me -

Monastery gardens, Vietnam

I arrived in Hoi An by late afternoon, the first thing I noticed were the foreigners, I hadn't seen this many Western faces since Hanoi. The sight of their fat obligatorily enormous DSLRs aimed at the disheveled locals was enough to make me want to leave. I soon found a decent cheap hotel just by cruising around the tight busy streets. I met a few nice travelers, most memorably a lovely Australian chap called Kim who had traveled a lot in his retirement. Just by observing he had learned a lot about how the Vietnamese live and work, from building concrete boats (something I had already seen in China) to fixing motorbikes. His advice and knowledge was much appreciated.

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Old 10-05-2012, 07:56 PM   #21
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Very cool ride report. I can vouch from my recent trip to the Philippines that it is the people you remember long after the scenery fades to a hazy memory.
I don't say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could. - Orson Welles
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:25 AM   #22
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Cool2 Day 10`

Day 10 - Hoi An to MySon and back - Cultural diversion

Road to MySon, Vietnam

I rode out to the My Son ruins through flat rice paddy meadows and over lazy streams. Arriving at 10 there were already many tourists who had arrived on the coaches that had been trying to kill me for the last two weeks, so I had to wait a while for a guide.

By this time it was blowing my mind that people were sitting on coaches and being shipped about behind tinted glass from Attraction A to Attraction B.

Poor bugger was frozen to the side of the water I bought, had to peel him off and bin him when some kid started screaming -
Poor little frozen lizard

A lovely young lady called Ms. Yung took me around the ruins. I felt wrong for doing such a touristy thing but I had never seen Hindu sites modern or ancient, and the experience was interesting. I had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Yung a while about her education, growing up in the country and moving to Saigon to go to college, before settling in Hoi An to work at the ruins, a very interesting person. I found that many of the girls who worked in tourism had been to Saigon for a degree in language and tourism before returning to their hometown. I wondered if they had a choice.

Overgrown temples, Myson ruins,, Vietnam

Courtyard clearing, MySon ruins, Vietnam

Pillar detail, Myson ruins, Vietnam

Fallen pillars, MySon ruins, Vietnam

Once back near my hotel I arranged for a guide to accompany me to my next major destination, Kon Tum, for two days. I had heard there were some beautiful secret waterfalls in the valleys ahead but needed some local knowledge to find them. By the evening I was looking forward to being in the middle of nowhere again.

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Old 10-06-2012, 09:47 AM   #23
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Massively enjoying this read,
you can take it to 100 pages for me!

Good luck
20 years of VFR thrashing - if it don't break,it don't need fixing!
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:01 PM   #24
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Laugh Day 11

Day 11 - Hoi An to Kham Duc - Venison's dear isn't it

Mr Binh, motorbike guide extraodinaire

I rode out of Hoi An with war veteran guide Mr. Binh, we soon stopped at his sister in laws for some much appreciated water. Binh is an older chap and the riding was slow going, I saw him narrowly miss a few nasty scrapes and wondered if I had made a mistake crippling myself with the old boy.

Drying tobacco in the village, Vietnam

Near some drying tobacco plants, we stopped to talk to another of Binh's relatives, a 17 year old girl trying to learn English, something she believes will allow her to work in tourism and therefore provide better for her family. Our staggered conversation drew the attention of the cutest gang of troublesome stick wielding kids, laughing and screaming at my presence and alien language. Their eager dog friend demanded to be part of everything they did, including running off when I got the camera out.

Local gang, a bit shy, Vietnam

Mid morning we stopped and ate fresh pineapple picked from the mountain earlier that day.

Pineapple harvest in the mountains, Vietnam

Soon after that we rode off the road up a bumpy jungle trail to find a quiet valley with a waterfall. I made plenty of audio recordings climbing around on the rocks for different perspectives, I've already used the recordings in several video game projects! For lunch we stopped for a meal of mountain deer meat and chilies, which was great.

Spicy lunchin a mountain lodge, Vietnam

I then washed the bike for the first time using water piped from a nearby waterfall. Not fifteen minutes down the road we were soaked in a torrential downpour, which would have done the job just as well.

 That night we stayed in Kham Duc at the Kham Duc Hotel, which was expanding from little more than a hostel to a mini village in order to house the foreign workers employed at the local gold mines. So I got my own beautiful little bungalow in the middle of a muddy building site. That night dinner was at a local restaurant where, strangely, Binh was the only Vietnamese customer, the others being Australians working at the mines. Binh explained that many Vietnamese had died, and many still do, mining for gold on the mountains around Kham Duc, without the expertise of a professional setup. On a lighter note, I didn't see an ugly girl in Kham Duc, they were all either quite or very attractive, which was nice.

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Old 10-07-2012, 01:32 PM   #25
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Talking Day 12

Day 12 - Kham Duc to Kon Tum - Bye bye Toto

Someone was blasting 'Enter Sandman' by Metallica from their hotel room as we left, somehow out of place reverberating down the shabby muddy streets of a small Vietnamese mountain town.

Valley near Kham Duc, Vietnam

The riding was through beautiful lush green valleys, despite the overcast weather my spirits were very high! Mid morning we stopped at more waterfalls and crossed squealing rickety bridges.

Kalimah bridge minor, Vietnam

Little waterfall near KhamDuc, Vietnam

Kalimah bridge major, Vietnam

On returning to the bikes a group of young local men had taken a keen but entirely reverential interest in my vehicle. On the ground next to them was a bag. A mysteriously twitching bag.

Doggy dinner, Vietnam

On seeing the two little paws sticking out the near side, I realized it was a small dog. I then spotted a bowl of herbs, a cruel looking blade, and a rusty old cooking pot. On sensing my will that these objects had nothing to do with the contents of the bag, one of the locals pointed to the dog and then into the pot. I walked around see the dog was having some kind of fear fit, upon asking I was assured that it was healthy. Just frothing and hyperventilating with terror then. As we saddled up the dog was hoisted away into the jungle to become lunch.

Traditional communal village hall, Vietnam

By mid afternoon everything was getting very hot, dry and dusty. We stopped at one of the traditional tall communal houses that the local tribes use for meetings, where I spotted a chained up pet monkey playing with a boy, gnawing the kids knuckles.

Pet monkey, likes to chew his owner... in Vietnam

Getting dryyy...

Dry hills, Vietnam

We stopped near this hill, where Binh said he was involved in a battle with the Viet Cong. He fought on the side of the Americans, firing his AK47 into the Jungle. He is not sure if he killed anyone, he had friends that were shot or otherwise injured and died. I could see that although he was not emotional, he just didn't want to be probed about it much.

Battle mountain, Vietnam

We stayed in a decent hotel in Kon Tum. In the eve we went for a Viet-Valhallian cook it yourself BBQ feast of deer, jungle pig, rice, popadom and some pigeon/random bird soup.

Binh mans the BBQ in Kon Tom, Vietnam

Binh told me of his previous jobs, he had worked at the Hoi An docks loading cargo ships by hand when the war entered his life and he was given a gun to go fight for the Americans. I didn't ask too much about the war, as I previously mentioned Binh would close up quick, but after it was over Binh had simply returned to the docks. When it came to farewell I tipped Binh the equivalent of 15 dollars, with tears in his eyes he sincerely (but incorrectly) said 'you are very kind' in his croaky old way.* It cut me like a knife that the old boy would be saying such a thing in that way to a lucky young git from another world, just passing though.

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Old 10-07-2012, 01:33 PM   #26
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Tourer, commuter, adventure rider dreamer. Here for the pics and stories!
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:57 PM   #27
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Laugh Day 13

Day 13 - Kon Tum to Buon Ma Thuot - Burn my throat

On my lonesome again I forced myself back into early starts. After an hour, just south of Pleiko, I stopped for another coffee good enough to warrant the destruction of multiple planets in celebration of its wonder, and a pack of biscuits. Witness the awesomeness-

Awesome Vietnamese coffee

Today I became obsessed with these strange abused tractor husks, there were so many in different colours, shapes, and sizes, that I began to take way too many photos of what is, essentially, fairly boring junk. Here are some studs showing off to the local ladies on theirs -

Vietnamese rude boyz

The drivers of these junktors are even more careless and nihilistic than your average Vietnamese road user, swinging huge loads into the road without a glance either way, driving at a snails pace dead centre of the road and generally being dangerous dicks. When I spotted a scene where one had t-boned a scooter, leaving a crying man sprawled in the dirt clutching a rather broken looking lower appendage, I rode over for a photo of the offending junktor, but the policeman saw me and shouted 'No photo!'

In fact everything was starting to look a bit Mad Max -
Shack town, central Vietnam

Happy working couple and their sweet ride, Vietnam

After many dusty towns, I stopped in a forest for a break under a low tarpaulin, where I had some surprisingly tasty boiled corn. From another tent across the road ran a very kind lady to give me a free slice of fresh melon and stare at me. Lovely.

Lunch spot on the road to Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam

Simple lunch, Vietnam

Three hours later, sweaty as an impassioned badger and covered in dirt, I crawled into a hotel in Buon Ma Thuot, where a stunned receptionist expressed her amazement at my voyage and amusement at my bedraggled form.

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Old 10-28-2012, 05:01 PM   #28
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Laugh Day 14

Day 14 - Buon Ma Thuot to Dalat - Run to the hills

Plains near BMT, Vietnam

Another early start, this time for Dalat, had the stunning receptionist from yesterday express how happy she was to meet me and how sad she was I was leaving, if only I could break hearts so easily in Shanghai...

My favourite from Vietnam, the road to Dalat

Farmland on the way to Dalat, Vietnam

In the hills near Dalat, Vietnam

I rode through rolling hills, wild west-alike towns and expanses of flat seemingly isolated rice fields, stopping for a cool drink with a very accommodating family around noon. Two ladies and one teenage boy were chopping wood whilst the young kids rested and played in the heat.

Kids resting in their roadside home, Vietnam

Not many posers in Vietnam

The scenery seemed to change with every new valley.

Lake in the mountains, near Dalat, Vietnam

Climbing to the clouds, Vietnam

On an awful potholed, steep, rocky, unforgivingly bumpy road just south of Krong No I saw a thick dark snake cross in front of me, nearly spanning the width of the road. Things were starting to get very hot and with the roads being ridiculously hard work I was getting rather warm and dehydrated.

Apparently a brand new highway, Vietnam

My next drink stop in a wooden shack high on a hillside saw me make more new friends, young farmers with some intriguing tattoos, mainly concerning mermaids... I barely had time to cool off before we were downing rice wine and eating spicy lemon chicken together.

Another drinking buddy, Vietnam

I had to escape further wine and gambling on games of pool before I was too wasted to ride. Even more dehydrated and half cut I coasted down the mountain to a town apparently fashioned entirely from awkward low walls and sheets of junky scrap metal. I popped into a shop to grab some water, on leaving the shop I saw 8 small faces staring at me over a wall behind which was my bike. I let a few of them have a sit on the bike.

Local lads, Vietnam

The traffic up to Dalat was frustratingly dangerous, mainly thanks to the genocidal drivers of tour vans and enormous coaches. I stopped in the centre of town and took in the sights of chubby sun burned tourists ambling around overcrowded streets. I ate a western style beef burger then grabbed a room at the fairly priced Long Vuong hotel. That evening I went to a massage parlor, where I also got to float about in a Jacuzzi and sweat the filth out in a Steam Room, a highly recommended way to end a days riding in Vietnam.

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Old 10-28-2012, 05:23 PM   #29
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Day 15

Day 15 - Dalat to Phan Thiet - King of the Mountain

Cool mid morning riding, Vietnam

I had a late start after chatting to a lovely bloke called Simon from England over breakfast. After getting thoroughly drenched in a torrential downpour leaving Dalat I found a fantastic route to Phan Thiet. Miles and miles of quiet, winding, narrow roads of fair quality through dense jungle and isolated settlements.

Heading down the mountain, Vietnam

The weather was great, with a cool breeze and no rain. Not even the heat and traffic of the coastal area I had to get through in the late afternoon could ruin it. Challenging, rewarding, this was to be my favorite riding of the entire adventure. It felt like the valleys were untouched.

Lovely bends, Vietnam

I found an isolated village at the top of the highest peak and had a Coke. Shy locals peered from their work binding stick bundles to see the alien and his craft.

More lovely bends, Vietnam

The road twisted down for a long time before suddenly I burst out of the jungle into fantastically smooth corners on wide roads in golden forests. Soon I was on flat plains and rice fields, the spread out towns adding to the sense of space I felt after the claustrophobic jungle.

Dude near Phan Thiet, Vietnam

It didn't matter what day it was or I where I happened to be, every day I saw big gangs of kids cycling home after school, quite cute really.

Cycling kids, everywhere in Vietnam

Some of the boats in the harbor of Phan Thiet were less sea worthy than others.

Boats in Pham Thiet harbour, Vietnam

As with all cities in Vietnam, Phan Thiet was a nightmare to ride through, particularly in fading light. I ended up going too far, all the way to the harbor. A Policeman eagerly helped get me on the road to Mui Ne. I rode into town in darkness, but soon found the recommendable Dragonfly guesthouse. There were lots of tourists around.

Cream-crackered, I went next door for a fresh seafood BBQ fit for Thor himself. A live acoustic band played whatever that genre is that gets played for tourists worldwide. After just two beers I was ready for a walk on the beach and then bed.

 The next day I did very little, just walked on the gorgeous beach and checked the bike over.

Mui Ne beach, Vietnam

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Old 10-28-2012, 05:42 PM   #30
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Great story and photos, I hope to go there one day!
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