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Old 02-15-2012, 04:25 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Comrade Art View Post
Great pics! My co-worker and I are riding from Hanoi to HCMC next month, so it's nice to hear your story. Keep posting
I'm envious! Have you guys booked a hotel in Hanoi? If not, I loved the place I found. Room was clean, cheap, and the staff was unbelievable. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have had a bike to ride!
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:32 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by davidbrundage View Post
i was fortunate enough to travel around SE asia for 5 weeks a few years back and the trip was one of the highlights of my life. the people's hospitality and generosity are next-level, and i am thankfully reliving my fond memories through your trip.

keep up with the report. we all know it's hard work, but it is incredibly appreciated by both the vocal commenters and the silent observers.
I couldn't agree more with your comment about the hospitality of the people. I felt like I found a new friend around every turn.

Thanks for the kind words. These things are harder to put together than I thought they'd be. Knowing that people are enjoying them makes it all worthwhile.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:55 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Jedum1 View Post
I'm envious! Have you guys booked a hotel in Hanoi? If not, I loved the place I found. Room was clean, cheap, and the staff was unbelievable. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have had a bike to ride!
No, we haven't booked a hotel but give me the name of your place. I was planning to pick a hotel from the Lonely Planet guide somewhere in the mid range of $20-40.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:04 PM   #34
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No, we haven't booked a hotel but give me the name of your place. I was planning to pick a hotel from the Lonely Planet guide somewhere in the mid range of $20-40.
Here's the link to the booking site for the hotel, and to reviews on Tripadvisor. I paid $20 on the spot versus the $30 it was listed for online. The room was fine, nothing to scream about, but the staff was exceptional. I'm working on Day 4 of my RR. You can read examples of how they all went above and beyond the call of duty when I post it tomorrow. If you have any specific questions, message me and I'll do my best to answer them.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:02 PM   #35
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No, we haven't booked a hotel but give me the name of your place. I was planning to pick a hotel from the Lonely Planet guide somewhere in the mid range of $20-40.
I can highly recommend the Camellia 4 in the old quarter, $28/night includes a decent breakfast we stayed there for 4 nights on our visit in November.

A well run place, good rooms, nice staff and very affordable.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:16 PM   #36
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What great pictures!! Thank you for taking the time to posta report of your travels. My wife and I traveled in Vietnam last November for 3 weeks. Took and 11 day MC tour form Hanoi to Nha Trang.and went diving in Nha Trang. We are planning another trip back this coming December for a minimum of 3 weeks. The plan is to go north next time.

We fell in lobe with the country side there, such nice people , beautiful scenery, can't wait to go back.

And your ride report makes that even more so.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:51 PM   #37
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Looks Like a Great Time

Beautiful place and love those friendly smiling faces! Good ambassadors, looks like you are making people smile. Pave the road for the rest of us. Thanks.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:28 PM   #38
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Day 4

DAY 4

Woke up early and took the hotel’s shuttle to the airport. Hassle free, but with a rear seat lacking any real padding, it was anything but a comfortable ride. Having no time to recoup from the night before didn’t exactly help. When we arrived I paid the $15 and tip. I hadn’t eaten yet, and there was a small restaurant right next to the cab queue. I defiantly received “White man” pricing. I intentionally ordered the same items as the person before me, as I’d seen what he paid. A coffee, and baguette sandwich, set him back $60,000 Dong (just under $3 US) and received and he received a bit of change. Mysteriously my bill was exactly $100,000 Dong? Them’s the breaks. No point making a scene over a couple of bucks. I wouldn’t have known how to communicate it anyway.

Off to Hanoi.


Disembarking at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi.


Do you enjoy your personal space? Then you may want to walk from the plane to the terminal.


The airport runs pretty smoothly in Hanoi. Only took a few minutes to retrieve my bag. The shoulder strap had been torn free at the bottom, but I couldn’t really blame the baggage handlers. It was a North Face knock off I’d purchased in Thailand five years prior. I was surprised it had lasted this long. If I couldn’t fix it myself I was sure I could find something comparable in town.

I decided to save a few bucks and take a shuttle. This was a big mistake. After negotiating a price (I remember it being $5) I found that the Dutch couple behind me had paid less. I brought this up to the driver, and he assured me he would drop me off first. It seemed like paying the premium would be worth it because the little mini-van was packed. Off we went. Forty-five minutes later we made our first stop in town, and it wasn’t mine. Then another, and another, and another. A Vietnamese local exiting each time. WTF? I’d repeatedly asked why he had not dropped me off as he had promised, and each time I got the same reply. “Next. Next.” By the time we got to my hotel, only the Dutch couple remained. We’d made seven stops, many of which required u-turns, and stops for directions. It had taken almost two hours to get me to my hotel. An hour and fifteen minutes longer than if I would have simply coughed up the extra five bucks for a cab. Looking back, I may have been a bit of an ugly American at this point, but I wanted “my two dollars”. I only pulled my bag halfway out of the door, which kept him from shutting it completely. After a short argument he relented and handed me the $5 bill I had paid with. I tried to give him three singles, but he angrily refused, slammed the door, and sped away. It’s a fine line between not being taken advantage of, and being a dick. I fear I pushed a bit too far past that line.

I had only booked hotel rooms for the first night in Hoi An, and my last two nights in Hanoi. I didn’t want to be anchored down to an itinerary that was dictated by the location of my hotel. Better to be loose and find places on the fly. This tends to be cheaper anyway. It has its drawbacks of course. In a busy location it can take some time to find a place, and if you’ve just come off a long flight can truly be a chore. I checked to see if the hotel I booked at the end of my trip had vacancies online the night before, and they had three open rooms. Apparently a lot of business takes place between 11:30pm and 10:00am, because the rooms had been booked. This sucked. I was in a sour mood from the mini-van incident and my body was about to give out on me. The last thing I wanted to do in that moment was roam the city looking for an open room. Fortunately I didn’t have to.

The girl at the front desk motioned for me to have a seat while she picked up the phone. Half way through the cup of tea they brought me, she announced that she’d found another place for me to stay. Once again my brain kicked into defensive mode. Was this all a scam? I’d heard of this one before. Book a room online, then show up only to find that the room isn’t available, and the only option is the presidential suite for $500 a day. “So how much?” Turns out the hotel they found (a sister hotel) was more expensive, but they were going to honor the $20. Once again, no angle. How jaded am I?

I finished my tea, and was whisked to the new hotel on the back of yet another scooter. When we arrived at the Luxury Hotel, all four employees were waiting at the door to greet me. Each of them smiling, and eager to welcome me to their hotel. The only male in the bunch grabbed my bag and set it down next to the reception desk, then rushed back to see if I would like a coffee. I accepted, and he rushed to the small open kitchen in the back. While I waited one of the girls asked if I would like to see the rooms that were available. The first one was fine. No need to see the others.

Simple, cheap and comfortable.


When we got back down my little buddy was waiting by my bag with coffee in hand. There was a bit of Vietnamese chatter and he was off to my room, bag in tow. I sat in reception, sipped my coffee, and had a wonderful time talking with the staff. Each of them had a pretty good grasp on English, which was nice after three days of charades. After we all got acquainted, I decided I should probably work at securing my bike.

I’d originally wanted to rent a Honda XR Enduro from Off Road Vietnam, but they didn’t have any available while I was in town. The next best thing they could offer up was a scooter. That simply didn’t appeal to me. So the only other option was the Minsk, and I’d found two local businesses that rented them on the Fromer’s website. They didn’t have websites; only phone numbers, so I figured I’d just have my hotel call when I got into town. After making the request, the girl at the front desk happily dialed them up. As luck would have it, the first number was disconnected, and the second; Mr. Hung’s Vietnam Adventure Tour, could only rent it to me for three days. I was crushed. My whole trip had officially unwound. How far out could I get in a day and half? What the hell would I do back in Hanoi for ten days? Luckily for me the staff at the Luxury Hotel made sure those questions never needed to be answered.

The second she saw the color drain from my face, she jumped right back on the phone. “We find you moto. No worry. Go to rest. We get you.” Less than an hour later there was a knock on my door, and very welcome news. They were able to find someone that had a Minsk they were willing to rent me. They were going to bring it over at 6pm so I could check it out, and see if I wanted it. And the cherry on top? The guy was only going to charge me $12 a day versus the $25 Mr. Hung would have charged. It was actually happening. I would be riding a bike into the unknown tomorrow. Nothing to do now but wander the city aimlessly until six.

Found a small restaurant filled with locals, and pointed at these things. Great meal for $4!



Some random shots of the city.




Saint Joseph Cathedral. This place is packed out to the street on the weekend.


A bike this size is an oddity in Vietnam. The import taxes are just about equal to the value of the bike, so unless your loaded, 250 cc’s is about the best you can do.


After fending off “Moto” touts, and “Girl massage” pimps (often one in the same) for a few hours, I headed back to the hotel. At least I thought that’s what I was doing. Yup, lost again. Finally got accurate directions from a youth hostel. Turned out I’d walked right by the alley way leading to the hotel, at least three times without recognizing it. In my defense I wasn’t the only guest of the hotel to walk right by it. I’d overheard two German women laughing about how the had walked right by it the day before.

Hanoi has a labyrinth of side streets and alleyways. It’s easy to get disoriented. Really, it is!


Me and the staff.


Okay, now that I feel better about myself, lets move on to the important part of the story. Just after 6pm a young guy showed up with the Minsk. The thing was beat to hell. It leaked oil everywhere, was full of dents and scratches, and probably had never been serviced.

I loved it!




I couldn’t wait to get this thing out of the city, and start my adventure. I just had to work out the payment situation, and then I’d be good to go. This is another situation where the staff at the hotel really stepped it up. The contract he presented me with was full of errors. Things like, “If motorbike is return, you pay extra 30% for return early” I was sure this was a lost in translation typo, but I wanted it to be corrected before I handed over any cash. He just kept saying “It okay, It okay.”, but the girls at the hotel weren’t having any of it. They laid into this kid. I don’t know what they said, but he let me make all the corrections I wanted. All I had to do know was pay him.

I brought $300 from home to use as a deposit on a bike. He wanted $400. I was fine with that, but I didn’t have it in U.S. notes. Once again the girls came to my rescue. After a heated back and forth, he agreed to take Dong. A quick run to the ATM, and we’d be all set. Once again I was riding through Vietnam on the back of someone’s bike, and this time I had the added bonus of him popping the clutch and lurching out of every gear. I guess he thought this would impress me somehow, but it only made me fear for my life. Every time he did it, I struggled to keep from rolling off the back of the thing. Thankfully I was able to stay mounted.
It was done. Money had changed hands, and my Minsk was sitting right out front. It all became very real at that moment. Tomorrow morning I would, for the first time; ride a motorcycle in traffic. In a country smaller than the state of Montana, where thirty-five people die every day in traffic related accidents. In a city where crossing the street is considered a blood sport. As I road in this traffic, I would be wearing something that looked a lot like a helmet, but was more akin to a plastic bowl filled with packing peanuts. I started to freak out a little. How was I going to make it out of the city alive? I decided that the best bet would be to get up early and miss the morning rush. I’d sew up my bag, get a good night sleep, then hit the road; and what an amazing road it would turn out to be.

A few parting shots from the roof of my hotel.



Jedum1 screwed with this post 02-22-2012 at 10:36 PM
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Old 02-17-2012, 05:00 AM   #39
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[QUOTE=Jedum1;17991521]DAY 3

I didn’t feel the need to rush out today. The only thing I had on my plate was the lantern festival later that evening, so I slept in and ate breakfast at my hotel. A step above your average continental style spread with five staff members ready to assist me.

Rice, baguettes, croissants, small pastries, fresh fruit, coffee, and orange drink. Good way to start the day.


I know this hotel, southern villa in Hoi an right?, I was there in 2009 and 2011.
Travelling alone has many advantages, some of which are you choose where to go (no compromise), easy to find accommodation, and you're forced to interact with the locals, which is a good thing
I know what you mean about the best time being invited to a locals house or just having a conversation, these things are the highlights.

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Old 02-17-2012, 03:51 PM   #40
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[QUOTE=gavo;18007747]
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Originally Posted by Jedum1 View Post
DAY 3

I didn’t feel the need to rush out today. The only thing I had on my plate was the lantern festival later that evening, so I slept in and ate breakfast at my hotel. A step above your average continental style spread with five staff members ready to assist me.

Rice, baguettes, croissants, small pastries, fresh fruit, coffee, and orange drink. Good way to start the day.


I know this hotel, southern villa in Hoi an right?, I was there in 2009 and 2011.
Travelling alone has many advantages, some of which are you choose where to go (no compromise), easy to find accommodation, and you're forced to interact with the locals, which is a good thing
I know what you mean about the best time being invited to a locals house or just having a conversation, these things are the highlights.
You rock Gavo! I'd completely forgotten the name of the hotel. Looked through all my notes and receipts and just couldn't find it. Thanks also for the link to your ride report. It was nice to see some of the locales from a different vantage point. Have a great weekend!
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:59 AM   #41
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Should have day five up by Thursd
ay. Hope everyone had a great weekend.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:47 AM   #42
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Wow! What a great report!
I must say that Vietnam never really piqued my interest until seeing this report. And it has now been added to the bucket list.
Thank you and looking forward to the rest of the story.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:58 PM   #43
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Wow! What a great report!
I must say that Vietnam never really piqued my interest until seeing this report. And it has now been added to the bucket list.
Thank you and looking forward to the rest of the story.
Thanks for checking out the report. Nice to know that people are getting something out of it. I hope you get the chance to make it out that way. The scenery is absolutely amazing, and the people are some of the kindest I've met.
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:05 PM   #44
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Day 5 - First day on the Minsk!

DAY 5

(Sorry for the delay! Hope it's not to long. If you prefer pretty colors over a bunch of boring words, scroll down for pics. Day 6 soon)

I spent a good deal of time tossing and turning the night before, only to lay in my bed wide awake at 3am. I had planned on leaving at 4:30am hoping to miss the traffic. Since I couldn’t sleep, 3:30 sounded even safer. I took a quick inventory of the room, grabbed my freshly sewn bag, and was out just shy of the new deadline. When I got downstairs I was surprised to see the kid that had been helping me the day before, and another employee laying on floor mats sound asleep. Unfortunately the front door had been locked with a chain, so I had to wake them up. They were startled and a little confused, but managed to get the door open for me. I walked out front, and the bike was gone!

When I asked if it would be safe the night before, the staff assured me that it would be. Now, not only was my trip through the North ruined, but I was also out the four hundred bucks I used as a security deposit. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there, staring at the spot my bike had been sitting in just a few hours earlier. I had to call the police. Would they even be awake at this hour? I collected myself and ran back inside to have them make the call. Just then I saw my little buddy wheeling the Minsk from the kitchen area. I guess they just assumed that I knew this was common practice. Obviously, I did not.

I thanked them for all of their help, then pushed the bike the two hundred feet or so down the ally to the street. The noisy, congested, city I had gone to bed in was a distant memory. At 3:40 in the morning it was still, and empty. The last thing I wanted to do was kick my belching two stroke over in front of the hotel. So here I sat all alone. Not a single vehicle in sight. I couldn’t have picked a better time to head out. Based on the directions I got from the kid at the front desk, I’d be on the main road out of town in just a few minutes. Up two streets, right to the light, then left, and a right. All that was left to do was start it up, and head out.

I flipped out the kick-start lever and slammed it down. Nothing. No worries, the kid who owned it had to kick it over twice. Two would be the magic number. Maybe three? How about thirty? I forced that damn lever down more times than I could count. The lever on the petcock was in the correct position, and the choke was open. With no mechanical knowledge whatsoever I was frazzled. All I could do was take small breaks to catch my breath, and remove layers of clothing, then kick it over again. Finally, after what seemed like an hour (probably more like fifteen minutes) my little blue beast coughed out a cloud of white smoke, gave me a brief sputter, then fell silent. I was already exhausted, but that glimpse of life gave me the endorphin boost I needed to manically kick the living hell out of that lever. It finally took! I was now sitting on a running motorcycle. After a few failed attempts at first gear, I was underway.

I followed the directions I was given to a tee, and I was nowhere near a main highway. All I could do was keep riding in the general direction he had pointed out the day before. Each time I felt I was heading the right way, I’d run into a dead end or a fork. I knew that the hotel was not far from the river I needed to cross, because the ATM I was taken to the night before sat adjacent to it. That trip only took us five minutes in traffic. I’d already been lost now for forty minutes. I did find a few people on the street, but getting accurate directions from them was impossible. The combination of a strong language barrier and a poor map were not boding well for me. The city was coming to life, and I had no idea how to find the bridge out of town. As the minutes ticked by, my anxiety level grew. For another forty-five minutes I floundered through the city, routinely seeing the same landmarks multiple times. Even after finding the river, I struggled for another ten minutes to find the way over.

My primary goal was to make it out of the city without becoming the first national traffic fatality of the day, and I had achieved that. Second on the list was to find my way to Tuyen Quang, fifty miles to the North. Traffic had been picking up steadily, but it consisted mostly of large trucks. Oddly enough, I felt more comfortable around these towering hazards than I think I would have being enveloped by a mass of scooters and bicycles in the city proper. I just chugged along looking for the left fork that would lead me to my destination. To the right, and I’d be back at the airport. I made the assumption that a sign for the airport would be prominently displayed and I could simply head in the other direction. It became obvious pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to be that easy. I couldn’t go more than a few hundred yards without out the road splitting, sometimes in three or four directions. My map was no help whatsoever.

I eventually came to a massive overpass, but nothing to indicate where it went. Not one of the signs I passed mentioned cities on my map. The last thing I wanted to do was blow past the road I needed to take. Had I already missed it? I had to ask someone for help. I found a small restaurant with customers overflowing into the street. Perfect. I was starving. I’d kill two birds with one stone. This place wasn’t like any of the restaurants I’d seen in the city though. This was where the men that worked for a living got their morning bowl of breakfast. As I stepped off of the bike, I instantly regretted stopping here. Everyone was staring at me, and not in a curious way. They looked pissed. I ran through all the possible thoughts that were rolling through their minds, and none of them were positive. I made my way through the crowd to where the cook stood. She literally stood there slack jawed as she watched me clumsily edge my way closer. I asked for Phu (Noodle soup with meat) because it was the only dish I knew. Just so happened to be the breakfast of choice in Vietnam, so it worked out. She asked me a question that I obviously didn’t understand. She pointed to some freshly plucked chicken carcasses, and a slab of beef. I chose the beef. She nodded then shooed me away from the counter towards the front. I obliged. With nowhere to sit, I awkwardly stood amongst five men on the sidewalk. By the time she brought me my bowl, the focus had thankfully shifted from me to all of their normal daily conversation.

The Phu was amazing, and cheap. It ended up costing me about seventy-five cents. A place to sit may have cost me extra. With a full stomach, and less of the locals attention on me, I felt comfortable asking directions. I pulled out my map and asked a gentleman that had just finished his meal. I pointed to where I wanted to go, and the next thing I know everyone that had been giving me the stink eye was now desperately trying to help me find my way. Fingers were pointing every which way, and some mild arguments broke out amongst them. I was worried that I wouldn’t get accurate directions, but at the same time I was really enjoying the chaos. The place had come alive, and I was right in the middle of it. For the first time today, the stress of getting out of the city had fallen away, and I was truly enjoying myself.

The consensus was that I would need to get on the overpass heading east. I thanked my new group of friends, and headed out. It took a while to find the onramp that headed in the right direction, but I was now eastward bound. As I passed over the river for the second time, I started to second-guess the committee’s ability to direct me. This was compounded when I finally hit the other side, only to run into yet another fork. F*$K! I took the left one hoping to see a sign with Tuyen Quang somewhere along the way. I didn’t. For what seemed like the fifteenth times that day I pulled over and asked directions. This time at another storefront restaurant, but with a much younger crowd. When I pointed to my destination one guy in his teens quickly nodded, hoped on his scooter with his girlfriend, and motioned for me to follow them. I NEVER would have found the main road without this kid. We easily made seven turns over the span of two miles before he pointed to his left, smiled, then sped off. What should have taken no more than forty-five minutes, took me about three hours, but I was finally on National Highway 2.



After a couple of miles on the highway I decided to see where a dirt road led.


I was forced to change course a few times, and remembered just how easily I’d gotten lost up to this point. Maybe I should save the trailblazing until tomorrow. I made it back to the highway without incident, for the straight shot to Tuyen Quang.











If the traffic don’t get ya, the water buffalo will.




Rice noodle don’t get much fresher than this.




It was hard to make good time with the scenery constantly begging me to stop and take it in. After my manic push to flee Hanoi, the serenity of the countryside was overwhelming. The journey was quickly becoming much more important than the destination.

















I reached Tuyen Quang just before Noon. After a bit of searching I was able to locate an ATM and a hotel. The kid at the front desk was fascinated with the Minsk, which surprised me. Everything I’d read indicated that these bikes were pretty common out here, but I hadn’t seen one yet. Apparently neither had he. He motioned that he wanted me to park it in the lobby. As I started to get on, he excitedly began shaking his head, and pointing to himself. Fine by me. I’d already been riding off and on for over seven hours, so I could use the break. He hopped on with confidence, but then realized it was nothing like the scooter I’m sure he was used to riding. He randomly pulled the front brake, and clutch levers, while searching for the electronic starter. I let him fumble around for a moment hoping he would figure it out. He didn’t. I showed him what do to, but he just didn’t have the strength to kick it over, so I did it for him. He then proceeded to stall it three times. A passerby that had been watching all this shouted something at him, and the kid handed the bike over to him. The new guy kicked it over, and took off down the street. After riding around the block a couple of times he pulled it into the lobby. After shaking my hand and laughing at the kid from the hotel, he went back about his business.

My room was anything but flashy. For $9 I got a bed, ceiling fan, a bathroom with a western style toilet, and a showerhead attached to the wall. Outside of Hanoi each of the hotel bathrooms was almost identical.
This is a shot from a larger bathroom at hotel later in my trip. When you’ve seen on North Vietnamese bathroom, you’ve seen them all.



I also was treated to wet towels, and a bed full of pubes. Just like the massage tables I’d had the pleasure of lying on, the bed linens were unchanged. I tried to ask for clean sheets, but I couldn’t figure out a way to convey it. With no sleeping bag, it looked like my clothes would be staying on tonight.

The view.






After unpacking, I headed out. I was starving, but I couldn’t seem to find any places that looked like they were serving food. I finally ran into a place with a buffet style setup.




One thing I found very funny, and kind of disconcerting, was the fact that all of the plates and bowls were covered, but the flies had free reign of the food.


The food was either really dry, or really greasy. I had gotten there a few hours after lunch, so it had also been sitting out for a while. This didn’t stop me from filling my plate twice though.




After eating, the woman who owned the place motioned for me to sit at another table that contained everything you'd need for a nice cup of tea. Strong, but very tasty.


After finishing, her husband handed me a bill for twenty thousand Dong, but she lost her mind as I was walking out. I guess he had undercharged me. She scribbled thirty on the bill while yelling at me. She’d been screaming at people on the street the entire time I was eating, so I didn’t take it personally. I paid the extra ten thousand, which brought the total for two plates of food and a beer to $1.80. You want to live on the cheap, come to Vietnam. My belly was full and my five o’clock shadow was in full effect. Time for a shave.

I found a little salon with three young guys, each decked out in knock off Armani Exchange gear. Strangely enough, this was a pretty common here. I was in the boonies but just about every person under thirty was wearing trendy clothing. I pointed to my face, and simulated a razor with the side of my index finger along my neck. I got a nod from one of them, and was seated. Unlike my first shave in Hoi An, this guy knew what he was doing. Ten minutes later I was out of the chair, and handing over a dollar.

When I left the hotel I asked if there was a place to get a massage. At this point I was getting pretty good at conveying what I wanted through hand gestures. He let me know that he could set something up in my room for six o’clock. It was now about three, and I was exhausted. I didn’t want to fall asleep during the massage, so I decided an iced coffee would be my next objective. Not to far from the salon I found a little café. I sat at one of the outside tables, and ordered. I was brought each of the components for my Vietnamese coffee, and regretted not paying more attention when my hosts in Hoi An had prepared it for me. Luckily the two men that were sitting inside saw me fumbling, and came to assist. One of them had a laptop with an internet connection, so we were able to communicate through Google Translate. I spent the next hour and a half with them, the owner and his wife. It was a really nice, mellow way to spend my afternoon. Before I left we made plans to meet the following day at eight. I’d planned on leaving earlier, but was happy to push my departure time to share breakfast with them.




Some shots on the way back to the hotel.






Got back to the hotel just in time for my massage. The girl knocked on my door just after six. She was carrying a large case with a handle and a number of locking latches. I invited her in, and tried to get a sense of what the next step was. Virtually every massage I’ve gotten has required me to be naked, or to wear some kind of loose fitting garment that is provided, but in each case the masseuse would excuse themselves. This one just stood staring at me, waving her hands, as if to say “Get on with it.” I’m not a shy guy by any means, but I didn’t really know how far I was supposed to go. I played it safe and stopped at my underwear. That seemed to be good enough for her. What followed was the most painful massage of my life. Knees, elbows and knuckles were driven into every pressure point on my body. At one point she attempted to stand in the small off my back and pull my arms behind me. Everything else was painful, but this move could have ended my trip. My “NO, NO, NO!” scared the hell out of her. It was obvious she thought she’d done something wrong. Thankfully I was able to convey that she hadn’t, and that my back was already injured. She smiled with relief, and gestured for me to lie back down. It was now time to see what was in the mystery box.

She carefully pulled out thirteen glass cups, each with a rubber nipple at the top. I was about to experience cupping. I’d heard about this ancient holistic treatment before, but had never experienced it. I’m a pretty big skeptic of holistic/alternative medicine, but I figured I’d give it a shot. She started with my shoulders, slowly working her way to my lower back. A small pump was used to suck the air from each, creating the suction that was supposed pull out my stagnant Chi. In the end all I was left with were sore muscles, and these beautiful parting gifts.


Once she packed up, I asked how much I owed. She wrote eighty thousand, so I gave her one hundred. She started shaking her head, and I initially thought she wanted more, but it turned out that the idea of receiving a tip was simply foreign to her. This is how she tried to show me that I had paid too much.

(VIDEO)


Go figure. We eventually got it all straightened out, and she left with a big smile on her face. It was only a bit passed seven, but I was beat. Time to pack, then slide between the filthy shits of my bed for some shuteye.

Jedum1 screwed with this post 02-24-2012 at 08:42 PM
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:18 PM   #45
aDave
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Very nice!

I'm really enjoying your report. Being a son of a bitter Vietnam veteran, this is helping me to see the beauty of this country and its people in a new light. Very nice eye with the camera. I admire your courage to push through your fears and stereotypes.

Keep it coming...
Dave
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