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Old 08-17-2012, 08:48 AM   #31
SteveMc181 OP
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Ride Day 4: Nha Trang to Quy Nhon

Another awesome ride today, we travelled up the coast from Nha Trang to Quy Nhon. Highway 1 was a bit lighter in traffic today, but the kamikaze bus drivers are just lurking everywhere ready to take out a rider who isn't concentrating on the job at hand!

Ready To Leave our hotel and say Good Morning Vietnam!



Awesome scenery everywhere!









We had a new tyre fitted to Richards bike in Nha Trang ($40.00) and they came and took the tyre away and replaced it within an hour or so, we had to do some quick brake adjustment along the way as Richard was having trouble stopping. Apart from that the bikes have been behaving themselves ok. Richard and I look at the other guys with envy when we see their nice new machines with suspension that actually works!





Whats with the girly drinks guys?




After arriving in Quy Nhon around 4:00pm, we decided to partake of a few liquid refreshements until about 1:30ish in the morning, this was a big mistake as we had work to do at the NNC Centre for Kids with disabilities. Not good having a hell hangover and working in the high humidity!

The NNC Centre is a not for profit charity organisation run by the lovely Ms Nguyen Nga. Her dedication to helping these kids out is unbelievable and we all felt humbled by it. On arrival at the NNC centre we were greeted with a song from the music students (Richard has sponsored the band for some time now)



Mick, John and Richard set about reparing the roof while I helped Mr Son with some computer work. We all chppied in and bought various things for the school, including tools, new windows and doors, repaired the roof, bought them some web hosting for a couple of years so they can get their website back up and running etc etc. We have also decided when we get to Hanoi we will donate and ship the bikes back to the NNC centre. I am sure they will get some good use out of them.

Please visit their website and help if you can: http://news.nguyennga.org/

I would highly recommend paying a visit to Ms Nga if you are in Quy Nhon and even volunteering some time or money for these kids. They receive very little help from the government and appreciate everything they can get!

My little friend who does the IT work for them is called Mr Son (Mountain for short) We took them out to dinner next door and we all had a great time.



Mick found the cold beers again!



After dinner we decided to get a few cabs and take them all out for some ice cream. I went with Mr Son on his specially modified little trike. (We have a pic somewhere of this on a different camera) I never would have thought I would be riding on the back of this thing with no helmet and my feet on the mudguards through the streets of Quy Nhon at night. Mr Son was absolutely beaming and very chuffed to be taking me for a ride! Hahaha it was great and he has a heart of gold!





View of Quy Nhon beach at sunrise.



We had breakfast with Ms Nga and a few of her friends as they were taking us on a bit of a guided tour to some sights that the tourists don't normally see. The citadel and another temple that the name escapes me at the moment. They also through their home village and we met their familes etc. Very humbling experience to be welcomed so warmly by people with so little.

This tower is over 800 years old and very impressive.





We wished we had more time, but the day was getting on and we had about 200km's to do to make Kon Tum, and it was already midday. 2
We figured about 4-5 hrs to get there based on the road conditions and traffic we had experienced so far. Everyone is in a great frame of mind and loving the ride!

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Old 08-17-2012, 09:24 AM   #32
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Ride day 5: Quy Nhon - Kon Tum

After saying our goodbyes to Ms Nga and her friends we ventured off back up into the mountains and towards Kon Tum. We veered off of the main highway and took a shortcut through the back roads, passing through some more awesome scenery, dodging water buffalo, pigs, dogs, chickens, bullocks, kamikaze bus drivers etc.

A fairly uneventful ride but very awesome! The looks that Mick gets when he is standing on the pegs to stretch is unreal! They can't believe it! and all have a good laugh. The helmet cams also attaract a lot of attention from the curious locals! As we wimd up through the mountains and pass through the villages, the kids must hear us coming and they all run out waving and smiling!







The view from our Hotel in Kom Tum:



We arrived in Kom Tum around 5:30pm and got showered and went to find the hotel bar and restaurant, WHAT do you mean the bar is shut! Hahahaha, beers and ice to our room please! We ventured down the road on foot and found a coffee shop that also sold cold beer! (If you haven't guessed by now, we do enjoy a drink or three!) After that we headed off to find some food, and I honestly can't believe we ate at this dive. We were all worried we would get food poisoning but hell we were hungry! Beef Noodles all round!





We haven't needed to use too many of these as most places have a normal toilet, trust me to pick the dingiest place to have to use one!



Back to the hotel and a well earned rest! Next ride is along the Ho Chi Minh Trail from Kom Tum to Da Nang!

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Old 08-17-2012, 09:45 AM   #33
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Vinpearl Island resort

Quote:
Originally Posted by KMC1 View Post
Awesome awesome awesome!!!!

Guys, please post LOTS of pictures and please keep an eye out for any great family fun areas on the beach! We are just starting to plan a summer 2014 trip now so you're timing for this thread really has my attention!!! I'm so excited reading this I'm about to go pee!!

And I actually am enjoying seeing how resourceful and daring you guys have been! Keep it up!
If you are coming with your family then Nha Trang and Vinpearl island is the place to stay. Absolutely awesome place to take kids. It has its own theme park, water park and underwater world the resort is great also! You catch a cable car from Nha Trang to Vinpearl for about $20 and then the theme park etc is free. It cost us $50 each to go into the resort and have a smorgasboard lunch. Fantastic food! Richard has stayed here in the past and loved it, and I will be bringing my kids here next year. (Pity about the slow pricks in front of us on the steel tobaggan ride!)


Pics below are all from Vinpearl








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Old 08-17-2012, 10:07 AM   #34
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Steve,
Thank you so much for those pics! The beach looks fantastic, and the countryside looks awesome (well, except for the vipers that live in those jungles and rice paddies... no shit... be careful of snakes there! )

I'm DEVOURING this thread - I hope you make it like 100 pages of pics and your experiences!!! That pho looks like it was fooking good! Dude: Rock on and keep it coming!
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Old 08-18-2012, 11:56 AM   #35
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Ride Day 6: Kom Tum - Da Nang

We were up nice and early this morning (Hangover free for a nice change)
At the hotel they insisted we park the bikes in the dining room for security, none of us had a good feeling about this town, although to be fair it was only a short one night stay and we were gone.



Todays ride would take us via the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Da Nang. I had a good look at the bike chain this morning as I could here it clicking off the sprocket when wheeling the bike backward. The chain was in bad need of tightening and we didn't have a spanner large enough in the toolkit. The sprockets were also buggered and needed replacing, we decided to get the bikes looked at when we arrived in Da Nang later that day.

The video below is unedited and just a short clip of our visit to the bike shop;


Bike Shop Vietnam from Steve on Vimeo.



The Road was rough in sections but generally quite good for Vietnam and the traffic was incredibly light!



A bit of light rain for the first hour or so this morning, we have been very lucky with the weather and have only been mildly wet a couple of time along the way so far.



The good old Black Panther, I can sick Mick is green with envy of my very stylish decals!


Always a smile when we find cold beer! One thing I would recommend to anyone traveling in these parts would be to carry a small cooler bag filled with ice and drinks for the days ride. Most places here don't have the refrigerator turned on and the only way to get a cool drink is to add the local ice to it. This is something to be very wary of if you don't want a case of diarrhea.









We Arrived in Da Nang at the Lion Sea Hotel at China beach, then got ourselves organised and hit the beer garden. We found a girl who spoke very good english and showed her the bikes and asked if she knew a mechanic who could come and do a few minor repairs.

We ended up getting a new chain and sprockets front and rear for my bike as well as my battery charged and an oil change for all 4 bikes for $50.00 (1 Million Dong, including a tip for the girl). The mechanic came and took each bike away one by one and within 2 hours 3 of them were done. Mine would be ready by 10:00am the next morning as he needed to source parts.

All in all a great deal! We then set about destroying many beers and two bottles of Jack Daniels, we were all a little pissy and argumentative that night, but we put it down to the fact a 300km + day was just too much and made us all cranky. We decided to try and limit our days to 200km's or so and found we were averaging around 50km's an hour when moving. With breaks to enjoy the views and rest the bones along the way, 200k's is about 6 hrs in this country!

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Old 08-18-2012, 12:00 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMC1 View Post
Steve,
Thank you so much for those pics! The beach looks fantastic, and the countryside looks awesome (well, except for the vipers that live in those jungles and rice paddies... no shit... be careful of snakes there! )

I'm DEVOURING this thread - I hope you make it like 100 pages of pics and your experiences!!! That pho looks like it was fooking good! Dude: Rock on and keep it coming!

Your welcome, not sure if I'll make 100 pages though! Once I get home I can get the pics etc that everyone else is shooting and edit and upload some video. No worries about the snakes here, we are used to them back home in Australia.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:12 PM   #37
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Ride Day 7: Da Nang - Dong Ha

Not too many pics in this section, I'll need to get them from the other guys later. A fairly uneventful ride up Highway 1 mostly. We were all very seedy and hungover this morning and took a cab ride to a place called Ba'Na Hills, it's a very long chairlift up into the mountains, running short on time though we couldn't spend much time here: Great Views from the top!









Heading North from Da Nang: We headed over the Hai Van pass which was very nice views, I was too lazy to pull out my camera though and will need to wait for pics later.



We arrived in Da Nang and stayed at the Saigon Da Nang Hotel 4 star with great staff who spoke english well and a security guard who looked after our bikes all night. The biggest problem in Vietnam is the lack of undertanding by most people. It can be very difficult to communicate even using sign language, so life is much easier when you find some english speakers if anything needs to be organised.

We enjoyed beers and dinner on the roof and an early night and for the first time Real Bacon for breakfast! That was a big bonus for me!

We are now aiming to be in Hanoi by the 21st, and fly back to Ho Chi Minh on the 23rd. This will give us a few days off the bikes and we can do the touristy thing up in Halong bay etc. We are currently around 600km's from Hanoi, so all well going wellit should be an easy ride. The roads have improved greatly since entering North Vietnam and we can see the difference between North and South quite clearly.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:58 PM   #38
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Ride day 8: Dong Ha - Ha Tihn

We headed off around 8:15am this morning all feeling good and refreshed after our bacon and egg breakfast. North on Highway 1 was the route. The road conditions are vastly different to that in the South and much better with lighter traffic. We have experienced close calls every day while riding and have been squeezed off the road more than once


Saigon Dong Ha Hotel from Steve on Vimeo.

.

I decided to give my bike a good squeeze on the throttle and see if I could get the 100km mark up on the speedo, Yayyyy! I managed a brief moment at 100Kph in Vietnam. I didn't want to hold it there for long though as 100kph on a 150 Husky with lousy breaks and lousy suspension is a scary proposition!

About 15 Minutes up the road I could here the bike screaming at me and at first thought it was a chain problem but on closer investigation after we pulled over, we realised the clutch was screaming. I had a look at the engine oil and it was not registering on the dipstick! damn it! Richard went back up the road a few hundred metres and got some oil. Then the local kids pulled up and made a funnel from some tree leaves.

With oil in it I kicked the bike over and the screaming was still there, we thought the damage had been done but once I kicked it into gear the oil was fed through the clutch plates and all was good in the world!

The moral of the story is I should have checked the oil that morning and nearly paid the price for not doing it, the bike is consuming quite a lot of oil as evidenced by the smoke it blows when you do 100kph!


Clutch problem from Steve on Vimeo.


I have been up half the night after going to bed around 7:30 and waking at midnight, so thought I would take the opportunity to get the ride report up to date. In a couple of hours we head North from Ha Tinh and we are aboput 400km's from Hanoi. Two more days riding and we are done. We are all feeling good apart from the usual aches and pains of riding bikes for a week or more on crap roads.
Mick, John and Myself downed a few B52's last night and this zonked us out, Richard didn't make dinner with us as he fell asleep. So we are feeling the effects of long days in the saddle, but enjoying every bit of it!

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Old 08-19-2012, 04:05 AM   #39
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Ride day 9: Ta Hinh-Thanh Hoa

Well we were into bed early for a chnage last night, but the insomnia set in and I had a pretty broken sleep.

We set off from our hotel about 8:00am and I thought I would dress for the part:



Time for a cool coke along the way:




We went for a ride out to the coast to a little spot and these kids were just so happy. We ended giving them a few bucks each to buy some icecream :)



The first of our drama's for the day (Well it was the first drama if we don't count Mick running out of fuel 200 metres before a fuel station! But we won't mention that!) was John getting a flat rear tyre, we were about 65km's south of Thanh Hoa and a young guy stopped to help. He led us to his family's little workshop. We paid the about $50.00 as we were stuck and had nowhere else to go. Well that was a big mistake, after repairing the tyre once, we were about to set off and noticed it was still leaking. (These guys were all off their faces on something!) So off came the tyre a 2nd time and another patch went on.






After they had finished they tried hitting us up for more money and things got quite heated. It was looking like things were going to get out of hand for a while, so we decided to just get the hell out of there. We made it about 5km's up the road and the tyre was flat again. So off to look for another workshop and we found these two young guys who did a 3rd repair. for us. This time we made sure the tube was checked before going back on!




This cow has a better house than some of the locals!




we can all forget about what I said yesterday about the road improving the further North we got! It was an absolute shocker from here on in: Some very very dangerous riding and multiple near misses. John had a little incident and a slight crash with a guy on a scooter! End result was a bent gear lever, but could have been much worse, thankfully he managed to keep the bike upright.

The locals are suicidal and just do not look where they are going and don't care who or what is coming at them! The road conditions on Highway 1 were the worst we had experienced along with high volumes of traffic and rain. As Mick stated it would be safer to jump out of a plane without a Parachute!

Anyone contemplating this trip really needs to have a serious re-think about their life insurance and family back home. The best way to do this same trip would be to have more time and avoid highway 1 where you can!

We are all now safe and sound in our hotel and unwinding from another arduos day in the saddle, the concentration levels you need to maintain here are very tiring on both the mind and the body! Tomorrow is our last day on the bikes, and we are about 160km's from Hanoi!


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Old 08-19-2012, 08:30 PM   #40
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Hits and misses.

Well, you guys have certainly had your fair share of adventures and mishaps so far.
All part of the fun, heh.
Lots of cool stories to tell us all when you get back to good old Oz.
:)

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Old 08-19-2012, 08:39 PM   #41
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Bad luck on the bike front.

Bummer about Mick's bike going down along with John's confidence.
Must be a huge eye opener seeing the 2 accidents in 20 minutes.
So glad you guys have come out of your trip relatively unscathed.
xxx.

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Old 08-19-2012, 08:46 PM   #42
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Great pics!!!

Absolutely loving the pics of your journey darl.
It just looks beautiful over there!!!
Wish I was with you but of course it wouldn't be the same for you guys then.
xxx.

The pictures of you guys at the disability centre warmed my heart. :)

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:44 AM   #43
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Thanh Hoa - Hanoi

We set off early this morning from our hotel in Thanh Hoa which is about 170Km's south of Hanoi and we had decided to avoid Highway 1 at least for some of the way and go via QL10 to Nimh Binh.
Things went according to plan for at least 5km's when Richards trusty steed! The mighty Suzuki GN125 suddenly died! We farted about with it for a while and couldn't get spark, so we determined it was probably a faulty CDI Unit.



Things were looking grim and we were contemplating leaving it on the side of the road and doing the remaining leg with 3 bikes, (One doubling Richard) Then a little english speaking angel appeared on her scooter and said she knew a mechanic just down the road. John took off with Richard hanging on to his bike for a tow. The guys at the shop were very friendly and set about trying to locate another CDI Unit for it, but things didn't look good as they couldn't track one down!

We were just organising to ship the bike to Hanoi when their friend an auto electrician of sorts turned up and had a good look, we can only assume there was a loose connection somewhere and we suddenly had spark back again! A very frustrating 2 hrs was lost but we were mobile once again! Thanks to our little angel!

We set off down Highway 1 and soon diverted to QL10 when my GPS decided to take us on a nice little 20 km diversion. I stopped and had a look and somehow the set destination had changed and we were going in circles. A quick reset and we were on the right track after another hour lost, but we did get to see some interesting sights!

An old army style floating bridge on QL10








The place below is just out of Nimh Binh about 100km's south of Hanoi, we had planned on doing a cave tour via boat here, but losing 3 hrs on the road was the end of that if we wanted to make Hanoi tonight! So we had a quick look and off we went.





We Came, We Saw, We Conquered!



Todays ride had been a long and arduous trek once again, Highway 1 is a nightmare in sections and much much worse when it starts to rain, oncoming traffic pulls out and passes with no warning and they don't care if you have room or not to get out of the way. Mentally and Physically exhausting from the concentration levels that you must maintain. Trust me there is not a lot of time to look at the scenery when you are riding on this highway! Divert your eyes for a second and your either in a pothole or on the front of a truck or bus!

As we came into Hanoi it was peak hour and raining, the traffic is absolute chaos and the only way to survive is to ride aggressively and without fear. We had some very close calls with only centimetres between trucks on both sides. We also played their game at the lights and gave em a bit of what for in the jostle for the front! Size really does matter in Vietnam, paticularly if your bike is bigger than theirs and you can shunt them out of the way if needed!You won't be shown any common road courtesy and none is expected in return!

We all feel a great sense of achievement in completing the trip and also a great sense of relief that no one was injured. We are now organising to ship the bikes back to Quy Nhon and donate them to the NNC Centre for the disabled kids. We now have a week of R&R before we fly home and we are all glad to be off the bikes and get a chance to relax.

We covered over 2200Km's in total, and most of it was a real grind, but what an awesome adventure was had by all, and a big Thanks to Richard for conceiving the idea and inviting us along! We did it mate! Scratch it off your bucket list now!

Once I get back home, I'll have more time to edit and upload videos, we have over 300GB of video footage from 2 helmet cams so this will take some time to do.

Hope you guys and girls have enjoyed our trip report so far. We will also post up some things we think will be useful for anybody else contemplating this trip. Number 1 on the list is to have your affairs in order and have a will filled out!

Cheers, Steve, Richard, John and Mick!

My next great adventure will be on foot through the Jungles of Borneo and Mt Kinabalu on a trek for Greenpeace in Sep/Oct with my Partner Bren. I think I'll feel safer in the jungle than on Highway 1 Vietnam.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:55 AM   #44
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Whats's this?! You find an English speaking angel in N.V. and you don't post a picture of her!? Blasphemy!

Now then, I'm assuming you'll make up for your transgression while you're toddling around Hanoi! I'm so jealous of you guys being able to have such an adventure, but I have to say, if I'm going to try to do any roaming around (I can only sit on a beach for so long before freaking out!) I am going to stick to secondary roads - you're not the first to describe the driving there as "less than cordial".....
I don't know if you guys watch Anthony Bourdain, but he did a segment on eating in Hanoi that you might want to check out real quick to get some ideas on places to eat - I personally prefer the Southern style food, but some of the stuff he had looked pretty good!

Can't wait to see more pics and am really interested in hearing about what pitfalls to avoid, things to do, etc. and am looking forward to seeing how you enjoy your week of being able to relax a bit during the day - should lead to some late nights!
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:10 AM   #45
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I am sure one of the other guys will have a pic somewhere on their camera's, when I get a chance I'll upload it :) We have already had many late nights
For the past two days Mick and myself have been suffering a mild bout of food poisoning, which made for some uncomfortable riding to say the least! Hopefully by tomorrow we'll all be better and off to Halong bay for a day trip. 7 Seater car, Esky full of ice and beer and some crazy dude driving us! Should be good!

Some of the back roads are awesome but the insane drivers are still there, just less of them! One thing to recommend for sure, is to buy new bikes, we paid $650 roughly each for the second hand bikes and it was only about $1140 each for brand new Sufat 125cc Trail Bikes. You will need a visa for 3 months or more to buy a new bike though, unless you have a vietnamese friend who can buy them for you?

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