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Old 02-05-2014, 03:53 PM   #106
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Cheers!

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Originally Posted by TRZ Charlie View Post
This report is a treasure. I have always wanted to go back but never had the resources. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Charlie. Vietnam will be waiting for your return...
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:55 PM   #107
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Hoi An

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I think Hoi An is a nice place despite the number of tourists, been there twice.
Lots to do around there, did you go to Marble mountain for a look?
Hoi An was great, we both really enjoyed our x2 nights there.

Didn't make it to Marble Mtn. unfortunately... couldn't do it all.
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:22 PM   #108
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Hoi An relax

Day 20 - Sunday, November 24
Distance - 0 kms = total for day ~ 0 hrs (actually ~10km to the beach n' back)
Trip Odometer = 2218 kms
Route - Hoi An area relax day.
Hotel - Ha An Hotel - Hoi An ($55 x 2 nights)
Weather - Beauty from start to finish. Sunny and warm.


Hoi An. Rest day. It was another rest day off the bikes that we were both excited for, mainly because we were in an interesting town with loads to check out but also because the weather was finally warm and sunny.


We started our day with the Ha An Hotel's 'included breakfast'. We were stunned at the amount, variety, and the display of the food, it was absolutely top-notch with way too many choices. I couldn't help but shoot a zillion photos of this breakfast as it was our favourite of the trip. For the extra cash (a higher priced hotel for Vietnam), I would highly recommend the Ha An Hotel.






Anything you wanted from a fresh croissant or pan au chocolate, to a bowl of granola with fresh yogurt and syrup, ... to a tofu and chile infused omelette made right in front of you - this breakfast was incredible.








After breakfast, we loaded up my bike and traveled 2 up heading east to the beach - a nice 5 km meander from Hoi An. When we pulled up, there was an 'attendant' in a palapa covered area where people park their scoots and pedal bikes and the attendant watches over them.


He immediately throws a crazy number at me to park the bike (close to $5 bucks) and I immediately get it dropped by a half, thinking his high price was absurd. I tell him we are only staying for a few hours and we agree on a price. Once at the beach for a couple of hours, we get to chatting with a couple from the UK and they too parked a scooter at the same place. It came out that they paid 5000d for the parking spot for the day... meanwhile I paid 50,000d ! ($2.50 vs. $0.25). We got hosed, but whatever, it was a great morning at the beach. (In retrospect, I remember a family friend from home telling me that you only pay $0.25 to $0.50 to park your bikes anywhere in Vietnam with an attendant watching over them... I guess I gapped on this conversation.)












At one point in the morning, a woman (with the rice hat above), came over to us and gestured that they needed help dragging a fishing 'saucer' into the water. The guy from the UK we were chatting with (red shorts above) and I promptly got up to help out while the girls relaxed and took pictures.










These saucers were a very interesting 'boat' to say the least. They were made from weaved tight thatch and had a bamboo platform in the middle for structure - some with a bench as well. These boats were solid and very well made. They would use a tall, single blade paddle and with scull strokes, (the paddle never leaving the water), they were very manoeuvrable. Nets were then tossed from the saucer and the saucer sat very stable in the water. We saw these types of boats up and down the coastal areas.








The fishing saucers right in the mix of the pasty tourists trying to get some vitamin D.






We headed back into Hoi An for lunch and an early afternoon 'fitting' for the jackets that we were getting tailored. We met with the young woman back at her shop and she threw chalk marks on areas that needed to be taken in on both jackets. I noticed that the hood of mine didn't have an extra layer of insulation similar to the main body and she promptly took notes and said she would get that fixed up as well. We were told to come back in the evening to pick them up (which was only a couple of hours away at this point). We couldn't believe how efficient the tailoring scene was in Hoi An - huge business with travellers from around the globe getting custom fit goodness.














We spent a majority of the afternoon wandering around, checking out the beautiful buildings and shops in addition to a bunch of the traditional pagodas and temples of Hoi An.





Hoi An market video above








The day before, we had noticed a great deal of tourists on boat tours in and around Hoi An. We had heard that a tour by boat was a great way to see the Hoi An area and we had decided that we would try it out around sunset that day. Amanda and I headed to the docks behind the market around 4pm thinking it would be a great time to enjoy a cruise. The first boat captain that approached us was a wonderful woman who gave us a price that I was able to negotiate down slightly. I was half thinking that she would wait to fill her boat with others, but she said the price would just be the two of us which was great.


We had both literally just stepped on the boat and another woman approaches us from the docks with x2 icy cold beers in hand at $1.50 for both (same price at the shops and restaurants). Perfect. We paid for the beers and the captain pushed off.








It was interesting how the boat was operated. In the above photo, you can just make out the fishing line to the left wrapped around a small metal post. Our captain had a loop in the fishing line that she put around her toe and it was the throttle for the diesel engine of the boat. She would use her toe as the 'gas pedal' for the boat, only instead, pull on her toe for more throttle, negotiating the fishing line back and forth slightly. She would steer the boat using a simple rudder with her arm.










We were on the water for just over an hour and it was a fantastic cruise. We had a beautiful sunset, I was with my beautiful better half and we had a couple of cold beers, what more does a guy need?! We cruised the Thu Bon River from Hoi An and the our captain took us on a nice loop of the area.
















Before the cruise, I had agreed with the captain that it would be a grand total of $5 (100,000 dong) for the two of us for the hour long cruise ($2.50 each). I paid her the agreed $5 and tipped her another $5 as well. It doesn't show in this photo, but she was thrilled.










Hoi An was a magical place by day and equally by night.








Our tailored jackets were ready that evening for pick-up, we just needed to find a place on our bikes to put them. Our original route the following day was to head back inland to the HCMT and then to continue south before returning to the coast at Nha Trang. The weather forecast didn't look promising so after discussion, we decided to stay on the coast and to head south using both Hwy #1 and smaller coastal roads to get to Nha Trang in 2 long days... hopefully avoiding some of the rain by sticking to the coast. This would also give us another 'double' header stop with x2 nights in Nha Trang.


Stay tuned.





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Old 02-08-2014, 11:31 AM   #109
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305kms on Hwy #1 - South, south, south!

Day 21 - Monday, November 25
Distance - 305 kms = total for day ~ 9 hrs!
Trip Odometer = 2533 kms
Route - South from Hoi An on Hwy #1 to Quy Nhon.
Hotel - Hoang Yen Hotel ($31 US)
Weather - Sunny and beautiful leaving Hoi An... then downpour rains along Hwy #1. Eventually rain mellowed and we dried out somewhat with spitter-spatter rain and broken clouds.




We were sad to leave the comforts of the Ha An Hotel in Hoi An, but we knew we had to push south. We finished up another amazing breakfast at the hotel, packed the bikes and hit the road. It was beautiful leaving Hoi An and making our way the short distance out to the hectic Hwy #1 south.




Once on the #1, we pointed our bikes south and knew what to expect with the large truck traffic, busses passing busses and cars, cars, cars - add the honking horns of varying decibels. Yes, the #1 was busy and hectic, but it was manageable. I think when we decided on this route, we knew what to expect. What made it difficult was the weather. When it started to rain, it came down in buckets, relentless rain. Along the side of the Hwy where scoots normally run, there are generally a few pot holes and dips here and there. With the rain, all of these holes were filled and they were difficult to see. We had to slow down at times due to these 'hidden-traps' along the highway. It made for some challenging riding in a few areas.




Seeing that we had the oil changed on the bikes just over 1100kms, it was time for another ~1000km change. At one point, we passed another Yamaha dealership (I think it was the city of Quang Ngai), so I quickly pulled over and we doubled back to the dealership. We had such great service at the Yamaha dealership in the north, that I figured it would be a good choice again.








We were treated excellent. Both bikes oil was changed, brakes tightened on Amanda's scoot and both chains lubed up. Again, it was a grand total of under 10 minutes in the shop and under $10 total for the service on both bikes... excellent!






It was a long day in the saddle and nothing too exciting to post. We arrived to our destination, tired and with very sore butts. I found a hotel in the Lonely Planet the night before that sounded decent and we also found it without too much difficulty once arriving to Quy Nhon - a city of 275,000.


We pulled into the Hoang Yen Hotel right on the beach and asked for a 'room with a view'. For around $30 US (including a big breakfast), we were up on the 7th floor (in the 10 storey hotel) with beach views below:




We found a restaurant for supper, and then headed back to the hotel to crash, we were exhausted.


We had another long day ahead of us if we wanted to make it to Nha Trang the following day therefore rest was needed and quite welcomed.


Another day on the hectic #1 was in order to make it to Nha Trang...


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Old 02-08-2014, 06:09 PM   #110
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Xin chao

Hi there,
If you are still not yet heading South, I recommended you to visit the Ghenh Da Dia - It's really nice and amazing creature from mother earth.
140km away from Quy Nhon to the South.
You can check the location here: http://wikimapia.org/14045977/Ghenh-Da-Dia






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Old 02-08-2014, 06:46 PM   #111
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Btw, added your RR link into Vietnam library for ease of access for ADVers:

LINK
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Old 02-09-2014, 01:34 PM   #112
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Cảm ơn bạn rất nhiều

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Originally Posted by VietHorse View Post
Btw, added your RR link into Vietnam library for ease of access for ADVers:

LINK
Thanks SO much Viethorse.

As mentioned earlier in this RR, I found your Vietnam links very useful in planning my trip, I can only hope that others find my RR helpful as well.

Cheers!

PS>> We did this trip in November (a few months ago) and unfortunately we didn't see that spot south of Quy Nhon (it looks really cool)... maybe next time
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Old 02-10-2014, 03:42 PM   #113
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Quy Nhon - Nha Trang

Day 22 - Tuesday, November 26
Distance - 224 kms = total for day ~ 7.5 hrs
Trip Odometer = 2757 kms
Route - South from Quy Nhon on Hwy #1D then Hwy #1 to Nha Trang.
Hotel - Ha Van Hotel ($32 US)
Weather - Beautiful and sunny leaving Quy Nhon... then light rain on pass south of Tuy Hoa turning to heavy rain at lunch. Rain stopped heading south in and around Ninh Ma and then started raining again all the way into Nha Trang.




Quy Nhon isn't a hot-spot for foreign travellers, but it is set in a lovely location right on the South China Sea. For us, it was merely a stopover on our way south and unfortunately, it was another part of Vietnam that we didn't have time to truly discover and explore.




Our breakfast at the Hoang Yen Hotel was good, with a huge assortment and choice of food of all varieties. The main dining area was interesting to say the least, the chairs were wrapped in lovely cloth and lace and made us feel like we were in the middle of a wedding reception - perhaps there was one the night before that we missed. We chose to eat on the balcony overlooking the water.










We had an excellent ride south of Quy Nhon on the less-busy Hwy #1D. It wasn't before long that we connected back up with the main Hwy #1 south. The weather stayed fairly nice and dry for the first couple of hours of riding in the morning. We passed a 'fish-sauce' zone where businesses were selling bottles and bottles of the stuff on roadside display shelves. Seeing that we weren't really in the market for the fish-sauce, we kept on riding south.






Peace! It was very common for the school-kids to wave and shout 'Hello!' at us while we were riding by, this happened daily. They see SO many bikes and scooters on a daily basis but they would consistently pick us out of the packs of bikes, and then shout and wave




It was hard to miss this man-made wooden crossing that was just off the main highway. We pulled over, doubled back, headed down a small dirt track and immediately onto this rickety wooden crossing. As I was taking a few photos, I realized that the main shack above was actually a 'toll-booth' of sorts where locals would have to pay a small amount for crossing the structure. We watched the woman above pay (below) and then carry on down the structure. I'm sure she was rolling her eyes at the tourists finding something like this fascinating.








As we turned around, getting ready to head back up to the highway, we met up with this cycle-tourist from China. He was doing the same thing we were, taking photos and checking this thing out. I can't remember this guy's exact route, but he had been riding for 2-3 months already and really enjoying himself.






We stopped for our morning break and bought a mystery cola in addition to a few mystery snacks. We knew the 'roasted peanuts' were more than likely roasted peanuts, but I was always interested in the random snacks that were sometimes hard to identify. This instance I bought these chewy sesame snacks in random packing, they were extremely cheap and equally tasty










Shop Owners - Mother and daughter at our morning stop








It was difficult not to constantly stare at the Hwy road markers every few kms. It was sometimes painful watching your next destination slowly tick down, number by number, especially with the crazy slow highway speeds you are constantly travelling... (40-60kph). Of course at home, a 140 km journey wouldn't take much more than an hour and a half... whereas I'm sure it took us a good 3 + hours to travel that final 140 km to Nha Trang, at least we knew we were going the right direction.








As we continued south down the #1 we came across another beautiful highway pass. It was south of Tuy Hoa and it was incredible. We zig-zagged up, and up, and up, but unfortunately, as we gained in elevation, we lost our visibility and we re-gained our rain. I was trying to enjoy the twisty roads, but had to slow down due to the slick conditions. As we were scootin' through this section I started day-dreaming about my time riding in Central America on my KLR a few years back. Along a lot of the coastal roads in CA, you would see random 'comida' shacks (small food restaurants) with a few chairs and a shelter of some sort to relax under, get some food, maybe a cerveza, and you could sit and enjoy the spectacular views.


On this section of road, rather than food shacks dotting the highway coastline, we were seeing small shacks (I'm assuming with people inside) and outside a variety of hoses shooting water 50' + in the air. With the abundance of water flowing down the hillsides, they were all gravity flow diversion hoses. I figured these out to be nothing more than 'truck-wash' stations. Rather than a sign stating 'Truck-Wash', the proprietor would line up the hoses having the water shoot into the air and because it was all gravity-flow water, there was no need to turn them off, the hoses alone were their 'Truck Wash' signs. Seeing that it was bucketing down with rain, we didn't see any of these shacks with any business what-so-ever. I'm guessing the truckers would pull over and get their rigs washed when the rain stopped. On an ongoing and daily basis, I thoroughly enjoyed the random Vietnam roadside 'unknowns' as I called them... some of these we figured out, some we still do not have answers for.




We pulled over for lunch in the small fishing village of Dai Lanh and had a great meal. We were back to craving a hot bowl of Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) due to the wet weather. Luckily and compared to the north, it was a much warmer rain on the coast. We were still drenched and wearing most of our thermal clothes to keep warm, but rather than getting constantly chilled when wet as in the north, we were keeping warm 'while wet' in these sections of the south.






Above: Someone has horrible spelling...





Above: Another toll-booth... scoots just pass through on the right without stopping and without any payment (see Amanda up in the distance on the right)




We arrived to Nha Trang in the afternoon at a decent hour but immediately didn't know where we were going. The streets were quickly getting more congested and busy and there were off-shoot roads everywhere. The problem was that the maps on my GPS were not that good for Nha Trang, and we didn't have a Nha Trang map with any detail. Neither of us had a roaming package on our phones, so we pulled over and I walked into the first hotel I saw. They were very generous in giving me their WiFi code, so I plugged it in and was able to re-calibrate my Google Maps on my iPhone with the location of our hotel. Once doing that, I was able to use my phone with the 'Location Services' turned on and the phone would show our location on the maps and the proximity to the hotel we were looking for, all in offline 'airplane' mode. It was very useful. It was then a left, left, right, straight.... and then a left, and whammo, we found the Ha Van Hotel in Nha Trang quite easily.





After unloading our bikes, we were told to bring them off the street and into the hotel reception (doubles as an ice-cream cafe) We had a great, safe place to park them in the back by the washing machines.


We both had a nice, hot shower to clean up, and then we hit the streets for eats!


We were shocked when we first started walking around Nha Trang. Most of the signs in the heart of the tourist area were in Russian. Some in both english and Russian, but most, just Russian. We didn't understand this. We hadn't seen anything like this in our 2757 kms and 22 days of Vietnam up to this point and now... Russian every where we looked.


As we slowly discovered in our x2 days in Nha Trang (after curiosity and research), it turns out that Russians have direct international flights to Nha Trang and are allowed a 15 day travel visa which fits together nicely with various charter packages. Turns out, many Russians actually own shops and bars in Nha Trang and many also own vacation properties. What I loosely came up with (off the web) is that Russian has had military ties with Vietnam and essentially a historic war time alliance. The Russian Navy began using the Cam Ranh port in 1979, making it the largest naval base for the Russian Navy outside it's own territory. This relationship lasted until about 2002 and it 2004 the Cam Ranh port was turned into a civil port but recent agreements have allowed Russia to come back and invest in it's shipyards, a submarine base, and a 5-star resort for Russian military officers. I found an article that stated the numbers of Russian tourists coming to Nha Trang is increasing year by year exponentially.


I found it very interesting to learn about this tourist phenomenon - (it isn't even close to Russia.)




With the full 2 days of riding south from Hoi An to get to Nha Trang, the plan was to take another 'rest-day' the following day and we were praying for nice weather and some beach time... after all, Nha Trang is Vietnam's beach capital and we were in desperate need of some more Vitamin D











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Old 02-10-2014, 07:45 PM   #114
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Good stuff, BA! Thanks for sharing.

Pat was in Vietnam in December, too. I don't know if you've read his blog.

Cheers,
Brent
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:31 PM   #115
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Thanks!

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Good stuff, BA! Thanks for sharing.

Pat was in Vietnam in December, too. I don't know if you've read his blog.

Cheers,
Brent
Hey Brent... I had a chat with Pat's folks in Cabo a few weeks back and they told me about Pat's blog. Looks like he and Tig had a great trip to Vietnam as well.

Hope you are keeping well.
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Old 02-11-2014, 04:52 PM   #116
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Nha Trang - relax day.

Day 23 - Wednesday, November 27
Distance - 0 kms = total for day ~ 0 hrs (actually ~10km solo around Nha Trang)
Trip Odometer = 2757 kms
Route - Nha Trang area relax day.
Hotel - Ha Van Hotel - Nha Trang ($32 x 2 nights)
Weather - Overcast and cloudy followed by rain at noon and cloudy in the afternoon.


I had read a lot about Nha Trang before arriving. There is a ton of tourist info online in addition to there being a large section in the Lonely Planet guide we were packing. There were a few reviews that stated a boat tour in the area was a really nice way to spend the day, with some snorkelling and a visit to one of the adjacent islands. We talked to the woman at the front desk of our hotel and she said that these tours could be booked directly from the front desk at our hotel. She also said that they were generally 'weather permitting' and if it was too soggy out, then it wouldn't be the best, and the trips could be cancelled.


We decided to wait until the next morning to see what the weather was looking like, and low-and-behold... it was indeed soggy, yet again.




We decided to take a stroll around Nha Trang rain-or-shine. The breakfast at the Ha Van Hotel was included and we had a good choice off their menu of what we desired. The hotel had a really nice roof-top patio that doubles as a bar/nightclub and this is where we were served breakfast. After eating, we hit the streets of Nha Trang to have a look around. It was quite a mini 'city' with large multi storey hotels all beach-side. There was a really nice beachside promenade and we chose a combination of this and the beach itself. We were both hoping for some warm weather and sunshine and unfortunately our request wasn't satisfied like that of our sunny beach time in Hoi An.






At one point in our walk, darker clouds rolled in and the rain started coming down in droves. We were pretty much near the entrance of the 'Nha Trang Center', a large cosmopolitan shopping center. We ducked inside to wait-out the downpour and were very surprised to see the designer handbags and chic names in addition to the crazy-high prices. Oh well, it was a dry place to wait out the rain with interesting things to look at.


Another surprise was the stuffed ostrich I found, it was guarding the men's ties and belts, wallets and handbags.






I had a really tough time trying to pick-out a new pair of riding sunglasses.... there were so many!




'Jazz-Hands!'





We slowly headed to the top floor of the shopping center where the food-court area was situated. At the entrance of the food court, a guy had a booth offering foot massage and pedicures in addition to the famous 'Doctor-Fish' soak. I guess it is quite popular for tourists to get these carp or 'garra rufa' fish to nibble on the dead skin of their feet and ankles. Apparently, the fish don't have teeth and it is said that it is a very soothing but perhaps ticklish treatment while the little critters eat your dead skin. These two willing participants from (wait for it...) Russia!, were fine with me taking their photo while they had the fish between their toes.




I tried to convince Amanda to get this treatment, but she whispered to me that she would have no part of it. (My 'better-half-nurse' later told me that while working in health care at home, she had previously read that these treatments are quite unsanitary when it comes down to it, and in some places in Canada and the US, these treatments have in fact been banned.)




After a coffee and hot chocolate in the Nha Trang Center, we headed back outside to continue our sightseeing. The rain had let-up momentarily, but at one point, we had to duck-under-cover again on our walk back to our hotel area... more downpour.






Nha Trang - aka: 'Little Russia' - as stated on more than one online Nha Trang website




After an excellent baguette lunch, Amanda decided to head to one of the many Spas in Nha Trang for some sort of a relaxation treatment which she truly deserved after all the days on the bikes. I decided that my feet and nails were fine, so I fired up my Honda and went for a solo spin north of the city center and up the coast. The weather had cleared somewhat and in my 1hr tour I was able to stay dry which was nice. At one point, I looped around and started heading back south of the city. I came across the famous Vinpearl Island cable car. I had read that Vinpearl Island is a luxury 'resort island' owned by a Vietnamese billionaire. The cable lift is the world's longest over-the-water lift - the crossing is 3320m and has 9 support towers. I guess it is lit-up at night and is quite the site.






When I arrived back to the Ha Van Hotel in the afternoon, I sat in the lobby/ice-cream-parlour and got to chatting with the owner of the hotel. It turns out, he is French-Canadian (originally from Quebec City) and we had a great chat. I had a zillion questions for him with regards to Nha Trang and the area, and also questions about our planned route up the mountain pass to Dalat the following day. He was a pleasure to talk with and a wealth of knowledge. His Vietnamese wife owned a restaurant right beside the hotel that he suggested we eat at later.


Once Amanda was back from the Spa, we decided to head for a couple of drinks before going to supper at the suggested 'Nha Hang Yens' Restaurant. We headed to the 'Why Not Bar' in Nha Trang a favoured watering-hole for tourists because of their upbeat vibe in addition to their cheap-cheap drinks.






'Nha Trang - Hedonistic beach party capital' (as stated in the Lonely Planet)... and with these beer and cocktail prices, it would be difficult not to indulge (Happy Hour 15,000d beers = $0.80 and 20,000d highball mixers = $1.05) Yikes and Yikes!


We had an excellent meal at the Nha Hang Yen Restaurant (click this link for reviews). The food was amazing and the prices were very reasonable. It was shrimp salad rolls to start, followed by a chicken curry and pork fried noodle dish, wonderful cheese cake for dessert and beers to wash it all down. Yum.


We had 3 more days of riding ahead of us - roughly 550 km to go to make it to our final destination by motorbike. Our plan was to head up into the mountains to the city of Dalat for a night. We would then head back down for a final day at the beach in Mui Ne and then to Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon by Saturday, November 30th. We had arranged to drop the bikes off in HCMC the afternoon of Saturday the 30th and then Flamingo Travel would arrange to have the bikes put on the train and sent back to Hanoi and we would fly back up on Sunday.


I was excited for riding the next day. We were going to tackle the famous 'new-roads' triangle linking Nha Trang to Dalat to Mui Ne, apparently amazing for motorbike travel
















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Old 02-12-2014, 05:27 PM   #117
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Moto-tacular! The amazing road from Nha Trang - Dalat...



Day 24 - Thursday, November 28
Distance - 142 kms = total for day ~ 5 hrs
Trip Odometer = 2899 kms
Route - West from Nha Trang on Hwy #2 and (#723) to Dalat - AMAZING ROAD!
Hotel - Dreams 2 Hotel ($30 US and brand-new)
Weather - Clear, warm and sunny leaving Nha Trang heading West and inland. When heading up East side of Pass, it turned to misty and wet with elevation, to misty and rainy, and wet on the Pass, then warmer and clearing as we rolled down in elevation into Dalat at ~1pm.






This was one of my favourite days of riding since being in Vietnam's wonderful north-country weeks prior. The road from Nha Trang to Dalat is world class and if you are able to experience it with clear weather you will feel like you hit the jackpot.


After riding the kilometres and kilometres of hectic Hwy #1 since Hoi An, it was a true pleasure to ride west from Dalat and inland, to experience another one of Vietnam's rural gems of a road. Almost immediately after leaving Nha Trang on the #2 west, the traffic got mellower and mellower and the further we headed inland, it was even quieter. Curve after curve, it reminded me of the narrow lanes of the north with very little traffic.


We both had a fantastic morning of riding.







Amanda and I stopped in the village of Khanh Vinh and picked up a few snacks for a roadside break. We pulled over right as we started to gain in elevation and we had a wonderful picnic on a roadside cement barrier overlooking the valley. We could see that we were about to enter some 'weather' as we continued up the mountain, so we figured we should enjoy the warm, dry weather while we could.









A huge thumbs-up to an excellent couple of hours of dry-weather riding on some spectacular road





As we continued our way up the mountain pass, we started to encounter a great deal of mist. This wasn't a surprise from our previous experiences gaining elevation on mountain passes in Vietnam. We pulled over, donned our rain gear and Amanda decided to throw on her Vietnamese poncho for good measure. We kept our chins-up and carried on down this spectacular road, curve after endless curve. We had it good all the way up the pass and we knew that it would be similarly dry on the other side of the pass, closer to Dalat.




"Rain Gear againnnnnn... ???"









The roadside waterfalls along this stretch of Hwy #2 and #723 were endless.








We eventually topped out at 1675m in elevation. Once at the highest points in elevation, the mist and fog were so thick that we had to really slow down due to the challenging visibility. We then dropped slightly in elevation, the fog cleared and it made it much easier to continue along the wet roads. We continued along between 1500-1600m in elevation for quite some time and as we got closer to Dalat we entered mountainsides full of pine trees.






Typical 'Bahnar Thatch House' pictured above










Dalat is known for both the misty mountains and pine forests... an excerpt from Wikipedia:


"Da Lat’s specific sights are pine wood (forming the name: “City of thousands of pine trees”) with twisting roads and tree marigold (Vietnamese: dã quỳ) blossom in the winter. The city’s temperate weather stands in contrast to Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate. Mist covering the valleys almost year-round leads to its name “City of eternal spring”.

The Lonely Planet states that Dalat is like Vietnam's 'alter-ego': "The weather is spring-like cool instead of tropical hot, the town is dotted with elegant French-colonial villas rather than stark socialist architecture, and the farms around are thick with strawberries and flowers, not rice."








As we dropped in elevation and got closer into Dalat, we encountered this unique hill-side cemetery. It was very colourful with various graves and tombs built up in different patterns dotting the hillside. It was quite spectacular.








Pulling into Dalat after an excellent morning of riding was interesting. We first noticed the French influence in many of the buildings on the outside of town (unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to show more detail). Many of the buildings have a Swiss-Alps type styling with stone walls, steep rooflines, and shutters on windows complete with flower boxes and flare.


Pictured below is a back-of-motorscooter 'duckling mobile condominium' and in the top left of the photo, you can see some of the French styling with a building in the distance.






I had reserved a room at the highly rated 'Dreams Hotel' which was fairly easy to find - although, just down the road is the 'Dreams 2 Hotel' which is where we were actually booked into. It is the same ownership, but luckily, we didn't stop at the first Dreams Hotel on the road. I guess there is normal confusion with travellers and both of the Dreams Hotels. The Dreams 2 is the more recently renovated of the two and it was virtually brand spanking new. Our $30 room was very nice, complete with flat screen TV and freshly tiled bath with glassed-in rain shower.


With our shorter 142 km riding day, we arrived to Dalat at 1pm which gave us plenty of time to explore the city, have a late lunch and to see some of the sights. We ended up bumping into another Canadian couple who had bought a used Honda 100cc Win, which turned out to be a cheaper, Korean knock-off version. They started a few days before from Saigon - HCMC and were heading north to Hanoi with limited time. I asked to see their maps and they had one 'free' paper map that was given to them in HCMC. Their map had very little detail and didn't show much, it was in fact brutal in my view. Seeing that we were almost finished our trip with only x2 days to go, I figured we could help them out. I had all of our maps and information back at our hotel, so I zipped back to the hotel, grabbed my extra paper maps and then back to the cafe where we met. I also grabbed Amanda's rain pants to pass along as the couple didn't have any rain gear (they were 'going with the flow') and Amanda figured she could part with them as she had her Vietnamese poncho. They were very happy with our offerings of the good paper maps, and the rain pants in addition to the information we passed along.


With the year round spring-like climate of Dalat at 1475m, our hotel also offered a sauna, hot tub and steam room on the top floor of the Hotel, opened from 4pm - 8pm. We were excited to have a relaxing soak and sauna, so we headed back to the Hotel for 4pm sharp and went straight up to the top floor to enjoy a good sweat.


It was a perfect way to wind down after another great day of riding in Vietnam.










Panoramic view from the top floor of the Dreams 2 Hotel in Dalat.




We had 2 more days of riding ahead of us. Tomorrow, we would head back down to the coast to the beach resort town of Mui Ne to spend our last night before making the final push into HCMC the following day.



Let the Sun!-Shine!-In! on our last beach day in Vietnam... we were both ready for some more sun and had heard that Mui Ne was a great place to soak up the sun and unwind, we were excited





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Old 02-13-2014, 07:08 AM   #118
sophijo
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Great trip Kids!

This has been a great ride. Thanks again for taking the time to post!
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:23 PM   #119
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Thanks!

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Originally Posted by sophijo View Post
This has been a great ride. Thanks again for taking the time to post!
Thanks muchly... Getting close to the grand finale of the trip... Cheers.
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:36 PM   #120
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Dalat to Mui Ne



Day 25 - Friday, November 29
Distance - 187 kms = total for day ~ 6 hrs
Trip Odometer = 3086 kms
Route - South of Dalat on Hwy #20 to Di Linh then south on #28 to #1 to Mui Ne = Beach!
Hotel - Mui Ne Backpackers Hostel ($35 US)
Weather - EXCELLENT! Warm and sun-sun-sunny! SO nice! NO RAIN!!!!! Great visibility, high spirits and dry-dry-dry! (Stoked about the good weather if you haven't noticed).


Our second to last day of riding in Vietnam was a well deserved day for the both of us. The weather was incredible for once, with no rain and warm, sunny skies. The road south of Dalat was somewhat busy as it was a main thoroughfare on Hwy #20 eventually linking to HCMC. We rode this for a couple of hours and quickly turned off onto the more rural Hwy #28 which was excellent.




Above: Amanda enjoying her favourite coffee-break-sugary-goodness... essentially a green-tea-iced-tea cold drink.




Above: coffee beans drying in front of residences and businesses alike along highway 20 south of Dalat. It was a perfect elevation for coffee, cooler nights with warm days.




Road-side dump along the #28, plastic blowing everywhere, surprised we didn't bump into one of these sooner.




Another kilometre down the road from the dump and we encountered lush, arid terracing and more pine forests.





We were very impressed with the riding along the #28. We had the road virtually to ourselves with fun twisties, finally with dry roads and excellent riding conditions. It reminded us of the roads in the northern loop of Vietnam with the addition of these pine forests and lush landscapes. At times, the vegetation would open up and we were provided with excellent views of the rolling landscapes. We didn't stop to take too many photos, but we did stop to shoot one video with my iPhone. The new iPhone has a Slo-Mo feature that we tried for the first time... a cool feature on the phone that you could have some fun with: Check it out below:


Turn the sound up and enjoy the roar of this XR 150!









After a few hours of the amazing highway #28, we eventually linked back up with the busy #1 and then backtracked slightly along the #706 into the coastal resort town of Mui Ne. It was nice returning to the coast with the warm, sunny conditions.





Checking out a left-hand surf break with a few surfers in the water. Surprising as it was all blown out and windy, good for them for hitting the water and catching the little 2 footer waves.




Turns out that Mui Ne is the 'mellower' beach resort area in comparison to Nha Trang. Equally though, we started seeing our fare share of information and signs in Russian as we worked our way to the Mui Ne Backpackers Hotel. We were lucky to book the hostel in advance as it was very busy upon arrival. Unlike Nha Trang, Mui Ne has harder to find options for budget accommodation due to it's size, but it has a plethora of beach-style resorts ranging in price from high to higher.










We checked into the hostel/hotel, showered up, and then headed next door to grab a beer and some food. Mui Ne is a hot-spot for kite boarding and wind surfing as the winds are consistent most afternoons. We sat back and enjoyed the live sports-action from our beach bar restaurant seats. After lunch, we walked down the beach for a relax, but with the wind blowing so hard, we opted only to sit for 20 min or so, or until our pockets were filled with sand.







Our evening was mellow as we started reflecting on the trip and the past 3+ weeks on the road which led us here. We had a good meal at one of the many resort restaurants complete with live music and hefty cocktails. It was then back to the hotel for an early night and a brainstorm session coming up with a rough game plan for our final day of riding.


We were both somewhat nervous and anxious for our final push into HCMC. It had been quite some time since we were leaving the hectic pace of Hanoi in the north and we had heard that HCMC was way worse with around 9 million people and with (equally as many) ~7 million motorbikes! Crazy.


We had planned for a very early wake up at 5 am to get us on the road before 6 am. I wanted to leave as much time as possible for us to navigate our way into the city to our hotel. We were also faced with the task of dropping our bikes in the afternoon at the Flamingo Travel's HCMC office.


We weren't sure what to expect for the following day, but we wanted to get a good sleep and to get our game-faces on for what was to be a crazy day rolling into the dizzying chaos of Vietnam's largest city...








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