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Week 9 & 10 - South Vietnam, Motorbikes!

Ho Chi Minh, Vung Tao, Mui Ne, Dalat & Nah Trang

We crossed the border into Vietnam and arrived in Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). As we entered the city, we were taken back by the sheer size and busyness of the place. The roads were filled with hundreds of thousands of bikes, beeping their horns every other second, this made crossing the road a challenge in itself! The city looked really impressive at night, with all the colourful lights illuminating the streets and skyscrapers towering over you.

We spent our time in Ho Chi Minh having a few home comforts, in the days we went to Diamond Plaza, a big complex with a cinema and bowling alleys, we even managed to see the new bond film which was quality! We spent our evenings in the backpackers area drinking 30p beers in family run street stool bars, meeting other travellers and also bumping into people we had met previously. One night, we were sitting enjoying a few sherries when a huge brawl between local families errupted in the middle of the road where chairs, bottles and bamboo poles were being thrown about, willy nilly. We thought the old dears were coming out to diffuse the situation but they were up to their usual tricks, stirring the pot! It soon dispersed when one lad came out firing gunshots in the air, which caused a hellish panic in the bars as plastic tables and chairs were flying all over the road! We were later told he was an undercover policeman but we weren't convinced!

We bumped into the Canadian girls we went trekking with and alltogether we visited the Ho Chi Minh war museum. This was really interesting and shocking at the same time, especially the after affects the chemical warfare has caused to this day with people being born with physical and mental deformities.

It was whilst speaking with other travellers in Ho Chi Minh, we decided to buy motorbikes to ride the length of the country to Hanoi. We bought our Honda Win bikes off an English guy who moved out here 5 years ago who owns a garage. He sorted us out with good helmets, wet weather gear and a map. He then gave us a lesson for a couple of hours showing how to ride them and then showed us the best route up the country, and good places to stop along the way.

The night before we stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of the city, so we could start our journey away from the chaos of the inner city and get onto the highway easily. We treated ourselfves to the hotel spa, equipped with some fruity golden robes and enjoyed the sauna, steamroom, jacuzzi and massage. The next morning we set off on our first day of riding to the seaside town of Vung Tao. After starting in the chaos of highway 1, it was nice to get onto the wider and quieter roads, it wasn't the most interesting of rides but it was nice to reach the coast in good time without any problems.

The following day we rode up the coast to the beach resort town of Mui Ne. The weather was awful and we go absolutely soaked but the ride was pretty good as we went through lots of countryside and some beautiful coastal roads, even in the shoddy weather!
Our time in Mui Ne was spent in rainy weather, but we decided to brave the conditions and spent the day sand boarding on the red and white sand dunes.
The following day we set off early and headed inland to the french colonian town of Dalat, located in the mountains. The weather was great for this leg of the journey and the ride was also really enjoyable; with a big ascent and descent up winding, thin mountain roads, dodging lorries and bikes! The views were great with farmland and rice paddies dominating the landscape.

Dalat was a beautiful place centered around a large lake, the scenery here was different to the rest of Vietnam, with pinetrees replacing palmtrees and the climate was cooler, , for the first time yet we had to get our jumpers out! There was a good atmosphere in the town and it was surprisingly busy for a town up in the mountains. Whilst here we ventured further into the mountains and went to local waterfalls and a cable car ride that took you over pineforests and amazing views of Dalat and the surrounding area. At the base of the cablecar there was a monestary and gardens occupied by monks, the place was crowded with Chinese tourists and a group of teenage girls took a liking to Josh and all insisted on having their photo with him, they must have mistaken him for Bepe Di Marco due to his filthy facial hair from his Movember effort!

Our next ride was the best so far, we headed from Dalat out of the mountains towards the coastal town of Nah Trang.
Going through the mountains there was some breathtaking views where you could see for miles on end and it was awesome riding through and above the clouds past loads of waterfalls and cliff edges and we got some great photos.
Nah Trang was very touristy but we enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a classic beach resort with lots of restaurants and bars. We had a couple of goodnights out here and spent a day on the beach. We also visited Vinpearl waterpark on an island where you had to jump on a cablecar ride over the bay to get across. This was great fun and as we spent the day on water flumes, rollercoasters and a big arcade with bumper cars and Vietnamese karaoke boothes! There was also an aquarium with sharks, turtles and sting rays.

Riding the hogs from place to place is so much fun and you get to explore the real Vietnam with so much more freedom, off the beat and track away from the tourist routes, through the countryside and rural villages, experiencing the Vietnamese peoples lifestyles and stunning areas.
The Vietnamese people are so friendly, every time we have stopped they have been helpful and welcoming, offering food and drink and assiting us with our route and bikeproblems.
We have had a few minor bike problems on the route so far but luckily mechanics are easy to come by and are dirt cheap and do a good job. For example Rob had his chain tightened, puncture repaired, oil changed and startermotor replaced for 120,000 dong which is about 3 quid!
The petrol is also really cheap, it costs about 4 pounds to fill up your tank which will last you all day, doing between 150-200 kilometres.

We are now heading further North on our motorbike adventure joined by two other lads, a Welsh guy called Lewis and a Portugese guy called Adrian.

Drive on!
The Wild Hogs!

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Posted by Ben-Rob-Josh 00:45 Archived in Vietnam

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