A Travellerspoint blog

Photos

Pongour Falls: IMG_3349.jpg

Motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh:
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How dirty our faces get after every day on the bikes:
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How sweaty Ben gets:
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The happy Buddha:
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Posted by Benannatravels 17:55 Comments (0)

Motorbikes days 8, 9 and 10/Saigon!!!

Day 8 was a relaxing ride through stunning scenery. We crossed rivers and drove through forests and mountains. It was a nice change from the hectic riding we had grown accoustumed too. The weather was also a nice change, having gone from wet and miserable to blazing sunshine! We like south Vietnam :) however these luxuries came at a cost, as we had ventured from the main roads and into the country side and the roads were not such a nice change. We still can't believe we got through with only one puncture! (And that wasn't even from a pot hole!) the pot holes only got worse the closer we got to Da Lat. It seemed we were riding through constant construction sites! We arrived in Da Lat in one piece in mid afternoon and had a late lunch overlooking a lake that we then rented a swan pedal boat on. We explored the market that was right outside our hotel. It was huge but sold cheap knockoffs and looked like a giant jumble sale unlike Luang Prabang where everything was hand made and locally sourced. We went back to our room where Anna went to the balcony to take some pictures of the market. She managed to capture a police raid busting all the unlicensed street sellers!

Yesterday was a more eventful day. We visited the crazy house in Da Lat that is... Well... Crazy. Words can't quite describe it, so pictures to follow :) we got on our way but shortly stopped as we realised we hadn't eaten! We stopped at a bamboo treehouse type restaurant that had a roller coaster, cable car and river canyoning. We thought we'd explore! We followed a path down through the forest to a waterfall!!! We caught the "roller coaster" back up the hill. We didn't stay long as the whole area was overwhelmed with tourists so we got back on the bikes and headed for our next stop: Pongour Falls.

These waterfalls were a completely different story. They were in the middle of no where at the end of a dirt track. There were no signs no tourists. It was perfect! The falls themselves where amazing, it was a huge valley. Once again words can't do it justice so again, a picture will follow. We enjoyed our time at the falls swimming and sunbathing so much by the time we left it was half 4. We still had an hour and a half of riding to go so we were against the clock. Again it was a bumpy ride but we found a hotel at our penultimate stop just before dark.

We had a lie in as we had been doing a lot of long days riding and today was our last day and would only take about 4 and a half hours. Again the scenery was breathtaking. Vietnam is incredibly green! It has been getting hotter and hotter the further south we go. Today was around 35 degrees and with our bike layers on it is safe to say we were hot! It was a very easy going ride until we got to the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh. We have never seen so many bikes together let alone be part of it. It was like being part of a swarm! We can't say how many there were as we can't count that high! We arrived dirty, tired, hungry, dirty, hot, sweaty, dirty and burnt but we made it over 1000 miles from Ha Long Bay to Ho Chi Minh. We found a hotel in an amazing spot in the centre of the city and had much needed showers. We found a gluten free Italian restaurant online so that was naturally where we were headed! Across the street there was even a posh supermarket with a gluten free section! We went to stock up but needed to get some more cash out. By the time we got back it had closed! A lot of the ATMs here don't accept British cards and so it takes about 5 attempts to withdraw cash every time! Guess where our first stop is tomorrow?! Gluten free!! Saigon could well be our favourite place yet. We are very proud of ourselves to have made it all this way on our little bikes and are looking forward to exploring the city more tomorrow. Fingers crossed we sell our bikes!

Posted by Benannatravels 07:51 Comments (0)

The bike repair shop..

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Posted by Benannatravels 05:00 Comments (0)

Motorbikes day 7... and it rained and it poured.

After a rough nights sleep, we got ready for day seven on the bikes. We were doing really well for time and distance as we wanted to get to Nha Trang early to enjoy the beach until... Anna's back tyre went flat. Luckily she noticed it went flat right outside a mechanics workshop/house. The man kicked the back tyre and shouted some words to us so we assumed he knew what he was doing. He and his family didn't speak a word of English and so gestured us to sit on these tiny child like chairs but Ben decided to sit on the floor. We watched the man change the tyre in his sandals and we were fascinated by his 'tools'. They were all different sized peices of wood. But they did the trick as in no time we had ourselves a brand new tyre for £16.
Two days ago we had to ride to the very top of a big mountain to experience a rain cloud, but today the rain clouds came to us, and boy were there plenty of clouds. We were soaking wet but we persevered through the weather. The stunning scenery helped spur us on to reach our goal whilst praying for sunshine.
We arrived in Nha Trang and were so thankful to eventually find our apartment. We soon hung all of our clothes around the place to let them dry...

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To our horror, we then discovered that bens scarf had leaked all over his White tshirt. I guess the natural dye isn't waterproof :-( on the upside we get to go shopping as Anna's scarf also made a bit of a mess on her top.
We went for a walk along the beach and the sun came out making it an enjoyable stroll. We went for some dinner and sat near the street where we could see all of the tourists. In the past week we have only twice visited touristic locations. This time we noticed how the majority of tourists were infact over weight. I guess it stands out a lot more when your around skinny Asian people constantly.
Also during our meal, Anna received lots of unwanted attention, aka three staring men. It's strange as you would think the staring would take place in the none touristic places.
We went for a quick look in the markets for some new clothes but here the quality is no way near that of Luang Probang.
3 days of biking to go...

Posted by Benannatravels 04:56 Comments (0)

Motorbikes days 5 and 6

On Friday morning we woke up early, not neccessarily to leave early but to make the most of our hotels pool! We had a quick breakfast (the best yet as there was sausage and bacon and cheese! - Anna doesn't usually like omelette or watermelon which apparently is the standard breakfast here so she has to grin and bare it most mornings) then headed over to the 4th floor to have a nice refreshing dip. It was freezing!!! But we managed a length. We decided, to save some money, that we would get some provisions for packed lunches. We hadn't done this earlier as supermarkets have been non existent so far but we found one in Quang Tri so we made the most of it and stocked up on snickers and kit kats! (we got some fruit too don't worry mum).

We set off and had a pretty uneventful ride apart from seeing our first fellow tourists on motorbikes!!! Things got much more exciting from then on. Anna dodged a bag of sick that had been launched from a bus window, a bus overtaking a bus nearly flattened Ben and there were some near misses at junctions (or should it be near hits?) as there seems to be no rules on who has right of way.

After all this excitement we thought pulling over in a nice sunny spot along the river in Hue would be a good idea. We had our packed lunch whilst men fished and women washed their pots and pans. A very stereotypical Vietnamese lunch!

We got back on our bikes hoping for a return to our peaceful riding from earlier that morning. This however was not to be. We quickly encountered an 18 wheeler that had gone off the road and crashed in the ditch before entering the tunnel we had just exited. We continued along our route over a huge bridge where we were the only bikes. We were frantically waved down by a man in a hi vis jacket holding what appeared to be a ping pong bat with the word stop tipexed on. He sent us back the way we'd come telling us to turn left at the end of the bridge. How thankful we were. This route took us along a winding coastal road and up into the mountains, passing waterfalls, forests, herds of goats with tiny kids and up into a rain cloud. It was very cold in the cloud and you could hardly see anything but once we came out the other side the views were incredible...

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The sun had finally come out bringing with it all the other tourists! Ben even got his picture taken with a local, his height, his white and his beard are attracting a lot of attention. Anna was jealous of this new found fame Ben had acquired so pushed him off his bike. Again!

The toilets we are having to use at the petrol stations along the way are disgusting, as in horror movie disgusting. They could have their own channel 4 dispatches documentary! We weren't going to mention it but we know how much you guys like to read about our toilet trips.

We eventually found Hoi An in the middle of nowhere with no road signs or main roads. It was an amazing little town with loads of character, if we had some more time and were able to have a rest from riding this is where we would stay. All the hotels were either way out of our price range or fully booked with all the aforementioned tourists. One man on a motorbike was very insistent that we follow him to his hotel telling us the one we intended to stay in was "very far" and that his was in the centre with views of the river. We didn't go with him and managed to find a hotel in our price range that looked nice. We unloaded our stuff and explored our room. This hotel was furnished with air con, flat screen TV, mosquito nets and a gecko that we named Steve. Next on the agenda was dinner. We were starving!!! We found a lovely little restaurant where we had a 4 course meal each that came to a grand total of 10 pounds!!! We even met a nice lady called Maggie who was getting her teeth done on the cheap and wanted to know if she'd be able to eat a banana pancake without undoing the good dentists hard work. Personally I just think she was too tight to order one for herself.

The next morning after a rough nights sleep (I'm sure there was someone butchering chickens and geese outside our window all night) we went for breakfast. We found more banana pancakes that were this time made with rice flour. Anna could hardly contain herself after missing out the night before and surrendering her portion to Maggie and her dazzling new dentures. She wolfed down the pancake and too the owners absolute delight (horror?) ordered another!

We were yet again on the road. This time Anna narrowly missed a 2 litre bottle of wee thrown from a truck window (surely this can't be coincidence, I think they have a problem with blonde girls on bikes!). Speaking of wee I'm sure we missed another national holiday. Urinating in public day. Or against the wheels of your bus. Or just on the side of the motorway.

We were driving so fast Anna's horn button flew off! Just kidding, we weren't going fast at all the bike are just falling apart. When we arrived at today's hotel Ben's bike decided it didn't like being leant on its stand and wanted to lean on Anna's bike, he leant over for a helping hand but lost a wing mirror and ended up on the floor. The plan was originally to sell the bikes for roughly the same price we bought them for but they seem to have different ideas and are depreciating by the minute.

After driving through beautiful countryside and seeing our first proper sunset in Vietnam it quickly got dark. As you will likely know dusk is when the insects are most active. It is also hard to see with sunglasses still on. This lead to eyes and foreheads plastered with all sorts of Vietnams flying insect population. With our faces covered in bug juice, our bikes falling apart and the day coming to an end we stopped at the first hotel we saw. We quickly changed and headed out for dinner, we got a taxi into town to trip advisors #1 recommended "restaurant" our dinner was lovely and only cost £2 including drinks. When we left we found that our taxi driver had waited outside to give us a lift back (what a guy!). We motioned to him that we would walk to find an ATM then come back and meet him where he was. He smiled and nodded. As we reached an ATM we turned to see he had followed us along the street at walking pace. The complicated hand gestures had obviously not been quite as clear as we'd hoped. He now waited for us outside the ATM booth, which did not recognise English cards. We had to cross the road in front of our taxi and head back in the direction we'd come, to another ATM booth. Our driver turned around in the street and again followed us at walking pace. We had thought of going for a nice stroll around the sea side town but it was quite apparent that the taxi driver wanted to make sure we got back safely, soundly and quickly!

We have 4 days left of riding and 700km to Ho Chi Minh.

We now are writing this after another long, eventful but most importantly fun day in Vietnam.

P.s we are dodging police because apparently international drivers licences aren't recognised here so really we shouldn't be riding at all!

Posted by Benannatravels 08:39 Comments (0)

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