Category Archives: Biking South East Asia

Biking from Hanoi to Singapore through Cambodia, Thailand & Malayasia

Hang Tram to Thanh Hoa – Day2 biking

1-IMG_7997With a new low snoring record set for the night of only 11 minutes and an intensity of lower than mild according to Snorelab, it appears that rock hard mattresses are good for me! (Although Sally thinks it was my frightening experience). However, with that and what I could swear was a Hare Krishna mantra wafting through the window it led to me to making an early start at just after 7.30

The sky was still very overcast with very low cloud making for another rubbish sightseeing day 🙁 I found a cafe for my first noodle breakfast. Made with a couple of raw eggs tossed in which then poached in the hot liquid with the greens. Looked disgusting but surprisingly tasty and I guess there was no alternative, except to go hungry.

1-IMG_9383I followed Dave’s day 3 route to Thanh Hoa, the first part of the road is a nightmare unpaved track full of huge potholes etc, through fields of what I think is sugar cane, but with the immense language barrier it could be anything! The surprising thing to me is just how labour intensive it all is and backbreaking work to. With all the vibration my back mudguard stay broke free – but 5 minutes later a bike mechanic fitted a new bolt for free including a decent cup of tea 🙂

Should have stopped and got one freighted back to the UKAfter 20 miles I hit the hills, only 300ft but quite steep. At the summit there were some gorgeous deeply coloured eroded rocks on display. after that it was through endless noisy villages with the frenetic red buses dashing about this with the increasing traffic levels and honking vehicles made me seek sanctuary in the military cemetery for a break.

I made for the same hotel as Dave, The Sao Mai, it’s glory days being well in the past. The bed is fractionally softer than last night, so we shall see what happens to the snoring! I found a neighbouring co-op supermarket (first supermarket I’ve seen in Vietnam) to stock up on some junk food to go with the hand of bananas I bought today.

According to  Strava I did 68.6 miles  (67.8 on the Etrex) today:

Hang_Tram_to_Thanh_Hoa___Strava_Rideand the other exciting images of the day  are here

 

Hanoi to Hang Tram – Ride Day1

TGeoff Jones in Hanoioday with a lot of trepidation I set off at 9.15am  from the Hanoi Moment Hotel to start my bike ride to Singapore 🙂 The hotel was in fact not as good as their new Hotel Moment 2, but the difference is marginal, basically the mattress was worn and there was no breakfast buffet, everything has to be ordered and the pastries are missing 🙁

My big concern, as always, was could I find anywhere to sleep, especially as I wanted to deviate from Daves route by taking the Ho Chi Minh road.  I navigated easily out of Hanoi using the route I had loaded into the Gaia app, the weather was wet and very overcast but plenty warm enough for me. Traffic wasn’t to bad to begin with although later in the day it became fast with heavy trucks near the quarries & brickworks. The express buses are a pain too 🙁

1-IMG_9350At Xula Mai I took the plunge ,after an awful cup of tea (she let me have it for free) and I disappeared down the Ho Chi Minh road  with it’s fast heavy traffic but fantastic views of karst mountains (and even places selling huge chunks of naturally sculpted rock), rice fields & a few very old houses. I tried another cafe, this time it was  a thick Italian style bitter coffee ugh! A couple of drunks in the cafe accosted me but I pretended not to understand their begging motions.

Later I found a very friendly roadside place selling sesame doughy balls & fresh bread yummy and I stuck to a Sprite! whilst Facetiming Sally to show her the country delights.

At the start of the first 10% hill I stopped to check the map, a guy on his scooter stopped & seemed friendly at first. However, he then pointed to the rear seat of his scooter I shook my head & rode off, on the hill he came alongside and once again pointed to the seat, I rode on. He zoomed up the road stopped and when I arrived reached out to grab me, I swerved & engaged full power swearing at him. He once again zoomed off, this time he walked out into the road wielding a large metal object, I pointed the bike at him and cursed him VERY LOUDLY he leapt out of the way! Fortunately by this time I was near the top and he obviously gave up. In 5000+ miles of biking abroad the worst experience yet. Even beating the snarling Romanian dogs chasing me.

Hoa Lu Guest house
Hoa Lu Guest house

I finally worked out the magic Vietnamese word is Na Nghi (well it looks like night to a dyslexic) for a guest house, so for 250,000 dong (£7.22) I have a lovely room & hard bed in the Hoa Lu on the outskirts of  Hang Tram, which Dave passed on his third day. After discussion using Google translate I found the restaurant was in the village a 5 minute bike ride away, in the rain. On the way back my left pedal dropped off 🙁 now here is the  really nice bit about Vietnam, within one minute I was been escorted by a woman and her kid across the road to a guys house with a workshop in his front room! 2 minutes later I was on my way with a crowd of folks shaking hands & waving.

So a good ending to the day. Strava says I’ve done 65 miles at an average of 12mph which is really good considering the traffic and the headwind for most of the day.

Hanoi_to_Hang_Tram___Strava_RideAll the photos are here a weird thing about the Wifi is that I cannot get on Twitter or Facebook but the 3G signal allows it..

 

Hanoi moments

Today Hanoi returned to what I imagine is its usual frenetic pace. The city just reminds me of a huge army of ants, nothing stops them! put an obstacle in their way it’s instantly routed around. Everywhere there is huge business competition (unlike the pseudo competition in the UK/EU/USA  between less than half a dozen ‘market leaders’ all held in place by cozying up to government in various guises)  . Also there is a remarkable lack of aggression. Hence the ability to walk across an endless parade of scooters, bikes etc. they just flow past you. Marvellous 🙂

street barberEveryone is working on a myriad  of jobs, no premise needed, licenses, H&S . Just set up on the pavement hang a mirror on the tree & you are a barber etc etc

First stop was to get a manicure/pedicure foot massage for less than £10. The owner had lived in Kent (that county again!) for 7 years but had returned , first tried to run the business with his new wife in an upmarket mall but the rent was to high so moved to a lockup shop.

me on bike loaded & ready to goI collected my bike and George at THBC had done a grand job, the new butterfly handlebars are excellent and my bar bag was on in minutes. The one pannier idea didn’t work as my foot hit it plus it made the bike unstable. Instantly it was slapped on top of the rack with a huge bungee, so now it looks very Vietnamese. George reckons I could add another person under 40kg as well :-). Fancy a ride Isla?

This Hanoi Moment hotel is also superb especially with the free upgrade. Later, I tried to get my old Travellers Cheques cashed but no bank would take them 🙁 But it was interesting to visit loads of such anachronistic institutions. I wonder when I will be able to travel just with Bitcoins on my iPhone? It’s going to be a massive revolution and its just around the corner unless the wretched USA/VISA/MASTERCARD cartel gets it stopped.

So tomorrow it’s the Ho Chi Minh trail down towards Singapore 🙂 🙂

Todays pics are here

P.S. In reply to Pete comments on an earlier post. I could see no traces of the massive aerial bombardment in my wanders today.  I can well imagine them just getting on filling the gaps and getting on with business as usual! r

 

Halong Bay Tour

Whilst in Hanoi I decided to go on a package tour to Halong Bay after all the rave reviews from various folks I’ve met. Plus the shops were closed for Tet (Lunar new year).

The HanoiMoment2 hotel arranged the trip:

Overnight trip on the Aclass Opera Cruise with 01 deluxe cabin @ USD 149.00 per person x 2 = USD 209.00 in total, inclusive round trip transfers by shuttle bus. Please see tour program at:http://www.aclassoperacruise.com/opera/itinerany/heritage-discovery-2-days-1-night-of-aclass-opera-cruise.htm

In fact for whatever reason the price dropped to $199, which still seemed a bit steep given the low cost of everything here, plus I had seen tours advertised for $60. So I set off a bit wary as to what to expect, this was heightened when the guide Peter called for me and we drove to the backpackers hostel to pick up some young kids, who eventually turned up with enormous cases, much to his dismay!

So we eventually set off on the 3½ hour bumpy ride to the coast with a brief stop at the disabled folks workshop . This had the most amazing selection of stone carvings & other craft stuff. hen we arrived, the boat terminal was rammed full with over 4 million visitors a year this is one big attraction.

AClass Opera boatThe boat itself proved to be excellent with a deluxe cabin, excellent shower & big windows, not that you spend any time in it as it is an action packed itinerary.

The scenery is breath takingly beautiful and to be honest the other ships add to the experience, the weather was an ethereal cloudy which just added to the beauty. In the afternoon we fitted in kayaking, climbing one of the peaks & swimming in the bay plus wonderful meals all exquisitely cooked & served followed by an evening of trying to catch squid amidst the floating plastic bags ugh

Hectic scheduleFirst thing today at 6am it was straight onto the top deck and into T’ai chi, my first experience and very good it was too. After a hearty breakfast it was of to the spectacular caves which truly live up to their name, the queue up was a bit of a pain but soon forgotten once you are inside it’s vastness. Then back to the boat for a cooking lesson which I skipped as the views & tranquility were truly amazing. After lunch it was back to shore and the long ride back to Hanoi.

A great 30 hours meeting interesting people & seeing spectacular scenery my table of 6 had a couple from New York and a couple from Kent with their lad. The tour operator had put us veggies together and even cooked special meals. So pretty impressive. However, Jenny & Marilyn I can firmly say that one or two days on a boat is enough for me 🙂 so no mega cruises for me , yet 🙂

Thoroughly to be recommended….

Loads of pics here and here apologies  to everyone, except them, for the vast number featuring The Kentish folks 🙂

For Emily and her class  here is the route we took (clicking on it takes you to Everytrail)

Hanoi to Halong bay