Daily notes from our northern motorbike loop (most recent first!) ...
- 29.03.17 Thai Nguyen - Hanoi (65km, 1.5 hours) // Hoorah for only a short ride!! Lots of traffic but we made it in one piece. Stopped off at Everest on the way to pick up a parcel that was delivered for me (thanks Dad & Sally!!) then took the bike straight to the garage for a service before we continue on our way tomorrow. Ahh, feels good to be back in this wonderful city.
- 28.03.17 Tinh Tuc - Thai Nguyen (188km, 6 hours, +50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Another long one but roads are improving as we move closer to Hanoi. Felt strange to be on a highway after the last 2 1/2 weeks of mountain paths! Tomorrow we'll be back in Hanoi, having completed the northern loop.
- 27.03.17 Meo Van - Tinh Tuc (143km, 5 hours, +50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Numb bums today, long ride in the bitter cold (yes you read that right). Also had a guardian angel watching over us as our back tyre was punctured about 100m from a randomly placed bike repair shop! A lovely man helped us replace the inner tube for 20,000 VND, the price of a coffee in Vietnam. We have decided to cut our northern loop short as our final destination was a lake resort which would be no fun in this terrible weather. One more rural stop before Hanoi where we'll stay a night for the bike to be serviced, swap our winter clothes for summer ones and finally start to move south of the capital. Sun sun sun here we come!!
- 26.03.17 Dong Van - Meo Vac (24km, 1 hour) // Notes - Short one today, but nonetheless beautiful, if not more so! Also marks the start of our decent to the south, only 2500(ish)km to go!
- 24.03.17 Quan Ba - Dong Van (94km, 3 hours +50,000 VND petrol ) // Notes - Stopped to visit the Hmong King's palace, built by the French colonial rulers at the beginning of the 20th century to keep the King happy! It was one of my favourite tourist attractions so far, so spooky!! Will post some photographs soon.
- 23.03.17 Ha Giang - Quan Ba (58km, 1.5 hours) // Notes - Favourite ride so far today, fairly easy aside from a few dodgy cliffside road works. Scenery was unbelievable - including the imaginatively named 'Fairy Bossoms'! Also the sun was shining for the first time in a while which cast a glorious warm blanket over everything we saw.
- 22.03.17 Pho Rang - Ha Giang (126km, 4.5 hours, +45,000 VND petrol) // Notes - The first part of the journey saw the worst roads yet, if you can even call them roads!! I'm guessing yesterday's rain didn't help. After lunch was much better, a relief to see some tarmac. We arrived in Ha Giang tired and mud splattered but safe and sound.
- 21.03.17 Sa Pa - Pho Rang (108km, 3 hours, +50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Lots of downhill, and lots of rain! We had to use the ponchos for the first time which made us look like a pair of Mr Blobbys on a bike. Luckily the roads were easy to navigate as the rain was heavy at points.
- 19.03.17 Lai Chau - Sa Pa (68km, 1.5 hours, +50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - High climb up to Sa Pa which brought some breath taking views! Heads were in the clouds.
- 18.03.17 Muong Lay - Lai Chau (102km, 2.5 hours, +50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Nice easy one today after a day of rest yesterday, roads were great with only one or two climbs. Saw some pretty brutal animal related sights in one of the villages we rode through, can tell we're close to China! Also saw lots of women and young girls in traditional clothing which is beautiful, will try and get some snaps.
- 16.03.17 Son La - Muong Lay (172km, 5.5 hours, +50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Tough day today, we stopped for lunch at midday and in hindsight should have stayed there for the night as the next possible place to stay was twice that distance again! Roads were bad, steep climbs, narrow gravel roads at points, but we made it to a hotel just as the sun was setting. Aside from the long bumpy ride the scenery was absolutely incredible. Will try and get some photos edited and on the blog soon! We'll be taking it much steadier from now on.
- 15.03.17 Yen Chau - Son La (64km, 2 hours, +50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Mostly ground level, must be sugar cane season as many bikes loaded with the stuff / farmers chopping it down. Stopped in a small town for Dod to buy a camo jacket for £3.50 - he looks even cooler on the bike now.
- 14.03.17 Mai Chau - Yen Chau (113km, 3.5 hours) // Notes - Broke the selfie stick :( & met a Vietnamese couple during a pitstop who fed us sticky black rice cake and took about 50 photographs of us eating it. We also managed to have an entire conversation without speaking each other's languages, quite incredible!
- 13.03.17 Hoa Binh - Mai Chau (65km, 2 hours, + 50,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Dramatic temperature changes in the mountains.
- 12.03.17 Hanoi - Hoa Binh (76km, 2.5 Hours, + 55,000 VND petrol) // Notes - Hanoi Traffic was scary!
Today we began the route to Saigon, I'll be keeping a diary of our progress (similar to this) on the current location page.
1,466km done, roughly 2000 to go!