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Old 24th February 2012, 18:32   #31
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

highway_star - one hell of a travel you had.
First of all, kudos of thinking something as different as this, and not a "routine" travel experience. I am sure you must've enjoyed this.

Fantastic pics - The region is so lush green throughout. Keep it coming man.
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Old 26th February 2012, 16:04   #32
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Loads carried by bikes in Vietnam

A large number bikes are used everywhere in Vietnam. Cars are not very common. The Vietnamese are skilful in improvising methods to use bikes for transport. They carry stuff that you would not normally expect to see on a bike.

Some scenes I was able to capture:
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Old 2nd March 2012, 01:01   #33
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Day 5: - Mu Cang Chai – Sapa

This day we had a short ride to reach Sapa, which is a hill town popular with tourists. The route went through the Tram Ton pass. We saw some of the most beautiful mountain scenery of the trip.


The town where we had stayed

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Beautiful scenery on the way

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A school

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We rode down

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Fields

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Up the mountains

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At the Tram Ton pass

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We rode down from the pass and reached Sapa late afternoon.

No we come to a big gap in this TL. I have no good photos of Sapa.

It is a pretty town. But the weather was very misty so not many photo opportunities. It should have been possible to take some photos but I didn’t try much. There were a couple of photos next day which I will post.

The town seems to run mostly on tourism. Lots of hotels and souvenir shops. There was also an Indian restaurant which claimed to have an Indian cook. I thought of going in and meeting the cook. But we were going to have dinner at our hotel so I dropped the idea.

In the evening we took a long walk around the town. Later we went to a nightclub for some music and dancing.

End of Day 5

Last edited by highway_star : 2nd March 2012 at 01:05.
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Old 2nd March 2012, 12:04   #34
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Day 5 is spectacular landscapes, reminds you of our Kerala & Uttarakhand!

Did you get refuelling pumps en route?

Great shots of Viets transporting stuff in their bikes. Any Indian bikes in use in Vietnam?
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Old 2nd March 2012, 21:32   #35
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Day 5 is spectacular landscapes, reminds you of our Kerala & Uttarakhand!

Did you get refuelling pumps en route?

Great shots of Viets transporting stuff in their bikes. Any Indian bikes in use in Vietnam?

Fuel was not a problem. Distances were short. We only covered around 1,000 km in six days.

I did not see any Indian bikes.
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Old 4th March 2012, 13:25   #36
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Day 6: Sapa Ė Vu Linh


The hotel in Sapa where we stayed

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Some kind of official event in Sapa

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Terrace farms on the way

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We reached the Chinese border at Lao Cai

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Up to this point our route was towards the northwest, away from Hanoi. From here it was back towards Hanoi by a different route.


Petrol stop

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We stopped at a house on the way to meet some acquaintances of Tan

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Scenes on the way

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Thac Ba lake

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We reached Vu Linh near the lake. The village is inhabited by the Dao people, another of the ethnic minorities of Vietnam. We stayed overnight at a village home similar to the one on day 2.

End of Day 6
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Old 5th March 2012, 23:15   #37
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Day 7: Vu Linh Ė Hanoi


We took an early morning walk to the Thac Ba lake

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This was the last day of the bike tour. It was a straight ride back to Hanoi without much to see on the route.


A river on the way

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We stopped for lunch at a restaurant

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The man on the right is the owner of the restaurant.


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The owner was interested in getting a photo clicked with one of the riders. I canít imagine why. He did not ask me to mail him the photo.


Some exotic stuff at the restaurant

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The way back

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End of the ride at Hanoi

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Thatís the end of the biking trip. We had one more day left in Hanoi. We spent the evening walking around the streets and planning the next dayís activities.

End of Day 7
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Old 10th March 2012, 01:45   #38
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Day 8: Hanoi


We spent the day exploring tourist attractions in Hanoi. We had hired a gearless scooter to go around the city.


Our first stop was the Vietnam revolution museum


French guillotine used for executions

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French weapons captured at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954

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This battle ended the French colonial occupation of Vietnam.


Tail of a bomb dropped by the Americans

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We next went to the Vietnamese history museum.


Imperial treasures

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Statues from Champa (7th to 13th century). This was a Hindu kingdom in the region of present day Vietnam.

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Gate at the shrine of General Tran Hung Dao

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In the 13th century the Mongols had conquered most of Asia and established the largest contiguous land empire in history. They invaded Vietnam three times. Each time they were defeated by the Vietnamese army led by Tran Hung Dao. Vietnamese consider him to be a national hero and offer prayers at his shrine.

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Burnt offerings at the shrine

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After lunch we went to the military history museum

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Ancient cannon

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A captured US helicopter

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Wreckage of a US plane which was shot down

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Captured US bomber

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US Chinook helicopter

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Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, who led the Vietnamese in the wars against the French and Americans

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This is one of the important landmarks of Hanoi. Unfortunately it had closed by the time we went there. Anyway, photography is not allowed inside.

To be continued...

Last edited by highway_star : 10th March 2012 at 01:48.
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Old 10th March 2012, 02:01   #39
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Day 8: Hanoi (continued)


The One Pillar Pagoda

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Martial arts practice at the Tran Vu Temple

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Tran Quoc Pagoda

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Lake view

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In the evening we returned the scooter and went walking.


We attended a musical performance and water puppet show

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After the show we went for dinner at one of the roadside places.


Street food

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Street music

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End of Day 8


Next day we took a morning flight back to Mumbai via Bangkok.


Thatís all Folks!
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Old 10th March 2012, 04:44   #40
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Awesome trip and TL. Congragulations on doing something that is off the beaten path as far as tourists are concerned. Most of us would do Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia etc.

Was so inspired to do something similar till I saw someone here mention about the legalities of riding in Vietnam.

Nice photography and look forward to your next holiday.
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Old 12th March 2012, 23:02   #41
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Default Re: A bike tour of North Vietnam !!

Epilogue

As mentioned in my first post, it was this line on Lonely Planet that got me started on this journey:

ďMounting a Minsk to take on the peaks of the north is one of Vietnamís defining moments and should not be missed.Ē

Actually, we didnít quite get there. The best biking route is the far North, which is supposed to have difficult terrains and breathtaking views. We did not have time to do that circuit. There is much to be explored in Vietnam. It would probably take a month to see everything of interest.

As r_nairtvm and ramkya1 have helpfully informed us in this thread, it is technically illegal to drive there without a Vietnamese license, although the practice is widespread. Considering the available information I am not going to recommend this type of bike ride to anyone. I went there blissfully unaware of the risks, and was lucky to have had a good trip.

I do recommend a visit to this fascinating and diverse country for anyone traveling to South East Asia.

Thanks to everyone for your encouraging comments and for following this thread. This was my first travelogue on TBHP. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing it.
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