Vietnam – The Remote North and Frontier Border Area


We all meet up in Hanoi.

Eric arrived the day before and Lam earlier in the morning.

Lam sent his KTM up from Saigon on the train.

Eric and myself renting from Hung and Flamingo Travel.

Last time to rent and ride up North was 6 years earlier with Mike.

All get together and head to Flamingo. Meet Hung and his wife. It has been 6 years since we last met, but right now feels just like yesterday.

Head off to the garage nearby and check out the KLX’s. Then back to pay and paperwork.

Next beers and food. Same spot as 6 years earlier and just as good and a lot of fun.

Great to see you again Hung.

The Gang meeting up.
Same spot as 6 years earlier with Mike and Chris McBride.
What a great selection of food

YouTube

Old Quarter Entertainment


Next day up early and off out of Hanoi.

YouTube

Sunday morning, leaving Hanoi

We want to try and make the Dinosaur Backbone for late afternoon and get sunset pictures.

The garage opened early for us to pick up the bikes.

I always prefer to leave early on trips. More time to enjoy and stop along the way as well as deal with issues. Arrive early and you have early Beer O’clock.

Sunday morning traffic was not too bad.

Back paved roads out of town until we eventually get to the mountains.

Then we follow a track to the right. In between the houses and next thing you know. We are doing off-road.

To be honest, was not expecting this first day. Had to get use to the under powered KLX up the hills.

A bit of a shock when stock bike, fully loaded with me and gear. But the KLX did the job.

You have to charge at everything in first gear though.

Unlike my KLX 300 Big Bore in Thailand with Ohlins suspension. Tractors up in 2nd gear.

A few snaps along the single trail.

The trail we rode centre left next to the tree
Pop out of the trees line here
Here comes Lam
Here comes Eric
What a stunning spot.

We didn’t carry enough water with us. To be honest, not expecting this much off-road today.

We see a water pipe, water gushing out.

The water is coming straight out of the mountain rock.

Lam asked the locals if it is OK to drink.

Yes, good to drink. So we did.

Figured if we get sick. We will all be sick together.

We were all fine and it tasted great. Fresh mountain, rock filtered water.

Cooling off at the village in the valley
We were the centre of attention at this remote village.

YouTube Video

Run through the Jungle. Climb up the Mountain

Short video of the ride through the single trail and to the main road to Ta Xua.

We arrive at Ta Xua a bit later than planned.

Found a great place to sleep and good food.

Ready to hit the Dinasour Backbone in the morning.

Fingers crossed it is not all fogged in. It might mean a later than planned departure until the fog is burnt off by the sun.

Ta Xua Hills Resort
The rooms
It gets cold up here. Had my sleeping bag out too

Up Early – Off to the Dinosaur Back Bone

Such an amazing place and rough old mountain roads to get here.

The Dinosaur Backbone gets a well deserved separate report in the link below.

Local kids hanging out at the view point.

After the Dinosaur Backbone. Tarmac and some amazing terraced rice field scenery.

Not too long and we are back on the dirt.

This was a fun track. Sadly going to be a proper road through here in the not to distant future.

A few obstacles to get around
Leaning over technique
Stopping and admiring the view along the way.
What a ripper – Down we go.
What a ripper – Looking back up
Great place for a rest and swim. The water was cold.
Plus a play around on the bikes

Back on the tarmac and the scenery remains stunning.

YouTube Video

The rock stars arrived in town

This was so cute. We pulled up looking at the GPS.

School just finished and the kids were leaving. The rest you can see in the video.

The Night Riders

With all the photo’s and playing in the creek and a swim. Stopping with the kids etc..

It was well and truly dark by the time we made it to our destination.

The KLX lights were OK at night.

My old KLX light in Thailand really sucked when it is dark.

Cold and tired. We made it.

YouTube Video

Vietnam : Stuck in the Middle with You

A short video of the days amazing ride.


Phu Yen to Bac Ha

We start off with a wet day and I get a flat.

So ride through the mountains and road works to the first mechanic shop we see.

Lam did the handy work.

Don’t let the picture below fool you that it was me.

We had an audience.

YouTube Video

Phu Yen to Bac Ha

A rainy day. Not much stopping for photos.

Nice scenery and lots of fun on the muddy trails through the mountains.


Minority Areas

The area is full of different ethnic groups.

Didn’t mind having their photo’s taken either.

So many waterfalls running directly under the roads, lost count.

We had an off-road track to take. Looked like it hadn’t been used for a long time and it had been raining over night and looked pretty slick.

Save that for another time.

When I have my Vietnam KLX all tarted up for the rough stuff.

Along the paved road and more stunning scenery.

Note the road snaking around the mountain

This lovely lady saw us from up the road.

Lam looking at the GPS.

I wave at her. She smiles. So get off the bike and walk 100 plus metres to her.

Show my camera and smile. She smiles back. Took a couple of photos and showed her.

Classy lady.

That night wander around town.

Find this place selling BBQ pork. Stop and try some.

Buy a couple of Beers from up the road and sit with the locals.

The ladies start feeding me all sorts of things.

This is a rice crispy snack. Not bad.

Then Eric came along. He left and I am waiting on Lam to join.

I see a Duck being cooked, nice and fresh. Lam still not here and a bloke on a scooter comes and looks at it. Then after some discussion, leaves.

I quickly get up. Make it understood.

I want that duck and to wait until I am ready.

Five minutes later the bloke on the scooter turns up again.

He wants the Duck after all. They all laugh and point to me. Sorry, sold.

I don’t speak Vietnamese and they didn’t speak English. But we all understood and all had a good laugh.

Pork skewers – Really tasty

Lam turns up. We get some more beers and eat the Duck.

The story was told again regarding the Duck and the Scooter guy by me and the locals to more laughter.

That was the best roast duck I have ever had. EVER.

Washed down with Hanoi Beer of course.

Road side eating

Bac Ha to Hoang Su Phi

Another Minority Group in the mountains.

A market happening as well, selling buffalo a little further down the road.

Get the drone out. Still new to this.

Totally relying on the ‘Home’ function, as lost sight of it once it hit the stratosphere.

Pull off the main road to ride down the valley. So nice in here. The main traffic sits on the paved road.

We turn off the paved road and on the dirt.

This is a great track. A few drone pictures.

Strafing Passing Buffalo

Riding along and come across more minority groups harvesting rice.

Join the paved road again, not long until sunset.

Eric looking at the road ahead

A great resort. Forget the name.

Cost around 40 USD for the night.

The most expensive place we stayed yet.

Nothing wrong with treating ones self now and again.

Lam found this hot spring in the creek one hundred metres up the road at the local village.

There are two baskets dug in to the creek.

One you can sit in and slowly cook.

The other has a pipe in it. The villagers turn on the generator and pump hot water in to the village when they need it.

When you are cooked enough.

Jump out the basket and in to the river to cool off.

Then back in the basket.

I grabbed a couple of beers each from the resort.

Beer O’clock in the hot tub
Cooling off after being cooked
A tour group at our hotel parked on the left.

YouTube Video

Bac Ha to Hoang Su Phi

Another awesome day in the saddle.


Hoang Su Phi to Yen Minh

Up early the next day and off we go again.

Doesn’t get much better. Just keeps getting better and better.

Instead of following the main paved road we take the off-road track through the rice terraces.

Starts off easy enough.

Then we start to get in to the rice terraces proper.

Bottom right centre of the picture in the valley below.

This is where we are heading and not a lot of sun light left in the day.

Destination is the green rice fields at the centre of the picture.

In amongst the rice terraces.

What we came for, not just riding past and looking from the distance..

In amongst it.

We had reached a washout that was impassable. Seriously impassable.

No picture, as worried about the time and thinking we might have to go all the way back to the paved road.

The mountain just fell away.

These kids turn up and watch us. Lam chatted with them and they guided us another way down the mountain, with a passable washout.

A group photo with the kids.

The picture of the trip
What a great experience meeting these kids and getting out the rice terraces.

We took a wrong way. Lam called them (luckily he took down their phone number). We met them and they led us to the main track down the mountain.

Otherwise I think we would still be trying to find our way out of those rice terraces..

The second passable wash out.

Brillant ride through here.

In the YouTube link below, the batteries died just after the wash out. A long steep winding way to the valley below.

Light was fading fast. Made it down to the town for a welcome shower and dinner.

VIP KLX

YouTube Video

Hoang Su Phi to Yen Minh


Yen Minh – Dong Van – Meo Vac via the Lung Cu Flag Post.

The next morning. Boot repairs.

Lam found a shop with a drill, glue and cable ties as well as tape.

The essentials on any trip.

The next morning up early and a play in the creeks along the way.

No standing for me.. Not very confident on the stock suspension with the weight.
Spot the waterfall to the right
Looking at China
Drone shot
Stopped at the same spot 6 years earlier. No guard rail back then, over the edge you go.

We come accross a minority wedding. Happening right between the rocky mountains.

The girls are super shy and hard to get a good photo.

The boys are not shy and interested in the bikes.

Plus the aliens that have arrived.

We carry on through the mountains.

Just stunning views all the way.

Happiness Road

It didn’t look like a happy place to be when under construction judging by the pictures in the museum.

YouTube Video

Path from Heaven

A fun walking trail tucked in behind the Museum. We decided that it needs to be ridden.

Dong Van to Meo Vac via Lung Cu Flag Post

A wrap of the entire days ride in 4K.

Sit back and watch on the Big TV Screen.

The scenery is stunning.


Meo Vac to Ba Be Lake

An early start the next morning. BUT there is quite a bit of rain. It was chucking it down. We waited a bit then pushed on anyway.

The roads and tracks were gushing like small rivers.

Markets on the road as well as vehicles trying to pass.

One truck managed to get himself tangled in all the market canopies and everything started to fall down all around.

In the mean time. We are hiding under a big umbrella trying to avoid the torrential rain, while mayhem played out.

We started up this muddy way. A local advised us not to go with all the rain. So we followed his advice and took the paved road back to Meo Vac.

The funny thing is. I remember doing this with Mike 6 years earlier. In the rain also. But we didn’t have any one that speaks the language with us. No idea about other routes and proceeded. I remember it was very slick and took some effort to stay upright on the steep parts.

Back in Meo Vac.

The very kind shop owner served us coffee and let us dry out and warm up some what.

Take the paved road and the weather clears along the way.

Lam and I head off on the dirt for 60 plus KM before it joins up with the main road to Ba Be.

Really nice in here.

I would love to go back and have more time to stop and check out the little villages and farms along the way.

Ba Be Lake

After a wet day and wet back roads.

The last part of the day was on the dry tarmac.

The weather fined up real nice for the ride in to Ba Be lake.

The passenger boats. The bike boats are around the corner.
Lam on first
Next the mighty KLX
Selfie with the two of us on the boat.
We are sailing.
Journey over. Just before dark

Our Guest House was only a 150 metres up the road from the boat ramp.

The road is under construction and they are working on the power. No power until around 8.30 pm. That was fine. Beers by candle light after a great day.

The Guest House is owned by a minority family from the area.

Super friendly.

Cooked up a feast. So much food. We sat on the top deck over looking the lake. Our host came along with some rice whisky to share.

We arrange for breakfast on the boat and a tour around the lake early next morning. The family also own the boat.

Guest House details at the end of the YouTube Video below.

Back to shore and a ride around on the grass, with Lam performing a couple of wheelies. Before heading off to Hanoi and the end of the trip.

YouTube Video

Meo Vac to Ba Be Lake

A wrap of the days ride from flooded mountain market mayhem to a fantastic boat trip on Ba Be lake the next morning.


Ba Be to Hanoi

Bit of a hot and boring ride back after the first couple of hours. Took as many back roads as possible until we reached the out skirts of Hanoi.

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Vietnam Enduro

We managed to have some fun on the way back.

YouTube

Return to Hanoi

Back at the Flamingo Travel Garage.

Trip total kilometres over 8 days

Rocking Hanoi Friday Night in a US Army Jeep

Chris taking us for a spin in his Army Jeep
Beer O’clock with Chris

YouTube

Rocking Hanoi Friday Night

Another epic trip to Vietnam.

More I visit Vietnam the more I like it.

Next, to get a local KLX over here.

Big Thanks to Lam.. Good friend for a few years now.

We ate really well. Good when someone knows what to order and speaks the lingo. A lot easier than 6 years ago with Mike. All we had was an app on our phones and sign language.

Big Thanks to Hung (Flamingo Travel) for preparing two immaculate KLX bikes for Eric and myself.

Big thanks for Eric for being a good riding buddy and having a blast.

Flamingo Travel

Any one looking to do the following:-

  • Rent solo
  • Rent with guide
  • Bring your own bike in to Vietnam (Guide / Permit required)
  • 4X4 Russian Army Jeep Tours

Contact Flamingo Travel.

The best in the business.

No scams, no rip offs.

Honesty and pride in doing the best for their customers.

URL Below

http://www.flamingotravel.com.vn

Link to our trip from Oct 2013

Cheers

Brian