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12th January 2017

Vung Tau Trip

I just got home from a three day trip to Vung Tau (about 90 kilometres south of Saigon) which is a popular weekend "Beach Escape" for residents of Saigon. I went during the week to avoid the crowds (and to get cheaper hotel prices) and that certainly succeeded as there were very few people around and almost no traffic - it reminded me a lot of how Nha Trang was when I first visited in 2010 (before the hoards of Russian tourists started coming). Vung Tau's main beach (Front Beach) is OK but nowhere near as good as Nha Trang, they also have a sheltered beach (Back Beach) that is calmer and not as windy. I rented a motorbike from my hotel and covered a large portion of Vung Tau.

Vung Tau is not that easy to get to as it has no commercial flights and no train service. I flew to Saigon from Nha Trang and got the fast ferry to Vung Tau (200,000 vnd) which takes about 2 hours and was quite relaxing. I decided to get a minibus back just for the experience (90,000 vnd) and it took more than 2 1/2 hours with lots of traffic and road works and it only goes to the main bus terminal on the outskirts of Saigon so I had to get 2 more buses to get me into Saigon and to the airport. I am fairly sure I will visit Vung Tau again and I will take the fast ferry both ways.

Vung Tau Front Beach - Tide Out    Vung Tau Front Beach - Tide In    Vung Tau Back Beach
           Vung Tau Front Beach - Tide Out                    Vung Tau Front Beach - Tide In                            Vung Tau Back Beach                 

Vung Tau Beach Road
Vung Tau Beach Road

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7th January 2017

The Great Central/Northern Trip

In keeping with the idea that I will have a trip per month (Vung Tau this month, Phu Quoc next month) I am planning a motorbike trip mid March from Nha Trang to Dong Hoi coming back on the train. I have booked all the hotels (at an average price of $20.50 AUD/night - $15 USD) - which includes breakfast at half of the hotels and one hotel is rated five stars - "Mr. Cheap") - Day 1 Nha Trang to Tuy Hoa (126 Klms) - day 2 Tuy Hoa to Pleiku (221 Klms) - Day 3 Pleiku to Quang Ngai (245 Klms) - Day 4 Quang Ngai to Hoi An (116 Klms) - Day 5 Hoi An to Hue (130 Klms) - Day 6 Hue to Khe Sanh (133 Klms) - Day 7 Khe Sanh to Phong Nha (233 Klms) - Day 8 Phong Nha to Dong Hoi (45 Klms) - Day 9 Train from Dong Hoi to Nha Trang (795 Klms).

The route is a combination of coastal and mountain roads and covers 1249 Klms on motorbike and 795 Klms on the train.

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25th December 2016

Back Home - Nha Trang

Back home in Nha Trang after my 4 day "Coffee Trip" which covered more than 550 klms. The ride down the mountains from Dalat was cold and wet - it rained almost all the way to Nha Trang - and there is a major storm across the Philippines that is heading this way. I had a rest stop at Com Khan Le and had a Banh Mi Op La (Baguette with 2 fried eggs) and a wonderful coffee - I was cold and wet.
The road is a disaster area with numerous landslides, washouts and potholes - the road was in excellent condition in September when I last rode to Dalat - the continual heavy rain has made a mess.

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23rd December 2016

Dalat

Still in Dalat spending the night at the Gold Star Hotel and all is well. I went on the Dalat Countryside Tour today and it involved visits to a Flower Growing Farm, Highlands Coffee Plantation, a Silk Worm processing plant, Elephant Waterfall, Linh An Pagoda, a Cricket Breeding business and Dalat Railway Station.
I did a couple of new things today - I had a cup of Arabica Weasel Coffee and also ate some Crickets.
I will be riding home to Nha Trang tomorrow and the weather forecast is good.

Marigolds    Highlands Coffee Plantation    Coffee Bush
                              Marigolds                                      Highlands Coffee Plantaion                               Ripe Coffee Cherries                          

Coffee Cherries    Sleeping Weasel    Silk Worms
                      Coffee Cherries Drying in The Sun                               Sleeping Weasel                                       Silk Worms                                            

Elephant Waterfall    Inside Vietnam Pagoda    Happy Buddha
Elephant Waterfall                                   Inside Linh An Pagoda                                         Happy Buddha    

Breeding Crickets    Roasted Crickets    Dalat Railway Station
      Breeding Crickets                                          Roasted Crickets                                 Dalat Railway Station    

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23rd December 2016

Dalat

I have arrived in Dalat after a torrid 200 klm plus ride from Buon Ma Thout. The first half of the trip was OK then once at the top of the mountains the road quality dropped dramatically with many rough areas and large potholes everywhere. It took about five hours including a coffee break at about half way - my body is still vibrating from all the bouncing around - you probably don't have to be crazy to do this trip on a motorbike but I am sure it helps.

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21st December 2016

Coffee Trip

Tomorrow I am taking my motorbike on a trip to the main coffee growing areas of Vietnam. Travelling from Nha Trang (hopefully the rain will have stopped) to the Dak Lak region, staying in the capital of the province, Buon Ma Thuot, overnight - 185 kilometres. The following day I will travel from Buon Ma Thuot to Dalat - 210 kilometres - and again stay overnight. Then on Saturday I will return to Nha Trang - 135 kilometres.
I have no set plans and am just going for a ride. I have been to Dalat several times and usually buy coffee when I visit.

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18th December 2016

Back Home in Nha Trang

I am now home in Nha Trang (and it's still raining) after a great trip to Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay. I already have bookings for a trips to Vung Tau (south of Saigon) for a couple of days next month and a four day trip to Phu Quoc, a Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia, in February.

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16th December 2016

Sapa & Halong Bay Trip (Day Four)

This morning I went Kayaking with the group - we travelled further than I thought we would and the trip included going "Through" one of the Halong Bay islands. After the Kayaking the head chef gave us a fruit carving demonstration and we all got to make fresh spring rolls.

The balance of the trip involved cruising homeward and simply enjoying the view. The entire trip was excellent I can highly recommend it - Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay

Kayak Halong Bay    Floating Minimart    Halong Bay Cruising
         Kayaking Halong Bay                                Floating Minimart                                      Halong Bay Cruising               

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15th December 2016

Sapa & Halong Bay Trip (Day Three)

The trip back to Hanoi on the overnight train was a bit rough and I only got about 30 minutes sleep. After a quick breakfast I caught the minibus to Halong Bay to board the V'Spirit Classic Boat for two days of cruising. The boat has sixteen large cabins, a dining area, an outside covered seating area and an upper sun deck.

The first day was spent cruising Halong Bay, a visit to Sung Sot Cave (a large cave within one of the islands in Halong Bay) and some time at Ti Top Beach. The food on board has been amazing with many courses for both lunch and dinner (dinner consisted of pumpkin soup, fried spring rolls, stuffed crab, oysters, prawns, rice and vegetables with fresh fruit for desert)

Halong Bay - Leaving Harbour    Halong Bay    Halong Bay Islands
Leaving Halong Bay Harbour                                   Halong Bay                                                Halong Bay Islands      

V'Spirit Cruise Boat    Sung Sot Cave    Ti Top Beach
V'Spirit Cruise Boat                                           Sung Sot Cave                                            Ti Top Beach         

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14th December 2016

Sapa Trekking (Day Two)

Thankfully for my leg muscles the second day of trekking was quite a bit easier than the first - We walked from the Sapa Vista Hotel down to Cat Cat village of the Black H'mong people. The remains of a French Colonial power station consisted of large waterwheels very similar to bicycle wheels. We then walked on to Sin Chai, a village located at the foot of Fansipan Mountain, which is the highest mountain in Vietnam at around 10,000 feet.

Cat Cat Village    Cat Cat Village    Cat Cat Water Wheels
Cat Cat Village

Colourful Clothes    So - Our Tour Guide    Me and So
       Colourful Hand Made Clothes                               So - Our Tour Guide                                   My New Girlfriend            

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13th December 2016

Sapa Trekking (Day One)

I am in Sapa for the first day of my Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay trip. Arrived early this morning after catching the overnight "King Express" train from Hanoi - breakfast at the hotel and then 12 kilometres of trekking visiting a couple of local villages - firstly Lao Chai village of the Black H'mong people and then on to Ta Van village home of the Dzay minority people.

It was a good day but the first half of the trekking was quite difficult - very steep (up and down) slopes with wet muddy patches and also a lot loose rocks etc. and very uneven. Despite the fact that I walk a lot I found it hard because of the steep uneven surface.

Tomorrow is more of the same although our guide said the trek tomorrow will be easier:)

Sapa Vista Hotel    Valley in Front of Hotel    Sapa Valley River
    Sapa Vista Hotel                                The View From My Room                          Sapa Terraces and River

Sapa Trekking Group    Trekking Sapa    Sapa Terraces
Sapa Trekking Group                                       Trekking Sapa                                             Sapa Terraces      
 
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