On the way in the north of Vietnam

Table of contents

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

On the way in the north of Vietnam

On the way in the north of Vietnam

On the way in the north of Vietnam

On the way in the north of Vietnam

27 pictures

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

1/27
A lot of interest for the travelers, not only in the rural gas station at Moc Ha.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

2/27
The warmth of the people is incredible.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

3/27
A Vietnamese shepherd in the bay at Ngoc Dong.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

4/27
Normal: Rice cultivation is laborious, time-consuming manual labor.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

5/27
Water buffalo are replacing tractors.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

6/27
The temples are colorful and richly decorated.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

7/27
Encounter at Nam Dinh: The bike is well-tuned.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

8/27
Road quality in North Vietnam: from good tar to the worst dirt road.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

9/27
Animals are also simply strapped onto the scooter.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

10/27
The endless expanses of Vietnam offer a special travel option due to their diverse landscape. Here the slope between Moc Chau and Ta Niet.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

11/27
Heavy goods vehicle: This moped throws itself into the chaos of Hanoi.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

12/27
East Asian style temples are also not to be missed in Vietnam.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

13/27
The spirit of Ho Chi Minh is alive: socialist propaganda everywhere.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

14/27
Top: The Honda GL 160 was a reliable companion.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

15/27
Difficult to find: technically good, real motorcycles like Anh Wu’s.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

16/27
Other bikes need additional dampers.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

17/27
Contrasts, curves and hardly any traffic: road 113 west of Bac Yen.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

18/27
Medusa head: The 110 also fits five.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

19/27
The Honda cannot manage steep slopes like here at Ban Pho.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

20/27
This is how fishermen live in Halong Bay – James Bond made this bay famous.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

21/27
Two different worlds meet at Doan Ket.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

22/27
Motorbike ferry across the Da River: pretty wobbly.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

23/27
Vietnamese transport everything on their mopeds.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

24/27
In addition to rice cultivation, tea cultivation is an important source of income.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

25/27
The old quarter of Hanoi doesn’t seem so old due to the many modern influences.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

26/27
The barge on the Da River lies on a natural dry dock.

On the way in the north of Vietnam
Breakable

27/27
Even the smallest traders benefit from economic growth at a low level.

to travel

On the way in the north of Vietnam

On the way: Vietnam
On the way in the north of Vietnam

If the smaller escapes in Europe are no longer enough, the wanderlust gets too big, maybe the jump to Vietnam will help: no tourism in the northwestern mountains, mysterious routes, friendly people and a rusty rental bike.

Markus Biebricher

06/10/2010

A cave-like side street, hardly lit, dirty, narrow. The handover should take place here. Shadows move in the doorways, cockroaches scurry across the black floor, the air is stuffy between the moldy walls. Mister Anh Wu is waiting, the contract in hand. He points casually to a two-wheeled heap of junk. Rusty, scruffy, dented. “We do not value optics, but reliability.”

The age and performance of his Honda GL 160 Pro are in the dark. It may have toiled as a workhorse for over twenty years, the four-stroke single-cylinder had been revised with parts from Indonesia, Chinese pistons were no good. With an estimated power of 14 hp, the motorized Klepper, named Rosinante, should open up the north of Vietnam to Claudia and me. Except for Mister Anh Wu, none of the bystanders seems to believe that this mission will be a success, but the confidence of its owner radiates on the old machine. After a few practice kicks it starts and sounds mechanically less chaotic than expected.

Buy complete article

On the way in the north of Vietnam

On the way: Vietnam
On the way in the north of Vietnam

10 pages) as PDF

€ 2.00

Buy now

But if the term chaos applies to anything, it is traffic in Hanoi. Here life takes place on small motorcycles: Millions of 100 to 110 cm³ Hondas, Yamahas, Syms, Loncins and other Japan, Korea or China bikes whiz through the soot-laden streets in four-stroke cycles, flanked by Russian two-stroke Minsk. Trucks, buses and cars share the flow of mopeds with tyrannical fanfares, with cyclists, hawkers, rickshaws and death-defying pedestrians in between. It is fought at a millimeter distance, who backs away has lost. Often the bathed feet of bikers touch each other, even on the highway out of town, vehicles shoot across our lane and expect an emergency stop.


On the way in the north of Vietnam


Breakable

The barge on the Da River lies on a natural dry dock.

Anyone who thinks our Honda is loaded should see the machines that plunge kamikaze-like from the numerous markets into the pulsating seven million city. They transport loads for which you would rent 3.5-ton trucks from us, deliver cupboards, coffins, beds, chickens, dogs, pigs or fish. It is understandable that something like this sometimes requires two additional struts. Even the space in front of the driver is filled up until he can barely steer. Those who do not transport goods like to travel with the whole family: babies are squeezed between dad, mom, daughter and son.

The courage to take a gap remains the order of the day when we have already left the periphery of Hanoi behind us. Rosinante wants to be kept happy. In fifth gear, it briefly reaches 100 km / h, which corresponds to almost 11,000 rpm and feels like breaking the sound barrier. Otherwise 40 to 60 things are the rule. Exceptions are the SUVs of the party officials, breakneck intercity buses and ruthless trucks.

We are navigating southeast, want to catch an old junk that is supposed to sail us through the famous Ha Long Bay and serve as a hostel for the night. To do this, we have to let Rosinante run, switch gears frequently, perceive movements from the corner of our eyes, be wide awake. Nam Sach, Sao Do and especially Dong Trieu are lively, colorful towns, but coal is mined in the area around Mao Khe, which is noticeable because both the place and us are covered in a black layer thanks to drizzle and coal dust.

The hustle and bustle of tourism in the port of Ha Long can only be understood when you see the bizarre rocky landscapes during the junks cruise. Not only were sea battles fought between the islands, which are part of the world cultural heritage, but James Bond films were also filmed. Above all, however, the Tongking incident, which is still controversial to this day, took place here: On August 2, 1964, boats of the North Vietnamese coast guard are said to have shot at the US destroyer USS Maddox. The conflict was the trigger for the devastating Vietnam War.

Out and about in Vietnam: Part 2


On the way in the north of Vietnam


Breakable

Motorbike ferry across the Da River: pretty wobbly.

In the currently more peaceful times, the woodworms, whose destructive action we listen to while lying in our bunk at night, are likely to have a devastating effect on the remaining existence of our old junk. Rosinante, who now always jumps at the first kick, seems happy to be able to carry us the next day via Hai Phong, Thai Binh to Nin Binh, where the landscape of the “dry” Ha Long Bay stimulates the imagination. From now on we no longer meet other tourists.

It can’t be because of the motorcycle that children keep running towards us and “hello, hello” to shout. In their eyes, as well as in the eyes of adults, there is an elusive friendliness, a childlike interest that gives travelers a feeling of welcome and security. You don’t feel greed for money anywhere outside of the big cities, life seems happy and uncomplicated, but in reality it is subject to complicated structures made up of religious, traditional and social elements, hardly tangible for us Europeans.

People don’t have many good experiences with strangers. Before the US troops marched in, Vietnam had to endure French colonial rule from 1887 to 1954, which is still reflected in the architecture and place names to this day. Nevertheless, almost no one speaks English or French, but the communication via sign language works extremely well. This is even more evident on road number 12 b, which turns out to be an entertaining connection to the northwest. At a market we have breakfast between water-filled potholes, the scenery looks almost African, just like the further course of the piste, which sets Rosinante’s spring legs in tribal dance-like oscillation rhythms. When the weather clears up, she gets a shampoo wash in a small town, while her crew is warmly welcomed into the village life.


On the way in the north of Vietnam


Breakable

The Honda can’t manage steep slopes like here at Ban Pho.

In Trieng Xeu, hunger drives us into a dark dugout on the side of the road. I have to smoke the traditional bamboo pipe and drink rice schnapps with the owner while his wife serves us soup, the contents of which are better not to speculate. Men dressed in old uniforms diffuse out of dark corners, report with abundant gestures about the atrocities of war, show tattoos and mutilations. All together sing a hymn of praise to the father, Ho Chi Minh, who founded the communist party, liberated Vietnam from the French, reunited and supported many traumatized people. Finally, the landlord sticks a plaque from Big Ho on my chest and gives me his passport so that we can stop by him on the way back. For nothing in the world does he want it back, so when I say goodbye I have to secretly slip it to his wife, who exchanges jewelry and hugs with Claudia. While the suffering of the American Vietnam veterans is reported again and again, one learns next to nothing about the Vietnamese Vietnam veterans. Many of them, too, can only endure their lives in the intoxication of alcohol and opium, as we should learn on the further journey.

This now leads us into the mountains towards Mai Chau. The first passes have to be climbed and the areas of ethnic minorities from the Muong tribe have to be crossed. They build their houses on stilts, in clothing and appearance they are reminiscent of Peruvian Indians. Hordes of school children come towards us between the villages. Many Vietnamese consider learning to be a virtue to strive for, and schools are just as common along our route as the pompous, local administrative buildings of the Socialist Unity Party, which remains powerful thanks to economic growth.


On the way in the north of Vietnam


Breakable

This is how fishermen live in Halong Bay – James Bond made this bay famous.

Between Moc Chau and Son La, Rosinante takes us to remote regions of the north-western mountains. When the inclines are more than ten percent and the pass heights approach 2000 meters, Rosinante often has to go back to first gear because the speed drops too much in second. In addition, the front brake slackens. Often we now pass artistically landscaped rice fields and farmers who plow their fields on steep slopes with water buffalo. In Bac Yen, we roll out in front of the first motorcycle workshop that we come across. The brake lever can now be pulled up to the handlebars, but brake fluid was not included in the spare parts package that Mister Anh Wu had carefully added to our luggage.

The local master leaves his work. While he is driving to get brake fluid, I am again hogged down by a visibly retarded veteran. The rest of those present take care of Rosinante’s chain, tension it and give it a bath in old motor oil. In general, one becomes a witness of mechanical talents everywhere. Oil changes, welding work on broken cardan shafts, engine and gearbox overhauls, all of this is easily done right where the breakdown occurs, even if it causes permanent near-accidents.

While the sun slowly turns red as a milky disc in the sky, we curve through a picturesque river landscape. Houses floating on the water, naked children at the edge of the hardly car-wide street, pot-bellied pigs, water buffalo, chickens, geese, dogs, bamboo, bananas, sugar cane, exotic fruits. Again and again people laugh out loud when Rosinante chugs past or crosses the river in a dug-out ferry. Images like from another time, like from a dream from which we only wake up when, after 2000 kilometers, which feels like 6000 in Europe, we get caught up in Hanoi. Already two hours before the center the chaotic traffic is like a strangling line around Rosinante, she has to fight wildly honking her horn in order not to be swallowed up. Mister Anh Wu is already waiting grinning in the dark cockroach alley.

Infos about Vietnam


On the way in the north of Vietnam


Drawing: archive

Travel time: 14 days – Distance covered: 2000 kilometers – Capital: Hanoi – Area: 331,690 km2 – Founding: 938 AD – Currency: Dong – Population: 87,300,000.

A trip to the north of Vietnam is different from traveling to Thailand or Laos. There is hardly any bike tourism, the experience of the country and its people gets under your skin.

General:
After sixty years of French domination, Vietnam was conquered by Japan in 1941 and divided into communist North Vietnam (capital Hanoi) and western-backed South Vietnam (capital Saigon) in 1945. It was reunited with the USA in 1976 after the war. The city of Saigon was named Ho Chi Minh City after the head of state of North Vietnam. The mountains in the northwest show captivating nature, but you can still see the damage caused by the environmental toxins used by the USA in the war. There are still many mines in rural areas. Most of the ethnic minorities are cut off from development in the country. The socialist Republic of Vietnam is ruled by the Communist Unity Party, which exercises power through the Central Committee and Politburo. There is no private property in Vietnam. The state grants land use rights for 50 years.

Motorcycling:
The traffic in and around the capital Hanoi is extremely dense and chaotic. Good nerves are helpful. Overtaking is ruthless on the main roads, high daily averages are impossible. A small-volume motorcycle is therefore sufficient, it even increases the intensity of perception. Small side streets guarantee little traffic and a lot of driving pleasure. Nevertheless: people, animals and potholes require alert senses. The Honda GL 160 costs $ 140 for a week, and an XR 250 costs around $ 240. Offroad Vietnam Motorcycle Rentals is a recommendation. Information is also available at www.motorbikevietnam.com.

Rental:
Vietnamese live on and with their mopeds, almost everything up to 110 cm³ large Honda Cup developments. Those scooter-like vehicles with manual transmission and centrifugal clutch can also be rented cheaply anywhere. They cope with all transport tasks, are robust and reliable, but visually none “right” Motorcycles. They are rare in Hanoi, especially as rental bikes. Anh Wu provides a remedy. He maintains a Honda fleet, consisting of enduro bikes such as the XR 250 or road machines such as the GL 160 used by the author: the air-cooled, 160 cubic single-cylinder develops 13.8 hp at 8500 rpm, weighs 114 kilograms, has a kick starter and five-speed gearbox. A real motorcycle, great for Vietnam. Info: www.offroadvietnam.com

Travel time:
The best time to travel to North Vietnam, which is climatically different from the south, is from November to May. In December and January in particular, the temperatures are pleasant and the usual rain showers are a little rarer. Basically, however, Vietnam (temperatures from 20 to 35 degrees) is one of the rainiest areas in the world. The humidity is also high outside of the rainy season (May to October).

Literature / Maps:
travel Guide: Dumont Vietnam, 24.95 euros, (www.dumontreise.de).
map: Travel Know How Vietnam North, scale 1: 600000, 8.90 euros. Sufficient for the basic planning, exact maps are available in Hanoi.

  • Vietnam

    to travel Vietnam Vietnam In the middle Lively chaos is nothing new in Southeast Asia – to experience it in Vietnam, on the other hand, is. After two…

  • North Cape

    Johann to travel North Cape North Cape The other way Just don’t listen when they tell you again that the long journey to the North Cape is not worth it….

  • North Hesse

    to travel North Hesse North Hesse In the middle Do you fancy the mountains? But the Alps too far? Then off to the Kassel mountains. Simply great routes,…

  • Factory visit to HJC in Vietnam

    Breakable 20th pictures Breakable 1/20 MOTORRAD visited one of the largest helmet manufacturers in the world. HJC stands for affordable, but high-quality…

  • Motorcycle tour – the north of Chile

    Markus Biebricher 14th pictures Markus Biebricher 1/14 Communicative: break at the trucker bar in the middle of nowhere Markus Biebricher 2/14 Evening…

  • Motorcycle tours through Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia

    shepherd 13th pictures shepherd 1/13 Motorbike tour through North Rhine-Westphalia. Sauerland and Bergisches Land are biker hits. shepherd 2/13 As a good…

  • Motorcycle tour Peru – from south to north

    Markus Biebricher 15th pictures Markus Biebricher 1/15 In Peru, one of the most diverse countries on earth, you can commute between the extremes. More…

  • Motorcycle trip – with Honda to the North Cape

    Honda to travel Motorcycle trip – with Honda to the North Cape Motorcycle trip – with Honda to the North Cape Makes a dream Go to the northernmost point…

  • On the way: North Sea tour

    Daams to travel On the way: North Sea tour On the way: North Sea tour An ocean liner on its way to the sea When the smoky voice of Rod Stewart scratches…

  • MOTORCYCLE tour tip – Dolomites North

    Tour tips Exclusive motorcycle tours for children to follow Presented by Jorg Kunstle to travel MOTORCYCLE tour tip – Dolomites North MOTORCYCLE tour tip…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.