Ha Giang Adventure Tours

Motorbiking through the Mountains

The next day we tried to get to Ha Giang - this was a long day to say the least. We went entirely the wrong way, and ended up off-roading down a mountain track.

Tom's 110cc really got put through it's paces. The Partridge Mobile, as we named it (honouring it tackling a steep hill or rocky dirt-track with a rendition of "Alan Partridge" to the chorus of Hallelujah) was burdened with two pannier-bags carrying Tom's stuff, the weight of us both, and my 65 litre backpack. At points it really struggled, but after a puncture, a broken kickstart, a flooded battery because we drove through a river, and a petrol crisis in which we had to sit and wait for a passing motorist to fetch us a litre of petrol half-way up a mountain - we made it. Our first night of the trip was spent in a really small village called Bang Lung, where we were invited into someones home and were not allowed to leave until we'd proved our worth in shots of rice wine. The next day we set off for Ba Be national park, a beautiful mountainous area surrounding 3 connecting lakes. We did some trekking and stayed in stilt houses next to the lake.

The next day we tried to get to Ha Giang - this was a long day to say the least. We went entirely the wrong way, and ended up off-roading down a mountain track, going round in circles, breaking the bike twice, this was also when we ran out of petrol - needless to say we didn't make it to Ha Giang. Instead we spent the night in Bac Lao, another nice small town. The next day we hit the highway for a much smoother ride to Ha Giang. Ha Giang is a much bigger town, put still very much off the traveler trail - we had lost the phrasebook and dictionary so in all these places it was difficult to get by. We met a student from Ha Noi called Duy visiting his family whilst I got my hair cut (and got rid of the terrible excuse for a beard) who spoke very good English. He invited us for some drinks and barbequed beef skewers, and as is the etiquette in Vietnam, would not accept a penny towards it - as happened with breakfast the following morning, or the drinks we had whilst he showed us all around Ha Giang and the mountains. We were really lucky - he was so generous and took us to places we would otherwise never have known about, such as a huge local outdoor swimming pool on the outskirts to escape the mountain heat. We managed to take him out to dinner that night as a thanks, explaining this was British etiquette. On the first night I'd realised I had a dilema - my visa ran out on the Wednesday. I had 2 days to get right back to Ha Noi, then across to a Laos border crossing, with no idea how, on a journey that had taken us four days just from Ha Noi.

Thankfully Duy stepped in and took control - he was going back to university on the Tuesday, so he picked me up by taxi and took me to the bus station. I got the bus to Ha Noi with him, and once there he took me to meet the students he lives with, and his girlfriend invited me to dinner with her family, which was delicious and a really lovely evening. Afterwards Duy took me to the bus station and I got a bus to Vinh, then from Vinh I said "tạm biệt" to Vietnam, and crossed the border to Luang Prabang in Laos, where I am writing this. In total I was on a bus for 33 hours, one 9 hour and one 24 hour, with an hour break in between. I was sleeping on sandbags and beer crates, but I got there! Luang Prabang is beautiful, very relaxed city, I am push-bking round today and maybe going on some treks tomorrow.

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