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Thursday, 7 August 2014

VIETNAM SOLO RIDE: HO CHI MINH CITY (SAIGON) – DA LAT – NHA TRANG – MUI NE – HCMC (1060KM)



28 November 2013

I actually combined Vietnam with a visit to Gui Lin, China which I did first for 5 days. Then I took a train from Gui Lin to Nanning, and later changed to another long distance overnight train (12 hours) from Nanning to Hanoi.

Nanning - Hanoi overnight train

I hv to walk approx 1km fr the train station to
the airport bus stand in the wee hours of 4am


In the beginning I had thought of renting a bike in Hanoi and ride all the way south to HCMC. However, this would had taken at least 12 days and I didnt hv that much time. So, I made up my mind to fly from Hanoi to HCMC and start my ride from there. I rented a Yamaha YBR 125cc bike from Flamingo Travel which costed me USD25 per day. I purposely chose a guest hse to stay near the rental company’s office (about 1km to Ben Thanh), so that I didnt hv to ride far from the office to my GH during my first orientation to HCMC’s chaotic and madness road users.


I started my ride early the next morning to avoid traffic. My destination for the day was Da Lat, a mountain resort town, some 310km away from HCMC. It wasnt very difficult to find my way out as I had studied the map the night before. Traffic started to get heavy when I’m nearing the suburb of HCMC. When I’m entering a toll plaza, I saw sign posts showing types of vehicles and some numbers next to it. I thought that motorcyclists had to pay toll, but when I followed the flow of bikes, it was not the case at all. There were times that I had to ride on motorbike lane, and at other times on the major road of Highway 1. It was quite tough and challenging to cross a junction as the road users seldom follow the traffic light during peak hours. I had to brave myself and just follow the flow. Definitely, riding in HCMC is not for the faint hearted. You had to hv bug’s eyes since u must watch for traffic coming not only in front of u, but from the sides, and back as well (if possible). It seemed as if traffic rules didnt exist here. Everyone was rushing to get to their destinations and they just didnt gv a damn about other ppl. It was quite hectic and tense for me to get through the vehicles. Only when I had entered route 20, the traffic lessened and it was a much easier ride all the way to Da Lat. Along the way, I passed lots of rivers and I could see some houses built on the water. 
Isi minyak dulu...


I was stopped once by policemen who claimed that I had oversped, which was true. But as usual, I played dumb tourist and just said sorry repeatedly. After a while they let me go. Since then, I dare not ride more than 60kmh (speed limit for small bikes) when entering small towns as I noticed that patrol cars will be awaiting simply to catch those speeding over the limit.

Make sure which category u r in
Very soon, the climbing to Da Lat began. It was quite stressful as there were lots of lorries which I need to overtake on the narrow winding road. After riding for approximately 7 hours, I finally reached the mountain resort town and checked in to a hotel which I had booked earlier.


30 Nov 2013

I woke up a bit late this morning. I felt sooo lazy to leave the very comfy bed of my hotel room which unbelievably costed me only USD10 per nite with wifi facility, LCD TV, mini fridge, attached glass wall balcony and a guest kitchen. Soooo damn cheap.

USD10....only in Vietnam lah


My today’s activity was just sightseeing around Da Lat, which was originally the playground of the French who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast and of HCMC. The city center was quite small and felt very urban, concrete, and patches of streets and buildings were in disrepair or construction. However, outside of the small urban center was a spacious landscape of well kempt and pretty hotels, cafes, restaurants, and lakes peppered among the rolling green hills and pine trees to offer tourists an escape from city life. After breakfast, I walked to Cho Da Lat, or Da Lat market which was filled with local specialities such as highland fruits and veges. Strawberries, strawberry product, fruits conserves, avocadoes, cabbages, cauli flowers, tomatoes and many more were sold very cheaply here. I bought 1kg of strawberries and really had a blast!!! 







RM4 / RM5 / RM7 per kg, depend on quality

No worries, she wont sting :)


I walked back to my hotel to cook lunch as its difficult to find halal food around. In the afternoon, I took a walk to Xuan Huong lake, which was located near the center of Da Lat. This man made lake was filled with tourists and locals 
enjoying the breeze. However, I felt quite chilly as I was not properly dressed. I took the opportunity to taste barbecued corn and sweet potatoes while people watching on a bench by the lake banks.





That night, I went to Da Lat night market to enjoy the night view of this resort town.





1 Dec 2013

I checked out after breakfast and made my way out of Da Lat. It was not difficult to exit this town, however, I had to ride on an off road on and off for quite a distance. The traffic was pretty heavy as it was peak hour then, and everyone was sharing the same narrow and winding road. After about 5kms, the traffic lessened and it was a smooth and enjoyful ride on an unnumbered secondary road. My destination was Nha Thrang, situated about 220kms away. There were less traffic on this secondary road and no cop waiting to catch u oversped, so I got to really enjoy a 150kms of winding mountain road ride which offered really spectacular views. I saw a very high waterfall emerging from the cliff limestone walls. However, the steep road didnt offer much opportunity for me to stop the bike for photography sessions.  Sigh.....










There were also beautiful rivers and green green paddy fields to enjoy.....






Finally, I arrived the junction to the major road of Highway 1. After riding for 3:30hrs, I reached Nha Thrang (pronounced Nyeh Chreng) and checked in at Truong Giang GH.



In the evening, I visited a famous church nearby and lazed by the beach, watching huge waves hitting the sands. Bliss.....





At night, I had dinner at a local seafood restaurant. I had crab cooked in tamarind sauce and a barbecued fish. The price were quite pricey compared to in Malaysia, but the taste was very good as the crabs and fish were really fresh.







After dinner, I went to the night market, not particularly buying anything, but just to let time passed by.



2 Dec 2013

This morning, I decided to take an enroute via the airport and coastal road heading south. It was proven that this road really offered great view of the ocean. The ocean down below and the rocky mountain on the other side of the road reminds me of Croatian Dalmatian coast & Adriatic Sea.





It was a great ride today as I was riding along the coast all the way south, so I got to enjoy ocean view on my left hand side, and paddy fields on my right hand side along the way.






Drying rice grain by the road side
 There were lots of stalls selling dragon fruit and I took the opportunity to buy some. It were really cheap and sweet.



The road condition was not very good though – pot holes, bumpy and drainy, with lots of lorries, but it was still tolerable.


Finally after riding for 250kms, I reached Mui Ne and checked in at one of the guest hse scattered along the beach. I really loved this place as my room was only 30m from the very beautiful beach. There were lots of surfers doing flip flops and showing their awesome skills on the 4 meters high huge waves. What a spectacular view!!!




In late afternoon, I went to the fishermen village to witness their lives and enjoying sunset view. Walking along the beach where clams had been ridded of their shells for many years, so the sands on the beach was by now substituted with littered shells, I saw ship-wharfs and fishermen sorting out their catches. It was a very pleasant sight. 







3 Dec 2013

I woke up early and rode to the fishermen village again to see the fishermen making their way to the sea. I really enjoyed watching them. Some sailed on big boats, some on smaller ones, and some only in small floating baskets. I wonder whats going to happen if the basket toppled after being swept by huge waves of the South China Sea.





After that, I rode to the famous red sand dunes of Mui Ne. The whole region was fairly sandy, with orange sand threatening to blow onto the coastal road in some spots. The dunes also offered nice view of the sea coast to the north. I spent about 30 minutes here.






Later, I rode further to the white dunes. It was amazing to think of this small town which had both red and white dunes, and a mini canyon. Unfortunately, I couldnt find the canyon as there was no sign post at all. The road was very deserted and there was no one for me to ask for direction. Since my motorbike was running low on fuel, I had to turn back.





After checking out, I rode on the same Highway 1 heading south to HCMC. The road, as usual was filled with lorrries, besides motorbikes. There was one time that I nearly collided with another motorcyclist as the latter sudddenly switched lane without signalling. This kind of behavior wasnt something new for me as I had experienced quite a number of emergency situations for the past few days, but none was as close as this one. I almost fell from my bike when the tyres skided after I pressed the brake real hard. I was so angry with the guy. Stupid fool :(


I was hoping that I could reach HCMC before 5pm as the road will be damn chaotic then. Fortunately, I arrived around 4pm and I didnt face much trouble to navigate my way to the bike rental company’s office to return the bike. I was sooo relieved that I managed to complete my ride without any trouble, fall, accident, punctures, break down or damage to the rental bike.

With the owner of the bike rental company
Yummylicious bihun sup at a muslim restaurant near Ben Thanh...RM10

As usual, this ride was filled with great memories, challenges, new mistakes done and new lessons learnt. Thank you Allah for making the ride smooth and enjoyful for me. 

Next....Philippines ride...





NASTIA

Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')