I went to Vietnam with one purpose. To buy a motorbike and travel this country completely by my own. Well, I landed in Hanoi without any expectations about the city. But it surprised me. It was different than most of the Southeast Asian cities. Vietnamese capital with almost 8 million of the population had a nice old quarter that offered French colonial architecture, rich food culture, and a long history. The other thing that surprised me were very cheap hostels. For 3 $ per night you got breakfast AND happy hour with free beer from 6-7 pm.
There are many sidewalk vendors that just put their stuff on the sidewalk so you can not pass them and you have to deal with crazy traffic full of motorbikes, bicycles and some cars.
After 2 days of wandering in Hanoi – I bought a proper motorbike and on Sunday at 5:00 am I started to move out of the city. I went that early because I was afraid of my poor manual motorbike knowledge I won’t be able to handle all the traffic. After all, I still don’t have a driving license for motorbikes.
Ha Long bay
After my first 5 hours of driving, I arrived to the Ha long bay with already my first pain in the ass. The place is interesting because of the rocks facing out from the sea. There I took some agency to the 2 days Ha Long Bay trip, but for me the most interesting part was the floating fishing village that was not part of the trip.
So I woke up at 5:30, moved to the place where we stopped with the boat day before and asked around who could give me a trip around the floating village. Just after few minutes, I had »my personal water taxi«.
For thousands of years, people are living there. Most of them are of course fishermen and tied to the ocean. They have build boats and floating homes that provide their shelter, their transport, and their culture. They can tie their homes to their neighbors or they can move away from them don’t like them anymore. They own no land, only the boats that provide their way of life.
There are surprisingly a lot of dogs on some place that doesn’t even have a real ground. You can even see vendors going in the morning from house to house with their boat to sell all the stuff that they could need.
Mu Cang Chai
Undiscovered gem it was written on one map in Hostel in Hanoi. Google didn’t tell much about it. I had time so I decided to go there on my own to check it out! I found out it is a rural place full of rice fields. It was perfect for my motorbike to check every place I wanted to. I ready got along well with my motorbike already. For me, it was a real gem. For 3 days I haven’t found a person that spoke English. Yes, usually Vietnam is quite crowded with tourists.
My next stop after Mu Cang Chai was Mai Chau. Another rural province full of rice fields. To get there everyone recommended me to take a road that I already drove while getting to Mu Cang Chai. I didn’t want drive on the same road again so I took the route that nobody recommended me. It leads through a village that disappeared after one big rain.
Bla bla bla
Next: Sapa and Ha Gian