Published: November 23rd 2012November 23rd 2012
So we bought our sweet wheels – a Suzuki GN 125 – black with a red tiger on the petrol tank. We’d been checking out the internet for bikes for a few days without much luck. We wanted a slightly bigger bike than most of the bikes you get in Vietnam since two of us plus luggage would be travelling. The hostel put us in touch with Mr Minh who arranged a taxi for us to his garage where he rolled out our dream machine which wouldn’t start, had no brakes and no lights and looked like it had just pulled out of a hedge – it was love at first sight. Mr Minh insured us it would be ready in half an hour – seven hours and £250 later (including lunch, bananas and ice tea all paid by Mr Minh our new best mate) we were cruising through the streets of Hanoi – bricking it lol
Set off for Sapa (which is approx 350km north of Hanoi) the next morning with a photo copied map for half of the journey , no GPS on either of our phones, on a motorbike wed only ridden for ten minutes
and generally not having a clue where the hell we were going and to top it off the weather looked like torrential rain – this was going to be an adventure. We made it out of the city of Hanoi using a tourist map and onto highway 32 that would bring us to Yen Bi which was halfway to Sapa. Two hours in we had our first break down. Luckily Mr Minh had written some phrases for us – the first being “Please can you show me a mechanic?” – how did he know wed need that? Haha luckily everyone in Vietnam is a mechanic and after an hour or so we were on our way. Riding through Vietnam countryside is breath taking. Seeing all the locals working in paddie fields and riding their ox and carts and massively overloaded scooters with pigs, chickens – you name it they’ve found a way to put it onto a scooter (best I seen was a coffin!).
After surprisingly only getting lost once (its pretty difficult to navigate in Vietnam – virtually no road signs/numbers, and the place names didn’t match our photocopied map) we arrived at Yen Bi at
about 4 o clock which was perfect because it gets dark here about 5 and booked into a luxury room for £6! Went out for some dinner and early night!
We wanted to head early the next day, but broke down after the first 5 mins dohhh!! Dirty fuel! After referring to our new bible and its number one phrase again we got to a mechanic who got us going again after 45 mins and laughed at us when he charged us £3 thinking he’d got one over on us – (jokes on him – we’d have to pay £50 for less back home!).. again another day of riding through beautiful country side seeing sights we’ve never seen before (and will probably never see again!), waving at kids who nearly always shout “HELLO HOW ARE YOU?!!” to the white/pink (sunburn!) as we drive by, and stopping for some Hanoi beer every few hours! Amazing! The last hour we climbed 1000 meters from Lo Cai into Sapa – eye watering views (can’t believe how well our bike – “Mighty May” – fully loaded with two people and over 45 Kg of luggage coped with climb into Sapa).. but
we arrived safe and sound, not seeing any rain the whole way (actually sunburnt!).
Sapa is 1600m above sea level and when we arrived we were surrounded by thick fog and couldn’t see one metre in front. A magical mist rolls in around lunchtime every day, then back again around dinner time then again at night. We visited Cat Cat Village which is a small village with stunning scenery of rice terraces and mountainous landscape with waterfalls – the pictures (Phils stoopid Chinese phone chewed up the camera SD card so most of the photos got deleted boooo) don’t do it any justice it really is breathtakingly beautiful (unfortunately extremely touristy as well – constantly been hastled to buy buy buy!!).
On the following day we went for a ride with a few friends (Martin, Julia, Alice and Ulen - who rented motorbikes) along the Tram Ton pass which is a crazy curving road through the mountains/valleys in Sapa. Along the way we passed by cliffs, mental drops and waterfalls all surrounded by epic scenery. We were riding for around 3 hours and stopped for lunch (random chopped up meat & noodles once again!)
Second breakdown - Phil pushing up hill to Mechanics
then headed back to Sapa so the rented bikes could be back before 5pm… Martin & Julia loved it so much they bought Motorbikes when they got back to Hanoi – we’ve been travelling with them since.
Big up the N.I. masssssive!!
-Phil & Alana xx
There are more photos below