I have now made it into Vietnam after waiting for 2 hours to get through the epic immigration line at the border crossing and to top it off it was pissing down so I got absolutely soaked. Once across the border I instantly noticed the people are much nicer and friendlier. When they say hello its not followed by them trying to flog me some crappy trinkets I don’t want. I made a new friend called Ng Eng Lun on the bus from China. He was a student script writer from Hong Kong and spoke enough english for us to just about converse, it as his first time travelling outside of China and he was quite shy. Being shy he would not haggle when buying stuff. Everywhere in Asia tourists always pay more than locals but the first price they give you is always ridiculously inflated. Ng Eng Lun would just pay it! I showed him how it was done!
When we arrived in Hanoi it was obvious the place was made to accommodate backpackers it had a great vibe about the place and for the first time in 3 months I could see western people everywhere. At our hostel they had free beer for 2 hours every night! So I spent a few days in Hanoi drinking cheap beer and socialising with some brilliant people until I had my fill of hangovers. I also found out that I could buy a motorcycle for $250! An Aussie guy called Brok who was also staying at my hostel was going to buy one and head south. Our visa’s expire on the same dates and we are both heading south and I have been longing to hit the road on a bike since the last time I was in India. So fate sealed it and the day after we bought our Honda Win motorcycles we hit the road heading south out of Hanoi.
There are 2 roads that head south through Vietnam they are the Highway 1 which is heavily congested by trucks but runs the length of the coast so offers some great ocean views when your not choking to death from the diesel smoke bellowing from the truck that is about to run you into a ditch. The other is the Ho Chi Min road that is the less travelled of the two that goes more inland through mountains and national parks. The only problem with the Ho Chi Min road was that there were less towns or cities to stop at for somewhere to sleep so the journey would have to use a combination of the two roads.
The first day of the ride went pretty well and we made it to Ninh Binh with no real problems, the roads were well surfaced and the traffic wasn’t anywhere near as chaotic as India. Ninh Bin didn’t have much to offer apart from somewhere to sleep for the night and a bustling night market. The local speciality food was goat in this town so we headed out to a restaurant recommended to us by the guy from the hotel. We eventually found the place as the gigantic sign of a goat with massive testicles hanging out the front was a bit of a give away. looking forward to a good feed of some succulent goat meat after the long ride we ask the guy in the restaurant for some of the goat. ‘no sorry we don’t have goat’ he says to us! Why the hell would you have the biggest sign ever of a goat with biggest bollocks ever hanging out the front if you don’t have any!