Tuesday, February 18, 2014

HCMC to Hanoi - 1700kms in 2hrs!

Day 27 - Sunday, December 1
Distance - ~1700 kms = 2 hrs (flight from HCMC to Hanoi)
Trip Odometer =  3291 kms (Total for trip on bikes)
Route - Up, up and away.  Flight from HCMC to Hanoi on Vietnam Airlines
Hotel -  Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel ($80 US)
Weather -  Sunny, warm and amazing.

With our route through the northern loop and then slowly south through Vietnam, we managed to ride 3291 km in total.  It was an incredible adventure that I would highly recommend to anyone.  Yes, the traffic and roads in Vietnam are crazy, but at the same time there are areas that are truly breathtaking. My advice - take your time... smell the roses, ride slow, make good decisions, cross your fingers, pray, and enjoy.

Below is our final route which includes our tracks through Ha Long Bay at the beginning of the trip.  We had a Spot GPS tracker which worked ok, but at times the tracking function seemed to lag therefore there are some straight-lined sections of our route tracking.  Below is a quick screen-shot of the route, but you can click on the link below the map to zoom into the map itself for more detailed route information.

Vietnam Adventure - Route via Spot tracking <click this link for detailed Map information.

It was a no-brainer decision to fly back to Hanoi versus taking the train.  It wasn't much more money and the flight was about 2 hours in duration (at a total of under $50/each for the flight).

We arrived back to Hanoi safe-and-sound and took a taxi to the Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel which we pre-booked before arrival.  We decided to stay somewhere different for our last couple of days in Hanoi and we chose well.  The Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel was a fair bit pricer than our last stay in Hanoi, but it was an excellent hotel with top-notch customer service and a fantastic breakfast which is included in the room price.

Amanda and I then made our way over to the Flamingo Travel Office to pick up our cash deposit that we put on the bikes before our trip.  It was there waiting for us as were our drivers licenses from BC that we also left with the rental agency.  I really shopped around with a bunch of the rental agencies in Hanoi and was very pleased with Flamingo.  I would recommend setting everything up in advance therefore you will be set to go upon arrival.

They have a huge selection of bikes which are listed on their website above, and here are a few examples on the sign below that is posted in their Hanoi office.  If you rent 'long term', all of their prices are negotiable and they provided us with a great rate on both bikes, repair kits, tubes and a cell phone for emergencies.  (I will go into greater detail with bike costs etc. in a final summary a few posts from now).

They had this shiny new CRF 250 L parked right in front of their Hanoi Office (below):

We enjoyed our time being back in Hanoi at the end of our trip.  We shopped around for Xmas gifts for family and to pick up a few things for ourselves.  We sat in cafes, watched Hanoi life-go-by and we relaxed.  We did have to hunt around Hanoi for a large duffel bag as we had acquired a few things on the trip and didn't have room in the small luggage we originally brought with us.  I managed to find a nice roller duffel for about $30, the guy was originally asking $120 - and it was perfectly suitable for us to load up for our trip home.

Hoan Kiem Lake - in  Hanoi's Old Quarter (above):

Similarly to my video in HCMC at the corner bar, I decided to shoot a quick video of the traffic in Hanoi from a roof-top cafe.  Again, no traffic lights and no rhyme-or-reason... people just go in the direction they want to go and they make it work.  Look closely for people walking and bicycling through the chaos.  Amazing.  Video below:

We made sure to stop at Bun Bo Nam Bo - one of our favourite restaurants in Hanoi's Old Quarter.  It was cheap and SO delicious.  (For x2 bowls of Bun Bo, and x2 beers, it was under $7 US)  I also recommend trying the banana-leaf-wrapped tofu (can't remember the Vietnamese name).  Delicious.

We arrived back in Hanoi in the early afternoon of December 1 and our flight out of the country was December 2 at 11:35pm.  The Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel was very accommodating to us.  We checked out of our lovely room on Dec 2 after breakfast.  After shopping around Hanoi, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon relax and they had another room set up for us for the afternoon/early evening before our departure.  We were able to relax, shower and use the room for a few hours before our airport shuttle.

The next post will include photos of our final day in Hanoi in addition to our stopover in Seoul, Korea.

Stay tuned...

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