I’ll start off by saying, getting there was not easy.
If Google Maps tells you you’re good to drive down a road, there’s a 75% chance you’re not. This has happened to us quite a few times on our trip. Also, every now and then we glanced at the map only to see that the road didn’t even exist. Unfortunately this scenario happened in reality for us, as you can see in the photo above. One second a smooth road, next minute gone.
If we had dirt bikes this would of been a piece of cake (and heaps of fun). Unfortunately, with a Detech ‘Honda Win’ and a Yamaha Taurus, there was no chance. Also we needed to sell our bikes, so getting them clogged up probably wouldn’t of been the best idea.
We backtracked an hour which was a bit of a pain, but the mountain drive was incredible. I also got to practice my turning skills, so it wasn’t wasted time at all!
A couple of friends recommended that we stayed in the Old Quarter as most things are there. As we got closer to Hanoi it began to get very busy. Not as busy as Ho Chi Minh, but pretty close. It was nice to be back in a touristic area after being on the road for so long.
We stayed in a hotel called Box Hotel. The only thing we really knew about it, was that it was the only place in our price range that had room for us. So when we arrived to see the hotel rooms were actual boxes, we were quite surprised. Luckily for us, we love watching Tiny Houses so this was right up our street. The only thing I wasn’t too keen on, was sharing a bathroom. The hotel was really clean though and there were quite a few bathrooms, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.
Throughout our time here, we drank a lot of coffee and made the most of the fantastic restaurants in the area. Coconut coffee from Cong Caphe is one of my favourites I repeatedly visited. Cong Caphe is a cafe chain in Hanoi that you have to go to if you’re a coffee lover.
A King Roti is also a must try whilst in Hanoi. They are only 25,000 VND each (50p) and are sooooo good. They are kept warm so the filling is kept runny… just be careful you don’t take a big bite and drool chocolate all down your front like I did.
I love Asian food and whilst travelling I try to eat like a local as often as I can. However, I am terrible at using chopsticks so I venture with my food but not from my utensils. My favourite Vietnamese meal I have eaten whilst here is a Banh xeo, which translates to sizzling pancake. It’s basically a crispy rice batter pancake, filled with usually chicken and shrimp with bean sprouts and vegetables. With this meal, you are also given rice paper to make rolls out of the filling. If you are in Hanoi and looking for a good place to try this, The Green Farm restaurant makes a really good one.
With a heavy heart, I had to sell my beautiful Yamaha, Yammy. Yammy was such a fantastic bike and so reliable but unfortunately I couldn’t take her with me. So off she went on another adventure. A lot of people buy the Chinese copy bikes here but I wanted something reliable and I’m so glad I did. I only lost $100 after selling and never had to take her to the garage once. Well, other than for a service and that time I got a flat tyre, no fault of Yammy’s though.
We lasted one day without a bike. We weren’t fans of walking everywhere and wanted to get out of the city, so we decided to rent a bike for a day and a half to explore Hanoi a little more. We rented a Chinese copy Lifan which was basically brand new so ran pretty nicely.
I am so glad we did this. We saw that there was a national park an hour and half ride away and thought we’d check it out. I find sometimes when you don’t plan your trip too much, you have a better time than if you did. Whilst exploring Ba Vi national park, we stumbled upon the ruins of a church. There was something quite eerie about it and the way the trees had taken over made it look even more so. A very valued religious building neglected and in ruins, it was so creepy but so cool. So cool in fact, that a group of photographers arrived to do a photo shoot.
We also stopped by the wreckage of the American B-52 which was shot down in the war and untouched. I love the way that there is a tree growing out of the wreckage which you can see in the first image. I would add a metaphor here to describe the scene but I think the image is powerful enough to speak for itself.
On the weekend, the town closes a lot of the roads for the markets and street performers. A lot of locals use this time to take their dogs out to socialise. I guess some people like to do things a little differently though…
This cat was actually very well behaved on the leash. I don’t think she was a huge fan of it but she walked alongside her owner perfectly. She even socialised with a dog half her size.
After a few days in Hanoi and our bikes successfully sold, our trip was complete. This trip has been tough but I have really enjoyed it. It was definitely a challenge and I’m really proud of myself and Mitch for doing it. My favourite place has got to be Hoi An and I plan on going back there again at some point. I will definitely get another suit made there as well.
I will write a separate blog post for tips I have learned a long the way soon for anyone interested in the challenge. My biggest tip that I will write in this post, is to get a reliable bike. I love my bike for getting me from one end to the other. Most importantly, I rode it in confidence and will look back at it fondly, rather than pissed off that I had to keep taking it to the garage.
Thank you Yammy. Next stop, Bali.