Boyz to Vietmen

4 Friends Motorbike from South Vietnam to North Vietnam, from Boys to Vietmen..

Ride Back to Hanoi. Poor Eoin.

Shiate day for Eoin.

He lost most of his clothes for the trip when the bag of laundry he just had cleaned fell off his bike on his way back to the hotel. After retracing his steps almost immediately, it was nowhere to be found. What these people would want with a bag of used clothes that wouldn’t fit three of them together I have no idea. We figured they would have sold it back to us on the side of the road, but no dice.

After getting our spirits up with some coffee we headed back to Hanoi, our final destination for our bikes. About 60 Km outside of the city, Eoin’s Honda Bonus finally gives in. We flag down a truck that will take his bike into the city and go to our hotel. Eoin agrees to 200,000 dong (10 bucks) and we head in. Naturally, the truck drives away so quickly that we don’t have a chance to follow and we lose it.

Rob, Adam and I finally make it to the city in the night time and after pulling around a corner see Eoin at the side of the road with the truck guys. They say they won’t go into the city until 8pm and so they are stopping for dinner. They invite us to join and wait. So we do.

Meanwhile, Eoin fills us in on his trip. Apparently, the truck guys pulled over about 10 km outside of Hanoi and told Eoin that the 200,000 dong was to get to this point and it’ll be another 200,000 to bring the bike to the hotel. After some resistance and some bluffing, Eoin agrees and they set off. Now we had to have dinner with them. But all was well, and we can all see that 20 bucks is probably a more fair price. Every five minutes, throughout the entire meal the truck guys kept cheers-ing us saying it’s all okay and trying to make amends. It’s not personal, just business.

So we were off once again and back to a hotel safely. Rob managed to find a nice one too. Two king size beds and a decent breakfast in the morning.

Ha Long Bay, Here We Are

What a beautiful place this is. Some of the strangest rock formations that I’ve ever seen. Like mini-mountains jutting out of the water. I can’t think of what caused this to form in the past but the Vietnamese have their own explanations:

According to local legend, when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. -Wikipedia

This place is incredible and the tourism that it garners represents that. There are a ridiculous number of junks (Vietnamese boats) in the bay that are doing tours very similar to what we’re doing. It’s the most white people we’ve seen since getting to Vietnam.

We signed up for a tour of the bay in a boat. 2 days, 1 night. We spent the first day checking out some caves and then doing kayaking and the second was just cruising around the bay and heading home. The guy we signed up with seemed legit at the time but when we got to the boat it turns out he didn’t sign us up for the “Superior” boat that we paid for, and instead signed us up for the “Normal” boat. The boat was still quite nice but we paid about 20 bucks extra to get a little nicer boat and didn’t get it.

Regardless, here’s a quick vid to show what the experience was really like.

Ride to Ha Long Bay

Whilst on the overnight bus, we were convinced by the bus staff that it was better to get off in Hanoi instead of Ninh Binh and then ride to Ha Long Bay from there. They said the road is better and the timing would be better.

Ninh Binh is where the road forks on the way north so if you head northeast you’d end up in Ha Long City and if you head northwest you’d end up in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi. Originally, we were going to get off in Ninh Binh at about 4:30am when the bus rolls through there. It would still be dark so we would have to wait about an hour and a half for the sun to rise before we could ride anyway. Plus, the bus guys would have to put our bikes back together in the dark and it would hold up the rest of the passengers.

Even though the road from Ninh Binh to Ha Long Bay is a coastal road with less traffic and much pretty scenery, we all agreed to get off in Hanoi and make the trip from there.

Once we started riding though, we ran into a couple troubles. Adam’s bike was put together incorrectly by the bus guys. They forgot to attach a spacer for the front wheel axel so the wheel kept bouncing left and right as he rode. He then had to deal with a couple of the worst mechanics we ever have had to deal with on this trip or in life. They refused to understand the issue and started replacing his ball bearings and cleaning his brakes. Frustrating.

Shortly after getting that fixed we stopped for lunch and just as Eoin pulls his bike up on the sidewalk a small electrical fire breaks out in his dash. We let it cool for lunch but it flamed up right away when he tried starting it. Luckily, there was a truck mechanic right across the road so he rolled it over there and they took a look.

They ended up rewiring much of his electrical system and so Adam and I took off without them to reach Ha Long and setup the arrangements for our boat tour. Rob and Eoin showed up in Ha Long about an hour after.

Overnight Bus From Dong Ha to Ha Noi

In order to see Ha Long Bay (the eighth wonder of the world) we needed to make up some time. So reluctantly, we all agreed that we’d take an overnight bus through the middle part of the country with our bikes and then ride from Ha Long Bay to Hanoi to finish the trip. Looking at the guide book (thanks Jules and Chris) there doesn’t appear to be much to miss along the middle part – it’s mostly desert with very little towns to stop for sleep and mechanical help. And so the overnight bus adventure began.

The DMZ

It was Sunday in Dong Ha and we were looking for a tour guy to show us the DMZ tour spots on our motorbikes. Of course, we were found within minutes on the side of the road by the same guy that accosted us on the first day when we were trying to find a hotel. Constantly tapping us and telling us that he knows and he’ll take us and blah blah blah. I hated this guy. I admire his persistence, but I can’t stand his approach. We were looking for a legit guy or company to take us around.

That being said, it was Sunday and all the proper tour companies were shut, so it looked like we may have had to follow this guy around as a backup. Luckily, we ended up in the DMZ cafe who gave a call to a guy named Mr. Binh. Super nice fellow and a sheer 180 degrees from the guy that was harassing us.

He spoke great English and was a great sport. He took us to all the spots we wanted to see and stopped at a few others spots of interest as well. He was honest about some of the ‘tour spots’ saying that the tanks and helicopters had largely been removed by locals looking to sell the scrap metal and that there was really nothing to see there.

Besides the road up to these old American bases being quite phenomenal, the two big things we saw were the Khe Sanh base and the Vinh Moc tunnels.


If you’re keen on doing a tour like this, give Mr. Binh a call at 0167 989 2437