Vietnam | The video

OK… the video mainly consists of earlier videos put togehter in one video file. BUT… I am very proud of the intro, so check it out 🙂

Trip statistics

Scooter kilometers: 2312
Falls: 4 (Maarten 1 times, Armand 2 times, Louis 1 time)
Dongs taken from the ATM: about 168.000.000 (and some credit card payments)
Number of scooter repairs: 9
Helmets broken: 2
Food stands wrecked: 1
Amount of top tips done from the Lonely Planet: 12 out of 16
Cheapest hotel: $ 4 per person
Most expensive hotel: $ 113
Cheapest Pho: 20.000 Dong
Most expensive Pho: 69.000 Dong
Amount of visited temples: too much +1
Arriving in the dark: 8 times (it gets dark here about an hour to early)
Airplanes: 5
Trains: 1
Ferries: 5
Boats: 3
Traffic fines: 0
Suits: 14 (4 decent suits, 5 party suits, 5 Santa suits)
Longest waiting time: 2.5 hours (for a ferry that eventually did not arrive)
Christmass slings on Armand’s scooter: 20
Amount of sleep by Roel in planes and train: 0

Day 22 | Saigon and going home

Just before going to the airport

Just before going to the airport

This morning we packed all our bags and prepared for flying back home. Knives and wine in the big bags, packing bag around back pack, souvenirs and sweater in day pack, etc.

After breakfast we returned to the indoor market to buy the last of the souvenirs and to see fresh new tourists, being driven in bus loads at a time and get overcharged for everything they buy. It’s clear our way of traveling thought is the normal prices in Vietnam, which makes bargaining much easier.

Next is relaxing on the terrace, returning the scooter papers and the long travel home after a very verdy good vacation!

What will be the next adventure?

Day 21 | Saigon

Today it’s 32 degrees and sunny. Just to let all the readers know what you are missing 🙂

My brand new “safety guaranteed” helmet broke in the plane. So we’re not taking baseball cape helmets as souvenirs. Armand’s bottle of Dalat wine did survive the plane travel. So logically seen it should be safer to duct tape a couple of bottles of wine on your head, compared to wearing Vietnamese helmets.

Street market

Street market

We chose to take a relaxed day and do the Saigon walking tour (you have to do something without a scooter) suggested by the Lonely Planet. The tour was udated a bit by us to have multiple pit stops at nice terraces. Armand played some Plants vs Zombies on each terrace. We saw a lot of the intersting sights here. The local indoor market, street market, People’s Committee Building, Opera House, Post Office and the Reunification Palace (with lot’s war pictures and preserved other stuff). I am now officially war-tired. People that start a war are idiots. We ended the day (and our last evening in Vietnam) with dinner and bar hopping, it was difficult to find bars without hookers, but we managed. For dinner we selected the Barbecue Paradise. Barbecues integrated in the tables, decent meat, great evening.

 

Busy traffic in Saigon

Day 20 | Hanoi and Hanoi – Saigon

Temple

Temple

Today we first went to the Ho Chi Min mausoleum and parc. The mausoleum was already closed. It’s a big building. After that we checked out the Temple of Literature, probably the oldest thing we saw here. At first it was a temple, but soon it also was a university. The yearbooks were big stone slates with the names of the graduates carved in. The area included some temples, so by now I am officially temple-tired. They all look the same, lot’s of fake gold and Bia, copied dollars and other gifts offered to the gods. Next was the Hoa Lo Prison, first, more than a century ago, used by thue French, later by the Vietnamese. A bit too much propaghanda, but still impressive to see. This concludes our tour of Hanoi. Back to the hotel, pick-up our scooters and luggage and to the train station. It took some time before Maarten’s scooter started, but no problem, this is the last ride. We took the touristic route to the train station, where, after some arranging, we left the scooters and after a long wait got a cab to the airport. From the cold Hanoi, 13 degrees, cloudy and some rain, it’s off to Saigon, 26 degrees at night :). Around midnight we arrived at our hotel, with only one cockroach in the hallway, crappy internet, a missing window in the bathroom and not too clean towels (but that’s normal). Sounds like a normal Vietnamese hotel and perfectly suitable for two days in Saigon. Now it’s time for some nice-weather-enjoying-time at a bar close to the hotel. Tomorrow we will do some touristic sight-seeing in Saigon.

Day 19 | Perfume Pagoda

Today we did a daytrip to the Perfume Temple, close to Hanoi. But first breakfast.

The best Pho ever….. NOT
According to the Lonely Planet the best Pho of the entire country is sold at the fast food franchise Pho24. As experienced Pho testers we of course have to check this statement, because Pho quality is a serious matter. We ordered a couple of different Phos, to make sure we have a good sample testing. Our verdict: the most expensive Pho in the country was absolutely not the best of the world. To be more precise, all other Phos had a more outstanding taste. The Pho of Pho24 is ok, but really average, not bad, always OK, but never the best in the country.

Perfume Pagoda

Day 19 route - route to Perfume Pagoda

Day 19 route - route to Perfume Pagoda

It was raining and the drive up to the Perfume Pagoda was absolutely not interesting. So the decision for a taxi was easily made. After one and a half hour we arrived at the sight. Of course some woman pointed us at the wrong direction right away to sell a trip on her boat. Five minutes later we arrived at the real entrance gate, with the irritating woman following us, to convince us not to buy an official ticket, but to join her trip. A couple of minutes later, with official tickets, a boat was assigned. The boat was not really OK for us five guys and the woman rowing the boat. Each wave or move in the boat was a potential risk of getting water in the boat and sinking. After an hour of sitting motionless, in too tiny seats, synchronised moving (checking the time, scratching, etc), getting cold and having huge respect for the rowing womans speed we arrived at the Perfume Pagoda. The pagoda is named after the Parfume River, which says nothing about the way it smells. First we visited a huge temple complex. After a cable car, that had to open specially for us and some Italian tourists we arrived at a huge cave. The cave was also a temple with altars and offerings. We were more interested in the geological parts of the cave. Cool cave, nice trip.

Belgian beer

Beer storage room

Beer storage room

Hanoi has a Belgian beer pub, called SBB, short for Special Belgian Beer. Reason enough for us to go and check it out. We had the taxi from the Perfume Pagoda drop us of there, paid the 1.5 million and were ready to go. Unfortunately the pub was gone. But soon we found another one. They only had Chimay and a terrible atmosphere. One beer later we left, checked online and found out SBB had moved. One taxi ride later we arrived at the new location. Great pub, OK food, storage room dedicated to all the nice Belgian beers served here, nice atmosphere and a great beer menu, including extensive descriptions, more staff than guests, staff was all smaller rhan 1.50 meter. When in Hanoi… go there.

Before sleep Armand played some more Plant vs zombies.

Vietnam traffic rules

Note: probably the government of Vietnam has an official set of rules. These are to be considered as street customs, as experienced by us.

Maximum speed: not applicable

Signs: not certain, we cannot read Vietnamese and are uncertain if people follow the signs.

Lanes: People drive on the right lane. If there are multiple lanes in the same direction, cars drive as much as possible to the middle. Same for trucks and buses. Scooters and moter cycles drive more to the right. Cars, buses and trucks overtake right or left of other cars. Scooters and motor cycles overtake each other also on the right and left and cars mostly on the right, but sometimes on the left, if there is more space there. This all sounds a bit chaotic, and it is.  But it’s also quite easy to get used too, after a day or two we were driving also like this and that’s important, because road crossings also work in this chaotic style. Vietnamese tend to overtake whenever possible. Buses tend to overtake always, also when not possible. Other vehicles just have to move, and believe me, you will move for a bus, they will stop for nothing. That’s probably why the Lonely Planet is talking about the kamikaze bus fleet drivers.


Crossing a street in Vietnam

Priority: The bigger your vehicle, the more priority. So we always give way to cars and trucks.

Horns: Horns are used in Vietnam all the time. When taking over, when you see somebody drive in a spot you want to drive in, when you see 5 Dutch guys on scooters and some people just use the horn all the time to make sure they never forget to use is. Horns are a bit louder here than normal. Scooters and motor cycles have normal car horns. Cars have truck horns. Trucks and buses have ferry ship horns. If you here a ferry ship horn on the road, be sure to drive as far to the right as possible.

Busy traffic

Busy traffic

Traffic lights: The traffic lights in Vietnam have counters that count back until the next light switch. This is excellent! You always know how long to wait. OK, some Vietnamese don’t care about a red light and always continue driving, but most will actually wait. Green means go. Orange means go. The first seconds of red means go. Still red, but a couple of seconds before green means go.

Helmets: each and everyone driver a scooter or motor cycle is legally required to wear a helmet. A helmet can be any kind of helmet, including but not limited to construction helmet, mountainbike helmet (most safe I’ve seen here) or baseball cap helmet. The baseball cap helmet is nothing more than a hard plastic baseball cap and by far the most popular helmet, because of all the trendy designs and the fact it’s not looking like a helmet. Because my previous helmet broke, just by wearing it, I bought a baseball cap helmet, others don’t fit. A baseball cap helmet will set you back an incredible € 2.

We try to blend in the traffic as much as possible, but still try to drive as safe as possible. The way we drive here, if we continue like that at home, we would get fined (or worse) for  at least all of the following, on a daily basis:

  1. speeding
  2. driving without a drivers license
  3. overtaking on the right side
  4. overtaking in the same lane
  5. overtaking when forbidden
  6. driving next to each other in the same lane
  7. not using the indicators
  8. using the horn without any direct danger
  9. parking when forbidden
  10. driving on the emergency lane
  11. parking on the emergency lane
  12. ghost riding
  13. driving without an approved helmet
  14. driving on closed roads
  15. running a red light
  16. driving through road works
  17. driving without approved mirrors
  18. improper functioning lighting in the dark