Viet Nam: mountains to the capital!

After a month in Laos, one between the Viet Nam on 22 February, by the border of Dien Bien Phu. The road on the side of Vietnamese is very damaged, that goes up and it goes down. But there are beautiful landscapes, with rice fields and other crops.

Very quickly we see that the country is richer than Laos: people are dressed in a classier way, cultures are more varied: after be passed in one of the poorest regions of Laos, the change is radical!

It's party time!

For the first night, there is a guest house: it is the celebration of Tet (new year Chinese and Vietnamese, from 19 to 26 February 2015), and the Manager of the hotel offers us some coca and a cake of rice for our meal. It is not yet known but it is the first in a long series...
It starts the morning in the mist, paddy fields all around us for kilometres, with people who work in the replanting of the strands. Lunch, we stop at a grocery store to eat a bowl of noodles in bag: because of the new year, grocery stores are pretty much the only open shops. In the House opposite, family partied and played the traditional drum. We seeing they come pick us up for partying with them. We are in the midst of some 30 Vietnamese, none of them speaks English, (re) eat, toast rice alcohol, shaking hands, dance, learn to play drum... The women are all dressed in traditional clothes. We discover that the Viet Nam physical contact is quite natural and easy: the women are not reluctant to take me by the hand, to stick in their arms. After 2 hours it was decided to leave; our guests want is still sleeping, but it is only 2 pm :). They offer us 4 rice cakes: it weighs a good kilo!

The remainder of the road is quiet enough, the bitumen is in good condition. Many people in scooter everywhere, dressed in traditional clothes, which must go or return to a family feast. It's fun to see women, who wear their helmets above the chinion on the top of the skull: it gives them an air of margin

Later we stop to admire a superb point of view. A young scooter which is where we ask to take pictures with us, trying to chat a bit. Found in the descent: he proposes to come celebrate the new year with his family tonight, and sleep at home. It is 4 p.m., it drove enough for today... banco!
Before arriving at his home, it enjoys a beautiful descent which lasts more than 10kms and views breathtaking, brief happiness.
One arrives at his home at Muong Ang where his parents welcome us with open arms. They are farmers, have a beautiful coffee plantation, a pig and 12 pigs babies (I counted them, they are too Mays), but also chickens and roosters that will not hesitate to us remind their presence all night. The toilets are at the bottom of the garden, the bathroom carved in a rock next to the House, the kitchen is adjacent to the House - or rather the common room where everyone eats and sleeps.
After a welcome tea, it resets to table: sitting in circles on the ground, we eat meat, fish, vegetables, rice... cake while cheering back to rice alcohol - and there is a sacred rhythm! They make us understand after a while it is not required to have the drink every time: I found it just too cute! We try to discuss a little with Google translate, which once more shows us his poor knowledge of Asian languages.
Family and friends pass. And in particular the great father, which did us well laugh despite himself! Why? The papi has a good descent; After a few drinks, he begins to "tell us" (in Vietnamese, but with unequivocal gestures)... the battle of Dien Bien Phu! Here it is trying to revive live and mimic this alcohol episode helping... so passionately that his wife and his grandson will eventually force the piece take it out. Guests no longer know where to put, it reassures them, our grandparents have also experienced the war. What he has lived there down had to be of traumatic...
The rest of the evening is going very calmly, continuing to Exchange as we can, and at 9 p.m., everyone in bed in the common room!
The morning, after a breakfast of rice noodles soup, it leaves after many "Thanks"... and yet alourdies saddlebags of a kilo of rice cake.
The descent started the eve continues (in all, it is 25 km downhill!), before arriving in valleys tinged the vibrant green of the rice paddies, where appear the first Mills to irrigation water.
For lunch, we find a small 'bar' where one tries to sell a bit of our cargo of rice... cake except that the Manager offers us still one when we leave!
Short, to summarize: there is a square and a half, and 8 small elongated; knowing in a meal eat 1/2 square, or 1.5 long, that the next few days it will be exclusively our food for breakfast, lunch and dinner (bah yes because it is the celebration of Tet, almost all restaurants are closed), calculate... from when it in may be more eat only it!
In short, it is still weighed down that one tackles a beautiful 12 km steep, 1000 m in altitude... during 2 h 30 with a beautiful Sun. People we look pass somewhat aghast, throw your thumb to encourage us. The view is superb. It is pretty much finally.

In the evening, asked the tent near a village. Quickly, villagers come to us: they are very curious, fun of all of our material, touch, review, help us to make a camp fire... The next morning, we just ended our breakfast a family arrives, then others still. Folding camp with a dozen pairs of eyes looking at us. It's weird at first, but now we're accustomed: the Viet Nam is the first country where, when it stops 10 minutes somewhere, a small crowd formed around us, people touch the bike, saddlebags, try to ask ourselves a few questions. It is very nice. It made some photos with the villagers (at their request) before returning to the road.
Continue to big ups and big downs. It is not always easy, there are sometimes good shots of fatigue; but we realize that it is in the mountains that we have the most beautiful landscapes.
We leave a moment the mountains, passing through Son La, a city that mark us its Communist architecture: large avenues, large squares, it gives an atmosphere really amazing, especially since everything is closed for the celebration of Tet but the next day, February 26, life resumes slowly in cities because the week of Tet ends.

When y' has a mounted... y' has a descent!

This Thursday, February 26, after a good run in plain, here again by beautiful climbers. We everywhere view fields of cane sugar.
At the top of the neck appear a succession of mountains out of sight: it is impressed to be arrived by bike! In the descent, there is a school to install the tent (with again lots of eyes watching us do). Children are very curious and full of life. Once they have reviewed everything, they return to play; also this is a trick that makes us respond: in Cambodia and Laos, children played almost no... or at least not as "elaborately".
In the morning, it is not too drag, because there is school today! We take this opportunity to do a quick tour of the classes.
Asked to fill with water, we are shown a kind of grocery store just beside. Access to climb on a pile of corn. The Lady tells Thomas a bottle, he completed 3 gourds.
She catches up to the moment of starting to ask us 70 000 dong (or about € 3); that's expensive! We are trying to negotiate, she gets excited... Thomas is suddenly in doubt, opens the gourd and the smells... the rice wine! We burst out laughing and explained the problem to the lady who laughs also. Thomas Exchange against water and it is gone!
We finish the descent to the river started the day before.

When y' has a descent... y' still has a climb!

Well Yes, after a river in general it goes back. At the beginning it's going, and then we finished the morning by 6 km and 600 m vertical drop, under the Sun. One arrives at Bac Yen at 1 pm. On guzzler of a super varied meal and the Manager offers us the homemade digestive (Eve, it had already been entitled to glass of whiskey offered after a meal). It is very good, fairly soft, somewhat like the pommel. The Lady signalled us that it offers us a small bottle. What a welcome!
All Corsica at the time of pay... to break the big tickets, it comes out a 500 000 Dong (i.e. about€ 20) for a meal that should cost about 100 000. All of a sudden, you see that reflected, then asks 350000 dong! The gift is more a. She arrives at extract US 150 000 dong, and you leave (without cylinder) well angry to have been "roll" while we felt confident.
It adds 2 climbs the afternoon under a blazing sun - who told us it's cold north of the Viet Nam? Late in the day, Phu Yen, on accumulated even 1000 m in altitude. Our legs get tired of these 1000 m of altitude change daily; It offers them a good night at the hotel to recover.
And he had to it! The next day, at 9:30, it's already 29 ° (temperature measured in the shade!), and you climb even in direct sunlight. Morale took a blow, especially because you know that you have 2 or 3 sides today. But ultimately it was the hardest, Phew!
You arrive lunch Thu Cuc, small town in the middle of tea plantations: this is the first time we see tea! It is quite beautiful, especially when it is mixed with rice, banana, papayiers and cane sugar.
After 1000 m vertical drop (again!), is looking for a place to sleep. It tells us a pagoda 6 kms further. But once there, failure! Premises do not give us their agreement to lay the tent. Night falls... Must be still 4kms at nightfall on full of gravel roads to reach a guest house... which turns everything just own. Here is a good day cyclo galley! (And more bread bought for breakfast the next day was lost!)
Wake up, it's gray, and it starts to rain in the morning. We are in the fall! We arrive in Hanoi after a day of flat road - one of those days where you feel we approach of the capital, with a little urbanized areas everywhere.
Near the capital, a Vietnamese to scooter driving at our speed and discussed in french with us for several kilometers. It's nice!
Little by little, this is the madness of scooters, some a little sports areas where you get to sneak with everyone!

Hanoi!

The menu of the week: meetings of cyclos, tourism in Hanoi, and a round trip to Halong Bay,... and the rest!

Cyclos!

-At our arrival in the city, we cross two french cyclists, for 6 months in Asia, Pascale and Marc. They invite us for dinner in the apartment they rent. On the menu: a delicious chicken cooked French, accompanied by a Vietnamese wine not degeu! It's too good! And we spend hours chatting with cyclos. Top!
-On was allowed 5 nights at a warmshower, Quynh, francophone Vietnamese - because having lived his youth in France.
We spent very good time with him. It was great to discuss together, he tells the Viet Nam from 30 years ago, the current educational system (it is University), and so many other things. Thanks Quynh of your home!
- And finally, it spent a nice evening with the Vanier: Guillaume and Servane, parents; Anatole (7 years) and Gaspard (3 years). They are on the roads for 15 months in all! They made us dream telling us their journey in South America.

A bit of tourism

We view the city over time. In this city there is a nice mix of housing type "colonial" and Communist. Lots of trees and cables everywhere, the agitation continues Street: it is necessary to think up eyes to see all the pretty houses.
We will have the opportunity during the tour made with a french student (found by the association Hanoi free tour guides). With it you will also visit Hoa Lo prison, where french settlers have been living the worst horrors for opponents of the regime. But also, more cheerful, a traditional house in the old Hanoi. Or even the beautiful temple of literature, first University of Vietnam (but today only tourist site). We spent a very good time with Quyen our young guide, to discuss our respective cultures.
During our week in Hanoi, we also liked the water puppet theatre, Vietnamese traditional theater. Very pretty!

Halong Bay

Thursday, March 5, departure by bus (eh Yes, we cheat a little!) in the direction of this mythical place. Upon our arrival, it's raining and there is thick fog. Hop, by boat. We are 12 people about the same age on the boat. Arrived in the middle of these mountain peaks in the water, it is still not very far. It segues into 1 hour kayak, with passage in a small village on the water. It is impressed by the amount of waste in the water... It's a shame for such a beautiful place! There are quite a lot of jellyfish also cooled ca from the desire to take a dip! Time rises in the afternoon, and we begin to see the grandeur and beauty of the place. It seems there are 1969 Islands in Halong, an easy to remember for the Vietnamese figure because it is the date when Ho Chi Min came to power, Savior of the party.
In the evening, we spend a good time to discuss with our guide to Cong: marriage to Viet Nam, man/woman relationships, the meaning of the Vietnamese flag. He speaks without taboo, it's super interesting!
On dort sur le bateau, c’est le luxe ! On se fait plaisir, c’est quand même notre voyage de noces ! 🙂
The next day, stroke, we will visit a quite impressive cave, where we are all one. The boat then walks us through Halong Bay where the sky is quite clear. It's superb. We returned to port after lunch.
These two days have done us much good. Be pampered, really excellent and varied meals do not have to worry about our bikes. More company Ethnic Travel selected sites away from the mass of tourists, we have all lived the crowd of Halong Bay that others were able to describe us. In short, we recommend Ethnic Travel ! (Small pub, ok, but they deserve!)

Traffic

Small course on the functioning of the Viet Nam and especially Hanoi traffic received from our host.
Traffic, it is as fluid mechanics: it's a kind of power in which we enter and out, everyone a bit at the same pace. Initially, it seemed harder to walk because crosses the stream precisely; while cycling, it is in the flow!
When there is a hole or a plate, scooters avoid: Yeah, it damaged shock absorbers!
In case of accident, it is the largest who pays: people have no interest in having an accident, then it make sure it passes and calculate the trajectories of each; It is sometimes just, but it happens! Suddenly walk, should especially never back.
Car drivers are former drivers of scooters: they therefore tend to drive the same way!

Ah and then also in Hanoi, we did our Chinese visas, carefree)It helped) !

So now, en route to China!