Angus Visit 2012

Touring Saigon, Hanoi, Hoi An, and a motorcycle trip up the Ho Chi Minh Road, down to Hue, and back over the Hai Van Pass.

Angus and A - 46A Banh Xeo


Giac Lam Pagoda.


At the Ha Chuong Hoi Quan Pagoda, Cho Lon

Giac Lam Pagoda.
Ha Chuong Hoi Quan Pagoda, Cho Lon

Cu Chi


Cu Chi - AK47


Cu Chi. Ngoc, our guide and comedian, after photographing the bats in a tunnel


Saigon River Tours, the best way to get to and from Cu Chi.


Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh

Uyen and A - Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh

Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh


Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh. Mid day ceremony.


Gondola to the Black Lady Pagoda, Tay Ninh


The Black Lady.

Uyen and A - Black Lady Pagoda, Tay Ninh

Shoe Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Angus, Uyen and A - Black Lady Pagoda, Tay Ninh

At the Ngoc Son Temple, on an island in the Hoan Kiem lake, Hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple souvenir shop, Hoan Kiem lake, Hanoi

Bridge to the Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi

Buying a fan - the negotiation

Buying a fan - the demonstration

Old Quarter, Hanoi

Old Quarter, Hanoi

Cha Ca La Vong restaurant, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Old Quarter, Hanoi

Refreshments vendor (i.e. beer) and the Lao Cai train

Sapa market

Sapa market

Sapa market

Black Hmong awaiting tourists outside the Hmong Sisters bar, Sapa
Angus with our Black Hmong "escorts". They were actually a great help when descending a few slippery slopes, but got ample recompense when it came time to sell us stuff.

Walking across a water race, part of a small hydro power project.

The Tay hawkers were less demanding than the Black Hmong...

Some members of the Tay minority join the entourage.

A translation of the translation of the "give a man a fish..." wisdom.
...and smiled more.
This Hmong lady threatened to follow me around until I bought something. Her single tooth grin was the stuff of nightmares so I gave in, not without a bit of bargaining though, which we were getting quite good at by this time.
Our tour leader.

Early morning.

Inside the homestay.

The homestay proprietor preparing breakfast.

Inside a Hmong family house in the Cat Cat Village.

Cat Cat Village residents.

Sapa lake.

Got to be good for you.

Ham Rong Mountain. If I ever have a garden, its going to look like this.

This was the first time in Vietnam that I had seen a stream with clear water. Near Cat Cat Village.

Ham Rong Mountain.

Ham Rong Mountain. All the signs of the Chinese zodiac were represented. Angus with his.

Ham Rong Mountain. Our triumphant tour leader.
Ham Rong Mountain.

She should have been working, but was more interested in practicing her English.

View over Sapa from Ham Rong Mountain.

The Lizard Restaurant. Sapa. Suspicious looking plant out the front. Hemp plants were very common.

...and played pool till (too) late.

Later that night we ended up here...

Ta Phin Village.

You cannot get away from Hello Kitty.

Ta Phin Village.

Any free moment is used for sewing or embroidering.

Ta Phin village.

Lao Cai. The buildings in the background are in China.

Directions to the Perfume Pagoda.

Entering the Huong Tich Cave in the Perfume Pagoda complex.

Huong Tich Cave

Huong Tich Cave

An altar in the Huong Tich Cave

An altar in the Huong Tich Cave

Huong Tich Cave. Inner temple.

Huong Tich Cave

Huong Tich Cave

Thien Tru Pagoda

Thien Tru Pagoda in the Perfume Pagoda complex

It was very hot, and the beer bought from these vendors was very welcome.

Electric motor repair shop. Old Quarter. Hanoi.
Very different to Saigon Pho, but very good.

The most authentic Hanoi Pho.

Old Quarter. Hanoi.

Preparing Bun Cha, a Hanoi speciality.

Hoi An. A lot of tourists, but still a very beautiful town.

Hoi An

Hoi An

Japanese Bridge, Hoi An.

Hoi An
Hoi An
Hoi An

Hoi An

My new favorite hotel in the world... the Nhi Nhi Hotel in Hoi An. These are three of the staff seeing us off as we left for the motorbike tour.

First stop, abseiling. This is Angus at the top of the 25 meter practice descent.

Does seem a long way down!

Inside the cave at the bottom of the 57 meter drop, a pagoda.

Made it.

Angus descending inside the cave.

First stop. Getting used to the Minsk by this stage.

This wasn't arranged, and way off the tourist trail, so we were the subject of some interest.

A Ca Tu burial sight.

We stopped at a Ca Tu village. The Ca Tu are the ethnic minority in the highlands west of Hoi An.

Remote, but still have the satellite TV.

Photo by Angus.

In the community house.

Rice wine! Yes!

Then a thunderstorm took out the power.

First night we stayed in Prao. It rained. Heavily.

Luckily we had a good supply of rice wine. Don't be fooled by the bottle.

Ho Chi Minh Trail.

First breakdown - a broken throttle cable.

Ho Chi Minh Trail.

At the turnoff to the section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that used to run through Laos. We stuck to the Vietnam side of the border.

This part of Vietnam is so rugged that no-one lives here, so the Americans never bombed or agent oranged it. It was spectacular scenery. For me it rivalled riding over the Haast Pass in the South Island of New Zealand.

A crystal clear mountain stream.

Waiting for the mechanic to catch up after the incident.

Looking over Hue towards the mountains we had just emerged from.

A Lao sticky rice restaurant in Hue. Distinctly different from the taste of Vietnamese food.

Best not think about what's in the buckets.

La Rue girls. La Rue is a local beer, and they are trying to get people to drink it. Seemed more appropriate to drink Beer Lao though.

We were invited to share their bottle of rice wine.

Hoi An

The guy who showed us around Hue knew his history, and was quite a comedian as well.

In front of the Hue Citadel.

At the Thien Mu Pagoda. This guy guards the entrance.

Knowledgable, and animated.

Learning the art of making incense sticks.

Incense. Hue.

Perfume River near Hue looking west.

Wartime bunker in the background.

Had lunch at a buddhist monastry, a way to bring in some funds to help troubled children. Really delicious vegetarian food.

Introduced as a fortune teller, though she wasn't very good at that. But she was a character and told us some good stories of her colourful past.

Near Hue

Dinner in Hue. Angus, Tony, and the smiley vodka vendor.

Along the coast south of Hue. Looking west from Tu Hien bridge.

Old border gate and wartime bunker at the top of the Hai Van Pass. Note the blast damage and bullet holes.
Border gate at the top of the Hai Van Pass, once dividing the Dai Viet and Champa kingdoms.

Looking down on the Hai Van Pass. I wanted to turn around and ride it again.

Danang in the background.

Bunker at the top of the Hai Van Pass.

Danang. Getting tired and sore.

Back in Hoi An

Hoi An

The route of the motorcycle trip (in red). Started at Hoi An and headed inland towards the Laos border (in yellow), up the Ho Chi Minh Trail, then east towards Hue, then down the coast, over the Hai Van Pass, through Danang, and back to Hoi An. 4 days, about 600 km.

The artist who produced a lacquerware piece I bought.

Jade Emporer Pagoda. Photo by Angus.
Cu Chi - AK47. Photo by Angus.
Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi. Photo by Angus.
Le Pub, Hanoi. Photo by Angus.
Our "First class" cabin on the Lao Cai train. Photo by Angus.
I wish I had bought a pair of those gumboots. Photo by Angus.
Our "escorts" and the tour leader in the Muong Hoa valley, below Sapa. Photo by Angus.
The homestay in Ta Van village. Photo by Angus.
... and didn't stop even when we settled down for a beer at the homestay in Ta Van village, about 5 km later.
Ham Rong Mountain.
My sign. Photo by Angus.
The Lao Cai train back to Hanoi. This time we had to share the first class cabin with a Dutch couple. We bumped in to them a week later in Hue. Photo by Angus.
Photo by Angus
Huong Tich Cave, inner temple. Photo by Angus.
Huong Tich Cave
Photo by Angus
The last 5 metres was an overhang. Photo by Angus.
Starting the 57 meter descent into the cave. Photo by Angus.
Nearly there. Photo by Angus.
Photo by Angus.
Tony, our tour leader, on the left.
Photo by Angus.
Photo by Angus.
End of the first day. Arrival in Prao. Checking email. Photo by Angus.
Photo by Angus.
The Guest House where we stayed in Prao. Photo by Angus.
On the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Checking email again. Photo by Angus.
A road side sign indicating part of the route we followed. We turned east at Phu Vinh and descended from the highlands towards Hue.
What sort of look is that? Photo by Angus.
Lunch stop.
Hoi An. Photo by Angus.