Tomorrow morning we leave for our motorbike tour of Southeast Asia. We hear great things from just about everyone who has done it, or wished they had. We have procured our Laotian visas and are packed and ready to go. We spent much longer in Hanoi that originally planned with no regrets. We have said our goodbyes and as we sat at dinner this evening, we couldn't help but feel bittersweet about leaving. Shelly even said that it seemed like we were leaving home for a trip. (even though we are on a trip). I feel the same way. We are going to miss the wonderful city of Hanoi and surrounding area.
Mosaics On the Highway in Hanoi
It's actually hard to leave this city full of culinary delights and controlled chaos. From the busy "Old Quarter" and it's congested narrow streets to the mosaic lined outer belt of the city, traveling by motorbike has been both frustrating and exhilarating. From the fantastic creamy coffee espresso drinks to the warm people who stare and smile as we either sit at a cafe watching the world go by or drive by on a motorbike, we are going to miss Hanoi.
Viet Motorbikes - Hanoi, Vietnam
We have both bought motorbikes. Mine is a Honda Dream and Shelly's is a Honda Wave. Mine however is a cheap knockoff made in China, and we figured Shelly should have the better built Real Honda manufactured in Thailand. I put some work into my bike over the last couple weeks. new ultra-strong gas-charged shocks, new front end, new front and rear brakes, new clutch and piston rings. I have dubbed my bike the Dream Machine. Total cost of the new stuff.... 160 dollars! Amazing!
Shelly's Wave has been dubbed the Tidal Wave, and it didn't need as much work as mine, but we did put new front and rear brakes, full service and new rear shocks on her bike. We both put new tires as well. Our pal "Viet" at Viet Motors hooked up bikes at a fair price, and also built us some custom racks for our packs for free. His website is http://www.vietmotorbikes.com. I tipped the man who built our racks about 35 dollars US, which is nearly a month's wage for some here. He was happy and so were we with his workmanship!
Thanksgiving this year was ok. Nothing traditional about it. We had dinner with Scott, Ashley, and two new friends named Matt and Ani. We could have went for the traditional stuffing and turkey, but opted for sushi. We all said however, that we had missed having pumpkin pie. Other than that, Thanksgiving was rather bland, it really didn't feel like a holiday at all. The sushi was good for Vietnam however.
Bia Hoi with Friends
Ashley's Birthday Dinner
We had dinner with Matt, Ani, Scott and Ashley earlier in the week with 6 other English teachers that work with Scott and Ashley. Matt, John, Linda, Myriam, Kristin, and Brian were their names. Great people and good fun! It was Ashley's birthday dinner which took place at a Bia Hoi which specializes in homemade beer and traditional Vietnamese food. We ate Pigeon, Goat, and a menagerie of other less exciting yet delicious dishes. The Bia Hoi has homeade beer they brew that is dirt cheap, and the food is cheap too.
We probably had 10-15 dishes inall, sharing and picking from one plate to another. Wonderful making new friends and having such interesting conversations. Buddha was a hit too. He was there, and we had him doing tricks. Vietnamese are astounded at a dog doing tricks. Most dogs in Vietnam are one step above a gerbil in esteem. Even the waitresses held and played with him.(Vietnamese are generally scared of dogs) On a side note, they also had some weird rice wine with whole cobra inside, and another wine with dead birds stuffed in the jar....needless to say we didn't imbibe. We did however imbibe quite a bit when we went out to the bars afterwards. Great time with incredible friends old and new.
Spray Painting Our Bike Racks
Tie Up Loose Ends
Today we tied up loose ends, and I painted our racks on the side of a road in town. Funny how no one batted an eye that a huge tattooed American was spray painting racks on the side the road. One friendly taxi cab driver came over and talked our ears off in Vietnamese and insisted on a picture with me. One more guy who spoke pretty good English came over as well to see what we were doing, and translated to the cabbie. Other than those two... no one came over to say anything to us or wonder what we were doing. Gotta love this place!!!
It should take us about 4-6 days to get to LuangPrabang, Laos on motorbike, and we may or may not have the internet on the way. We will take lots of pictures and keep in touch as good as we can, but the trip to Laos will most undoubtedly be an adventure we will never forget. Wish us luck and keep us in your prayers and positive thoughts!