It took me 5 days to decide on a motorcycle, I ended up with a 2009, Yamaha, YBR 125G. It cost me a bit more than twice what I thought I would spend. My research was based on what I could find on the web, which is advice from folks on a very low budget. I’m also on a low budget, but i don’t care how much a bike costs, i care how much I can sell it for, how reliable it is and how comfortable it is.
On my first day I arrived at Pom Coong Village in Mai Chau. It took me a few hours longer than I thought it would but my trusty GPS app got me out of Hanoi without any issues. I did a home stay there and it was great, it included diner and breakfast and it was the best and biggest dinner I’ve had in Vietnam so far.
On my second day i drove to Son La, it was a nice drive through the mountains and the first hour the fog was as thick as pea soup. My bike is loosing power under load at high revs, so I’m going to get a new air filter and check the gas filter as well. I’ll probably drain the float bowl as well to ensure there is no water in it. Son La does not have much to offer, it’s just a place to stop for the night. I could have easily continued on to my next stop today, but I have some time to kill as I’m planing on getting to the Sapa area on Friday night so I can check out the untouristed weekend markets on Saturday and Sunday. These markets are off the beaten track, and should be a great opportunity to see and interact with some of the Vietnamese Ethnic folks.
On day three I figured out that my bike was burning a half liter of oil every 100km and I was only getting 25 KPL (Kilometers Per Liter). I called the folks I bought the bike from and they agreed to get another one ready for me. On the way back I the electrical system died and one of the instrument pods fell off.
I’m back on the road again today after a night in Hanoi. My new (to me) bike seems much better. I’m just happy that I was dealing with someone who stood behind what they sold. Or I would have been out quite a bit of cash.
This evening I’m in Nghai La, I had a great day riding and there were some amazing views. Every day I see more and more ethnic folks and less tourists. I did not see one westerner, once i got out of Hanoi this morning. I really like riding in Vietnam. Riding in Central America in 1995 ruined riding in the US for me. I stopped riding all together for about 11 years. You can set your own level of risk here and choose which rules to follow. Just the way I like it. Since none of the people I know now ever knew me riding a bike, you don’t need to fear for my safety, as I’ve said before, I’m much safer on a bike than in a car. That still holds true.