The Road to Hạ Long Bay

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IMG_2969 With my bike loaded up I left my excellent hosts at Chez Linh Linh homestay in Ba Dinh and headed back into the old district where I  had arranged to meet up with Steve. This gave me another opportunity to look around Hanoi and the market in particular. People were already gearing up for ‘Tết’; the Vetnamese Spring festival and which coincides with the Chinese New Year celebrations. Given the short time I had to explore Hanoi I hoped to find my way back there at some point during this trip.  Maybe.. IMG_2825 IMG_2970 IMG_2972 IMG_2974

My journey was delayed a little by an overturned scooter that brought the flood of traffic to a halt.  I caught up with Steve just East of the Cho Dong Xuan; Hanoi’s oldest market. Once again we crossed Gustav Eiffel’s Long Biên bridge over the Sông Hồng or Red River. IMG_2979 IMG_2981 IMG_2982 I followed Steve’s chosen route out through Hanoi’s Eastern suburbs towards Haiphong via the QL18. It would take a day or two and involved some quite heavy road work along busy main roads. This in itself dampened spirits and not quite the bucolic journey that Steve had anticipated. Certainly Google maps aren’t always the cyclists friend when planning such things. Regardless the roadside cafes provided good food (Pho) and a cheap hotel magically appeared for an overnight stop. With heads down and a bit of determination we dropped South down via the QL183 and tackled the AH14 main road to Haiphong. It was altogether a bit crap and another heavy dual carriageway. But we did it without incident.. IMG_2996

Dinner! Oh yes. Delicious pho and cheaper than chips. IMG_3006

Back on the highway to hell. IMG_3002

The guy at the helm of this boat on the river Cầu near Bắc Ninh returned my wave. 🙂 IMG_3014

Cats and dogs remain on the menu in Viet Nam and so sad to see them caged by the roadside awaiting their fate. IMG_3015

Incense. I had a little supply of party balloons to give away and the little girl peeping around the door here liked them very much.IMG_3022

This scene reminded me of Sri Lanka: IMG_3021

.. and more incense drying in the sun. IMG_3019

The lovely AH 14. IMG_3037

Steve leading the way. IMG_3034

I had retrieved a discarded hat from a roadside ditch and a man had added a strap for me. For fun I wore it on my way into Haiphong. To her amusement I popped it onto the head of this lady who was running a roadside cafe by the main roundabout leading in to the city. I downed a very welcome celebratory Hanoi beer. Phew. IMG_3046

We had made it to Haiphong (Hải Phòng); Hạ Long Bay and the South China sea!

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