The trip :

Pictures of the trip
 Decided on a whim without thinking too much, for my first trip to Asia I chose Vietnam.
Unfortunately my fellow trips could not be free, my wife gives me my trip ticket only if I do not ride alone. After some research on the net, ( thanks to Momi ) I rented a Honda 250 XR and the services of a companion (more than a guide) the small HUE, 29 years old, 1.50m and 49 kg,who learned the bike riding and English by himself, very friendly and always cheerful (chez Flamingo Travel )
I've been pretty lucky, but may be because I had decided to adopt a positive attitude no matter what happens and everything went extremely well, may be too much,  sometimes good troubles leave memories.
  Viet Nam is very populated, officially 91 million inhabitants, but probably more than $ 100 million for an area smaller than France (350,000 km ² vs .......... 552 000 km ²).

 I'm loving vast desert, it's not exactly the same feeling in Viet Nam. Impossible to do more than 1 or 2 km without meeting someone.
Not necessary to load the bike with tools, food, water or whatever, everything is available, repairers bikes everywhere, also for petrol there are a lot of gas stations and in the small villages at the grocery with manual pump. . 

  Vietnam is famous for his food, rightly, good food everywhere and it is very diverse. In restaurants in small towns, you're going in the kitchen to see what's cooking, you make your choice and within 5 minutes it is served and still very good, even if sometimes I did not know what I ate:
        -What is it ? 
        -Inside the pork.
         - Ah ok. 
I have not tried the dog or the frogs seen in the markets they looked like strangely to toads. You should know that here everything is eaten.
 For the breakfast  I was a little bit surprised, rice noodle soup, chicken or beef, served in street eateries. 
As often in the countryside there is no fridge, there is no problem breaking the cold chain, all is fresh picked or killed and bought on the market every days. No digestive issues for me and I've eated in taverns where you bring him not a health inspector at the risk of him having a heart attack.
Must still love rice, if not you are very wrong.
You can eat well for less than $ 5, a noodle soup approx 1.5 $. a hotel very correct in Hanoi under $ 20. 
I had the opportunity to be invited in the minority families and also Tai. A mat spread on the wood floor, sat down cross-legged (ouch my knees) a lot of food in the center, often 2 or 3 meats, fish and vegetables nems, and everyone draws with his chopsticks.
But the hardest thing is the drink. Rice alcool home made between 35 and 50 ° depending on the production and must be drunk one shot after a toast, when you're invited to toast it is very impolite to refuse, you drink with the one who invite you and once you drank , you handshake. And as I was the guest everyone wanted to drink with me ...... I shook a lot of hands drunken drunken
Sometimes in restaurant, the boss happy to see a stranger invited me to have a drink. It's funny, but alcohol is a real drama, as they produce their own alcohol, in the mountains they drink a lot, and they drive or ride. After lunch be careful on the road, we see some weaving. It is not uncommon to see guys lying on the sidewalk, I even saw one lying on the road, not on the side but in the middle and bikes passed him in a total indifference.
The people are very young, The kids do not claim anything. Poverty is present in the northern mountains, people live simply. People seem indifferent and cold but I think it's shyness or restraint, as soon as you smile and you tell them hello their face lights up and they respond with a big smile. No insecurity and harassment.
 The North Viet Nam is very mountainous, the villages are composed of various Ethnic minorities, Mong, Dzao, Tai, Thay, black Hmong etc ... main market days (Sa Pa and Bac Ha ) they "go down to the city" to sell their products and buy what they need. Women have retained the traditional dress that stands out and can recognize them. Markets are really colorful and you really can find everything.
                              My new friends  
Rice alcohol
 Fresh food


Driving in Viet Nam : 

Movie done with camera in hand

First of all, foreigners are not allowed to drive in Vietnam, A vietnamian driving licence is required and must be bought, it is only issued to residents. But the police closes his eyes, as they don't speak English, they avoid stop the aliens, they have enough work to the natives (widespread corruption). More, there is no insurance. If something goes wrong, material damages and not injured (or light) you have to bargain and as you are foreigner you are always wrong and you have to pay.  
If you do not agree or if there are serious injuries, the police comes and there .............. this is the big deal. First they immobilize the bike mini one month, and the owner has to pay if he wants to recover his bike, if there are serious injuries that can end up in jail. Must not have an accident. On the other hand we do not ride fast, I saw 3 machines lying on the ground, the drivers banged up but not serious, as they drive with tong or barefoot ........the helmet is mandatory but they wear things that look more like a caps, they also tend to replace traditional hats by the helmet they wear all day long. Sometimes there is propaganda against accidents with photos more than shocking, I'm not too blue flower but some I have not even been able to bear the sight.
Another vue of driving way, filmed with the phone this time, just before New Year's Day, the traffic is so much more fluid than usual.  

 There is no rule, as my friend Hue said "They do not care" , life is not the same value here. The biggest is right and the traffic never stops. When a car or truck pass in front of you they make you the headlight flasher, you have to change your  way because it will not move him. It is not uncommon to find someone in your line  but in opposite direction. and turns or intersections are systematically cut off, so when you turn right you can very well come across a guy in front of you on your right. Everything, absolutely everything can be carries on their bikes. For instance, on the highway out of the airport, a small motorcycle towing a trailer with a cow and her calf, a fridge, 4 pigs, a three-seater sofa, the list not limited .


But nobody gets upset and shouts, obviously the horn is an essential element to driving. I think they are able to run without brake but not without horn It is not used to yell at each other, but to warn: "I ​​pass" as if it gave you priority. Having a motorcycle more powerful than the other allows you to integrate yourself better traffic, the 250 is the most powerful allowed (although they are starting to have 400 but very very rare) and in my opinion the 250 is ideal and powerful enough, light and handy, essential. We rode mainly on small roads, averaging less than 40 km / h.

The bikes

 250 XR BAJA:

They are imported from Thailand, where I believe they are assembled. Vehicles over 125cc are overtaxed to 100%. They are worth about 5 - 6000 which $ so in Viet Nam it comes at $ 12,000, it hurts the  ... . This is why mainly renters are equipped. For spare parts is the same and not easy to obtain.
It is fit to the Viet size, ie low enough. The fork is small diameter with a clearance not very important, as rear shock. it looks like a frame 125,

Unlike with my 400XR, my feet touched well the ground And not just tiptoe. It is very much confortable, I'm not used. ( Hey tall guy, you don't have merit with your long legs, it is much more hard for us, small bikers to do off road ;-)).

 They are equipped with starter and kick ( the magic button is realy useful), I think they are mounted with a ratio rather long (I took 120 km/h on the gps and I cut before the end), she turned and started up pretty good. Consumption reduced approx 3.5l, with gas at $ 1). Rear brake almost nonexistent and front brake no more. Equipped with Chinese tires  as hard as wood, they get out the gripsters and inflated to the max (I explained the usefulness of the gripster, they did not know)

.When it's wet, with these tires,  their tracks become  like "Holiday on ice"

Therefore loaded (I was traveling light anyway, a  waterproof bag and a small backpack, 15 kg max) with this fork, rear shocks, tires, and standing up on the pegs not very comfortable (I understand now the guys who want handlebar extensions) your are rapidly calmed with gas, on wet surfaces and a little bumpy, it is back to the roots, no other Olhins and upside down fork, here it feels the ground. Regarding the engine, no problem she turned like a clock and did not consume oil. . Just one small issue, the chain was banging on the swingarm, the protection was replaced by a bicycle tire and was eaten ( African style fixing.   considering the price sold here 60 € piece of plastic). Last but not least ........ horn very powerful. On the road she was really playful and tires grip as well and as we made ​​a lot of passes with lots of turns and curves, I enjoyed myself.
 Legendary motorcycle Vietnam, imported from the big brother Russian (Belarus I think) in 125 and 250 2 stroke, it was the unique choice, before the development of small Japanese motorcycles. Fortunately today all 2 wheels are 4 stroke. Hanoi is excessively polluted, I can not imagine with 2 stroke. We didn't see many of old Minsk. We had a 125cc 4 stroke with a Taiwanese  engine.  Regarding the gearbox, there are 5 gears, all down. The trap is once in 5th gear if you push down once again you pass in neutral. the first time it happens you are surprised, you say .. .. I get a false neutral, then you push down once again and then.........first gear ............Ooooouuiiiinnnnn says the engine. And as I didn't understand, I did it three or four times, before I realised the gearbox worked like loop.  
You panic a little  when it comes to slow quickly, especially with two drum brakes you wonder if it does not have to stop with your feet if you realy want to stop.
  Regarding the chassis not much to say, I think my bicycle fork does a better job, if you added two bicycle pumps as rear shock and finally a frame that  squirms like chewing gum  in each corners ................. more basic than that, you die. Brief ............. this is a piece of shit and yet except a busted fuel filter and horn who wanted to live his life (unimaginable here to ride without) attached with a tape, no failure, phew ...

Despite all this we rode 1500km in the mountains of northern Vietnam, smiling every days.