Vientiane (Laos) – Ninh Binh (Vietnam) – Halong Bay

Jan 26. – 29.

The following day I spend mostly at the sand bank in the Mekong and enjoy the river. In the evening I am picked up at the Indian restaurant by a minibus a 5pm taking me to the bus stand. Way there takes us an hour because of traffic and another hour we have to wait for the bus to leave. The guys who manage the bus are very rude telling me where I have to sit and what to do but I ignore them as several other foreigners do to (later I find out the guys are all Vietnamese). I sleep not bad in the bus and we arrive at the border to Vietnam (not even half the way to Hanoi) at half past 6 next morning. Border procedure takes 4 hours only and is not very relaxed – bus is a sleeper bus so again we lie down around 11am and continue the journey. Aircondition is blowing directly on my head and I get a bad nausea in the following hours so I decide to jump of the bus at Nimh Binh around 100km before Hanoi after a journey of 650km – at 7pm(!).
After 26 hours shuttle, bus and border. I am done. I get of the bus and a taxidriver tries to convince me that I need him to get to the hotel – my GPS tells me there are 4 hotels less than 250m away one of them being directly opposite side of the street. Thank you but no thank you. I don’t feel like playing games at the moment I need a bed. The first hotel is to expensive and the second one is run by a guy who smile and takes out a flute when he sees I am carrying a guitar. Around 7U$ are within the budget and the room is okish so I just fall over into the bed even though it smells like alcohol in the lobby.
Next day in the morning I start exploring the town looking for breakfast – I can get soup with noodles and chicken or pizza. After running around searching for something more breakfast like for an hour I decide for the pizza…. On the way back to the hotel a guy just around the corner of my place invites me for a tea to his restaurant. He knows a soccer team from Vienna and Mozart – I am impressed. Lonely planet says Tam Kok just around the corners, also called Halong in the rice paddles is a beautiful sight. Kiem Dang, the guy who invited me for the tea organizes a motorbike for me to take me there.
Its really amazingly beautiful. It’s a canyon with rice fields around the river and there are several places where the river flows through caves under the mountains. The entrance fee is high and I either had to rent a boat with an old looking young girl to row it. She rows with her legs like she is in training for the Olympic games in leg rowing. I am pretty sure such a discipline does not exist and after some time I take a paddle in the boat and start braking her by rowing in the other direction which slows her down. Still we pass the amazing sight much too quickly to really enjoy and take proper pictures. A little before the small harbor she slows down two times to point out a dog and a goose for me only a moment before she asks me for a tip. I give her a short laugh and say good bye as we reach the harbor a little before sunset. I walk back to town through the rice fields and enjoy the sight – in the evening I take the guitar and go to my new friend Kiem who is really amazingly kind. I make some music next to the noise street and then we go to his computer to chat using google translate which works amazingly well.
I sleep very well the following night, have pizza breakfast in the morning an jump on the next bus to Hanoi not without having another tea with Kiem. I am lucky to catch a very fast bus so arriving in Hanoi bus station I am still motivated enough to catch the next bus to Halong Bay – a sight I really wanted to see in Vietnam. The bus to Halong Bay takes ages and makes many detours to deliver and collect people. It’s a local bus, scam free, kind people and enough space for me to move my fingers and my toes. When we make a stop after about two hours I am really happy to be able to move a little. The bus driver laughs a lot when he sees me jumping around and invites me to sit in the front where I can really move! Away from the tourist track again, people are incredibly nice again. A little later I get off the bus close to Halong Bay.
There are a few taxis at the bus stand and a guy who speak a little English. 2 seconds later a couple stops asking if they can help to translate. Wat thé phúc? I think and immediately start loving the people here. The taxi to the hotel area is offered to me for 60k Dong and even though the Meter shows 72 I only have to pay 60. Again I am surprised not having seen the hotel rooms yet. When I see them I think “way to expensive” with huge beds really really clean, nice furniture, sat TV neverending very hot water, free WIFI, fridge, a nice view… Well its 8 Euro per night and I accept in the second. Making a little walk through town I recognize everybody smiling and joking with me. I ask a guy who I selling mussels as a snack if he has a coffee. Of course he says, jumps on the bike and comes back a minute later with a great smile and an even greater coffee. Hospitality here seems to be the best. After the coffee I get dinner at a bakery and soon return to the hotel. I quickly book a Halong Bay tourist boat trip at the reception for the next morning before going to bed.

Luang Prabang to Vientiane

Jan 22 – Jan 25

Next morning I leave early to have enough time for the way back to Vang Vieng. Its again cloudy in the morning and I am freezing while moving south on the new road (another one than the one I came on). Soon the sun comes out and I stop at a crossroad to get a little petrol. Two guys from Thailand come rolling down the mountain road I have to take on bicycles. I give them big respect for taking that road on the heavy loaded bikes but they say they have just been rolling down for more than 15km. Sounds interesting and as it is the new road to Vang Vieng they are coming from I head up the mountain. A truck comes rolling down the other directions with all breaks are smoking heavily. Soon it becomes freezing cold again and some time before I reach the pass the GPS shows an altitude of more than 1600 above sea level. I go further up to reach the pass at a freezing cold 1839m.
Going down the other side carefully I find a signboard advertising a cave – I am curious and find, surprise surprise, nobody to collect admittance fee. Too far away from either Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng so it obviously doesn’t pay to sit in the shadow and collect money for doing nothing from stupid tourists. The cave is amazing and when I come back to the bike I have to hurry a little to make it to Vang Vieng before sunset.
The next day is the last day I got the bike so I explore the closer surroundings of Vang Vieng finding a few more nice places. Tomorrow I want to do the famous tubing/kayaking tour. With a group of Korean guys we go tubing on a river in a cave – amazing but I expect more fun from the kayaking! And it is. Not as I thought because the river stretch is rather unspectacular for kayaking but still too hard for the Koreans. After half an hour I ask them what they took the Kayak for if the go swimming all the time… At the best rapid the guide points out a way around it and I am stupid enough to trust him. After the rapid I ask him why he didn’t let me go down the steeper right side of the river. He says no way and I reply I could walk up there – with the kayak. Again he says no way now sounding like he believes what he is saying.
Everybody who knows me knows what came next – even though my right leg is in bad condition at the hip joint I take the kayak and walk up the rapid to take the steeper edge again – no problem, its all about motivation and nothing gives me more than somebody telling me what I can not do.
That was my last day in Laos as I have booked a bus ticket to Hanoi for the next day. The bus is supposed to leave at 1:30 but when it finally leaves around 3:30 (pm) I am transferred to a faster Minibus to catch the sleeper bus to Hanoi in Vang Vieng. No way to do that in 2,5 hours (150km) so in the evening I am in Vientiane (again) and the guys tell me I have to stay one day to get the next bus next morning. I am a little pissed but not so much as I meet another couple of old friends I know from paradise beach in Gokarn at the bus station. I don’t want to change money anymore and spend the night with a finnish couple (travelling overland by train back to Europe passing Bejing) in a dorm – nice!

Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang

Jan 19. to Jan 21.

I spend my birthday this year in Vang Vieng with a motorbike I rented for 5 days. I really enjoy riding the 150cc Hongga dirt bike (Chinese brand). My birthday present is a little bird I find trapped in an evil bird trap in the jungle – an about 10m wide nylon net put over a river. I destroy 5 more such nets on the way back and when I ask my host about it in the evening he says “This is our culture! You want some monkey soup?” Either he tells me that the nets are controlled once a day anyway so the worst the birds have to suffer for 24 hours. People here seem to be as much Buddhist as IS in Syria seem to be muslims – not at all!

Next day morning I jump on the bike to ride to Luang Prabang wich is less than 100km north but at least 190km on the road. I choose to take the longer way going there which is about 250 leading over some mountain passes taking me up to 1500m above sealevel several times – its fucking freezing on the bike. The road is pretty mindblowing amazing – one curve follows the next so my average speed is a little below 50 on the small bike. The battery charger of the bike has a problem and I recognize in the evening I have no lights. I did this one time in the Himalayas on my Enfield and I promised myself never to do it again. Riding mountain roads full of bump holes left hand side a wall right hand side an abyss in the dark without light is not funny!

I manage to get down the last pass and find the first guesthouse after 100km just as the last light is fading. I am freezing like a tiger in the arctic when I discover a huge 25l bucket in the bathroom. The water heaters here only produce a small amount of water at a time so it is not really enough to have a satisfying hot shower (the more water the colder it is). I slowly fill up the bucket with nearby boiling water to have the best bucket shower ever in my life. I love bucket showers but a 25l bucket is enough to heat up the whole body. After showering I go to the restaurant next door to get some food. This is, even though only 25km away from Luang Prabang an absolute not touristic area. The food is spicy as hell and I only get Sticks to eat it. I never had such spicy food before – not even that one time at the Indian highway when the chef wanted to fuck me and made something for me that he didn’t even touch when I asked him to show me that he is eating this. Locals have several good laughs at me sweating like a waterfall and still trying to eat with sticks. After I have eaten a quarter they have compassion and give me a spoon. Still I can only eat half of it as it is just too hot. After food I make a little walk through the village and get the best shave all over southeastasia from a very cute girl. Enjoy!

Next day I go to touristic Luang Prabang but I promise myself to do my best to be back here in the evening. After breakfast and massage (my shoulders desperately need one after the cool bike ride) I ride 25 more km to the Tat Kuang Si Falls. Arriving there I pass a butterfly park 300m before the car park at the waterfall. I am asked to pay for parking at the waterfall so I turn around to park the bike at the butterfly park. The small park is run by a dutch couple who created an amazingly beautiful place here. I enjoy the park a lot, try a fish spa (for free once inside) for the first time as I see fish that are well kept for the first time. Its amazing! Ineke has great coffee and cake for me and even some time for a little chat. When I look at my watch I realize I had spend way too much time here already (not enough still) and hurry up to go to the waterfall. For the first time in Laos I have the feeling the admission fee for waterfall and butterfly park is well invested. The butterfly park is amazing anyway and at the waterfall area they take care of bears rescued from poachers. The waterfall itself is incredibly beautiful with all the blue pools and nice cascade. The main fall is just breathtaking (but no swimming here). I take a quick shower in one of the small cascades and then have to hurry already to get back to the guesthouse in time. After another very hot shower I have another very hot meal and again everyone is laughing about the waterfall that springs from my face. I love this tiny village – here and at the Butterfly park I feel real hospitality not only for the money for the first time after I left Bangkok.

Vientiane to Vang Vieng

Wasted a few more days in Vientiane to get my Vietnam visa and then made the 150km journey to Vang Vieng by bus (7 hours!). In Vang Vieng I rent a 150cc kind of enduro and enjoy the surrounding. Once a few kilometers away from the tourist spot the landscape and the people become amazing. And I am little proud of some of todays wildlife pictures… enjoy!

Jan 11. – Jan 13. Laos (Pakse and arrival in Vientiane)

The blog entries of this journey sound a little pissed I have to admit and to be honest, sometimes I am… But anyway I enjoy travelling a lot again, even though shit happens (not as much as it sounds like I guess) I make memories every day. I am on the road one month yet and it feels like forever. So many things happen I simply don’t have time to write all down. Compared to being at home where one day is like another and I have no idea of the time passing here life is intense, true, honest and filled with experiences and beauty – even though its sometimes hard to see.


I left 4000 islands to Pakse. On my first (out of two) morning there I see a BMW bike with a british number plate in front of the hotel. The owner sits opposite so I ask him straight ahead if he took his bike from Kathmandu to Nepal or if there is by any chance a way already to cross Myanmar overland. When he tells me he came all the way overland I become tempted to fly home as fast as possible to get my bike. Backpacking is fine but getting away from beaten tracks sometimes seems impossible so that’s why I prefer having my own vehicle instead of using tourist transportation…. We have a nice chat sharing our opinion about the most hospitable countries (Pakistan and Iran) we both have traveled yet. He even managed to cross nowadays IS territory in Irak only weeks before the armed conflict started there. But check his Blog yourself if you like at


In Pakse I rent a scooter to visit the Bolaven plateau to see the coffee farms and the waterfalls. I go up to a freezing cold 1500 above sea level and back again within a few hours. Unfortunately many waterfalls are drained by hydro power plants already and those that still exist are expensive to see (entrance fee equals an average main course at a restaurant and there are loads of them). At the last one I start discussing the price with the guy who is in charge. I tell him I would love to see the waterfall and it would make me happy to see it. I ask him for his religion – Buddhist he says but still wont let me in. I pull out one dollar and offer it to him (a third of the entrance fee) saying thatif it is money which makes him happy I would be glad to give him a little at least so at least one of us is happy. At the end he refuses to take the money and invites me in.


After spending one night in the most luxurious sleeper bus (having a double bed because not fully booked) I wake up freezing when arriving in Vientiane. I curse the aircondition and look forward to feel the warmth when getting out of the bus – well the aircondition had not been on its freezing cold a little before sunrise on the main bus stand in Vientiane. In town me and 3 girls who had been on the bus get a coffee. I ask them to take care of my luggage for a bit so I can find a room to store all our luggage there they want to leave tonight and I need a room to stay a few days to get visas for Myanmar and Vietnam before going to Vang Vieng. When I go back to the café after finding a room suddenly somebody yells “Hariom!” right next to me. I look and see Narayan whom I met in india and spend some amazing time with a few years ago. We hug each other and are both laughing about meeting up by chance. Life is amazing!


After crossing the border I spend a nice week in Don Det – one of the 4000 Island in the Mekong river at the biggest waterfall of saoutheastasia. Very touristy place but very ok to spend a view days! 😉