Bye Bye Honda Motorbike…hello Ha Long Bay

Did I sleep at all last night? I just kept replaying different aspects of yesterdays’ ride in my head over and over. I felt sick at the thought of ever having to get back on that motorbike. It was not even the thought of riding the bike, just managing to exit the car park of the hotel in the morning.

The time came for me to get up and face the day. I knew I couldn’t continue the journey on the motorbike. My luck (thank you birds at temple) had got me safely this far but I would be mad to risk one more second on that Honda. The motorbike had to go.

I found the others and after talking with my brother he agreed to ring the motorbike shop and see if he could arrange for them to come and collect the motorbike. Otherwise, the other possible option was to maybe put it on a train to be collected in Hanoi?

I could not be more pleased and relieved…the guys from the motorbike shop agreed to come and pick up the motorbike.

I said to my brother before he rang them that I was obviously willing to pay them for their time, trouble and inconvenience of picking up the motorbike etc and we had thought a figure in the range of VND$2,000,000.00 (AU$168) might be appropriate. I didn’t know how much they would expect and if they had said a figure higher than my suggested figure then that would have been fine too. They were very happy with the amount I had offered. For me, it was a cheap escape.

So there I sat by myself, in the hotel carpark for 3 hours waiting for my white knights from the bike shop to arrive. I spent some of my time working out how to now get to Ha Long Bay by bus. My brother, his girlfriend and Dan had headed off on their bikes as soon as the arrangements were made for my bike to be collected.

My brother, his girlfriend and Dan heading off

My brother, his girlfriend and Dan heading off

They were hoping to ride to Ha Long Bay in time to get on an overnight Junk leaving in the afternoon. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t think I would make it to Ha Long Bay in time to go with them and assumed I would have to go on a Junk separately on my own (sad face).

In one last hopeful attempt to join them on an overnight Junk, I sent a text to my brother:

Bike picked up and he is finding bus to Ha Long Bay. Will be 2 hours. Wait“.

I was now on Vietnam’s public transport and I could not have been happier.

The motorbike guys turned up mid morning and they were really good about the whole thing. They had brought back my original payment in cash, from which I gave them back the agreed VND$2,000,000 compensation. They were wrapped…I was wrapped…everything was going to be ok.

One of the guys headed off back to Hanoi. The other guy was kind enough (almost insistent) on taking me on the back of (my) Honda to a bus stop in town from where I could get a bus to take me to Ha Long Bay. Once at the bus stop he waited with me and even brought me a bottle of water. Like the majority of the Vietnamese people, he was so polite and kind and gentle. He spoke broken English and we chatted while we waited. Once the bus arrived he told the driver I was headed to Ha Long Bay so the driver would know to let me out. After thanking him several times again (after my million thank you’s already) I hopped on the bus and found myself a seat. For the first time since leaving Hanoi, I felt I could actually relax and enjoy the passing countryside. This was the best bus trip ever!

The bus driver eventually signalled to me to get off. He spoke no English so I just obeyed his signal and stood there and waited until the bus left to try and work out where I was exactly. I was basically at a “T” intersection. I assumed the road leading off the main highway might leads to Ha Long City (or Bai Chay). There were taxis around so I figured the best option was to just hail a cab. My brother had earlier sent me a text saying they were at the Saigon Ha Long Hotel, so I directed the taxi driver there. Thankfully they had decided to do the Junk tomorrow and were booked to stay the night at the Saigon Ha Long Hotel with two adjoining rooms. Soooo nice.

Spectacular views from the Saigon Ha Long Hotel

Spectacular views from the Saigon Ha Long Hotel

Saigon Ha Long Hotel is luxury especially in comparison to the accommodation back in Hanoi (with a view of a brick wall). We have two beautiful balcony rooms with fantastic views over the bay! I love this hotel! We take the opportunity to enjoy the hotel for what is left of the afternoon and eventually venture out only to the “Royal Casino” which is a short walk up the road. You will recognise it as a big white imposing building devoid of human life.

How funny … there was literally nobody in there (except for staff). We lingered long enough for a drink but there was unfortunately no atmosphere so we didn’t stay too long and preferred to go back to the comforts of the hotel with its pool and pool area.

Another balcony view from the Saigon Ha Long Hotel

Another balcony view from the Saigon Ha Long Hotel

The view over Ha Long Bay is amazing. I am so relieved. It is 18 September and I am feeling like my Vietnam trip can now really begin.[showmyads]

For previous Vietnam post see  Hanoi, Vietnam to Ha Long Bay on a Honda Motorbike
For next Vietnam post see Ha Long Bay, Vietnam – a magnificent World Heritage Site