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Old 20 Nov 2007
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anyone buying a minsk in hanoi

just a quick shout out to anyone doing the minsk thing in vietnam, i am going to be there tommorrow (21.11.07) to go and see Mr Cuong, can anyone give me some advise as to what to look out for, things i need etc.
i'm planning on travelling around vietnam for a few weeks, so anyone fancies tagging along, just give us a shout

Last edited by in a rut; 20 Nov 2007 at 07:29.
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Old 20 Nov 2007
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I didn't buy I rented, he will give you tools and a little photocopied hand book, but don't worry everyone that has a road side fixing place will know how to fix the bike.

Take 2 spare plugs, a chain and padlock, make sure then brakes and clutch work ok.

Take his advise in how to start the bike, I lost count of the number of people who couldn't get them kick started. And lastly turn the damn petrol off when you get off the bike or else they tend to flood.

Have fun they are lovely little bikes. like this but SMALLER
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Old 20 Nov 2007
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I wasnt that impressed with Mr. Cuong (if thats the one which which everyone in Lonely Planet seems to use). I hired a little red bastard which was very underpowered, really hadnt been kept well and broke down (very fixable...just annoying) every day atleast twice. My exhaust fell off for instance.

I was much more impressed with the chap on the main road (i forget his name...if you are at the aussie backpack hotel, they will be able to point you in his direction), sort of on the eastern edge of the town area on the sort of ring road.
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Old 20 Nov 2007
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Also if you intend to stay at the stilted village (Seems to be the logical journey on the way north) i forget its name (Mai Chau?), leave from hanoi at around lunch time. Its only a 3 hour drive or so and the village is realistically a tourist village...no-one turns up till 3/4 on the way back from the north.

The reason is i arrived at about 11 in the morning and tried to push on to Son La...which it turns out is a very long way...the road signing is wrong (From Mai Chau its only sign posted as perhaps 200kms...lies...damn lies) ...its a big road day and turned into a miserable one aswell i think if you try to ride from Hanoi.

Another thing...the actual Mai Chau village is not signposted and does nto actually lie on the road to Son La. You will cross a small bridge (i cant remember what its made of) where you will see a road leading back off down the valley (e.g. opposite to Son La direction directly), there is a petrol station and a shop or so aswell as a few buildings. The Mai Chau village is somewhere down there maybe 2/3km.

Secondly despite the advice from the locals, even in rainy season the road from Son La to Dein Bien Phu is quite good fun and beautiful and worth the trip to see the scenary and the historic sites. The locals (who seem to avoid the route at all cost) seemed to have very little real knowledge of the roads condition, the local tour operators conducting overland trips deliberately will ive you false information to try to stop you tagging onto to any potential tour. Take everything they say with a massive pinch of salt.

Thirdly Lai Chau in the North West is a slightly confusing place as the vietnemese have moved the whole village up the road (something to do with flooding a dam). All the road signs are wrong and the villagers seem confused as to where they live. I found that to get to Tam Duong was actually possible from Dien Bien Phu comfortably and the village was a hive of activity. It also stopped any sort of confusion with which Lai Chau you were in. This will also mean you can very leisurely ride the tam trom pass taking loadsa photos the next day and stop en route at the various villages.

Thats about all for now...sapa is a big disappointment in all honesty after the fabulous trip.

If you need any help on the way south drop me a line...i think the North is a good trip to warm yourself up for going south. Highway one is really shitty...i ended up doing the highway one thing...sigh.
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Old 23 Nov 2007
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my little red minsk

cheers guys for the help, i bought it this morning from mr choug - but i think he is the guy on the ring road to the east of town - either way the bike is fantastic (relatively!) up to speed quickly (while smoking out those behind you!) comfy and stable, and not to bad lugging all my crap around with me. got over to halong city in 3 hrs and had a lot of fun doing so!
now i am just looking for someone in the area who fancies a buddy, as i feel that reliabilty might start to become an inssue in the hills!!
cheers for all the info
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