As you probably noticed, I experienced plenty of problems with my Honda (Sufat) Win 110 cc while driving it in Vietnam. It was Sufat so it was quite fine in comparison to other copies of Honda Win built from Chinese parts, but I was about to go to Laos and Cambodia and I wanted something more reliable. When I was staying in Ha Giang I found an advertisement on Suzuki GN 125 for only 400 USD. The normal price is about 800-1200 USD. I didn’t hesitate and I wrote to this Indian guy selling it back in Hanoi.

Suzuki GN125
Suzuki GN125

The next day I was driving 7 hours back to Hanoi to see it. It looked perfect. When I was driving it, it felt much better that my Sufat. Suspension was great and the seat – the seat! I loved it. Power-wise, it was just about right.

I paid him and I was driving it back to my hostel. Suddenly, after about 20 km, It started to loose power. I took it to my friend Eachan and he told me that it needs a new engine head. I was like: Ok, if I bought it for 400 USD, than paying 100 USD is still a good investment. I left it in his workshop and the other day we started disassembling it. The problem was that we needed to wait for the parts. And then Eachan kept promising me that it will be finished, but it just took so long. My plan was to go to Da Nang, stay there for a month teaching English and than go to Laos and Cambodia on this bike.

Me and Eachan fixing Suzuki GN125
Me and Eachan fixing Suzuki GN125

In the meantime, when it was being repaired, I found out that one girl from Czech Republic is about to come to Hanoi and that she is looking for a motorbike. I promised her to meet her when she comes and that she can have my Sufat.

I wanted to enjoy last moments with this motorbike so I rode back to Ha Giang, I collected my stuff there and I went to Sapa.

Road from Ha Giang to Sapa
Road from Ha Giang to Sapa

The road was terrible, but the Vietnamese with their scooters didn’t care and so I learned myself some off-road skills.

On the way from Ha Giang to Sapa. Rice fields and beautiful nature.
On the way from Ha Giang to Sapa. Rice fields and beautiful nature.
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
Green and pink
Green and pink

Driving alone was something I appreciated. Not being pushed by someone else. On the other hand, I still rode all day long and in the evening I reached Sapa. It was overcrowded. From the photos I saw, It looked like a small village in the hills, but in the reality it was just stuffed with tourists, not only foreign ones, but also Vietnamese. Plenty of casinos, bars, restaurants. I just didn’t like staying there and so I continued towards my hostel.

Billboard in the middle of nowhere
Billboard in the middle of nowhere

I didn’t know that the road towards the hostel is going to be that bad. I was going about 10 km/h and I think even that was too fast. My tent flew away and I wasn’t able to find it. I promised myself to wake up early in the morning and to look after it, but I think someone already took it, because I wasn’t able to find it.

I went back to Sapa, I was driving around, but It just didn’t feel right. There was nothing that would interest me and so I left.

Close to Sapa
Close to Sapa
Sending some woods
Sending some woods
Ricefields
Ricefields
Ricefields again
Ricefields again

My phone stopped charging and so I had no GPS. I am not afraid to use my mouth to ask people around and I was able to reach Hanoi the same day.

The first day, when I was going from Hanoi to Ha Giang, I did 350 km, the next I did 400 km and the third day 450 km. From time to time I needed to stop to do some stretching, otherwise, I would just die. Riding the motorbike this way, I knew that the engine is fine and that I don’t have to take care about it. I was only about to repair the electronics, change the sprockets, change the chain and oil so that the Czech girl that was about to buy it can feel fine about the bike and it won’t break after few kilometers.

I took the bike to this guy that my friend Eachan recommended me. I paid for the repairs and I thought that the bike is ready to be sold.

Walking around Hanoi
Walking around Hanoi
Police scooter in Hanoi
Police scooter in Hanoi

I met the girl and she told me she has no experience riding motorbikes. Ok, I can teach her. I took her underneath a bridge that I knew is suitable for a training and slowly I was teaching her about how the motorbike works. She was brave enough to do it. When I saw her riding it for the first time I was worried, but she was making progress each second.

Learning to ride
Learning to ride

I took her into the traffic and after some time when I felt, she already knows enough, she was the one driving. She did quite well.

I sold her the bike and she came up with the idea that she is going to go to Cat Ba island with her friend and two backpacks. Driving alone without luggage is one thing and driving with someone else is another. I was worried, but she persuaded me not to be and I gave her my trust.

Let's go
Let’s go
Going to Cat Ba
Going to Cat Ba

Sadly, she had plenty of problems with bike. Mainly with the electric starter that the mechanic told me is fine, later with gears, with the rack, spark plug, etc. One day she was crying when I was calling her and I felt really bad. I wanted to give her the money back and come to help her. I was surprised when she returned and she told me she wants to keep the bike. She also told me that she learned a lot just by looking at what the mechanic was doing. She learned every day.

Meeting a Czech girl after several months made me sentimental. Being able to speak about things in Czech, my native language, with such easiness made me want to spend time with her more and more. And you know where this leads. We stayed together for several days, we fixed what we could on the bike and than she was about to continue her trip.

From no skill to driving 7000 km around Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia it took her 2 months. Respect for that. She also changed the paint of the motorbike so that it looks like a zebra.

Sufat Zebra
Sufat Zebra

Meanwhile I was staying in Hanoi, waiting for my Suzuki to be fixed and learning about engines, so that next time I can do it by myself. I needed to stay in Hanoi and I was meeting people there. I was moving from a place to place so that I can take photos of hostels and write some reviews about it. This way I was earning 10 USD a day just for doing that. Then I found Chien Hostel and this place suddenly became my base for about 2 weeks. I met a guy called Michael from Amsterdam when I was playing my guitar on the rooftop and he was showing the manager what he can do about the rooftop. I told him that I will help him. We cleaned the whole area, we sanded all the woods, brought some pallets and made some furniture out of it. We had a great group of friends back in Chien. I enjoyed staying there a lot. And the food? Oooh, the food over there. I miss it.

Making of a nice rooftop with Michael
Making of a nice rooftop with Michael
Party@rooftop
Party@rooftop

Amanda, the Canadian girl I wrote about earlier, texted me that she is going back to Canada and that she wants to meet me before she goes. She flew from Thailand to Hanoi, I picked her up and then we enjoyed some more Drum and Bass parties together.

Oh no!
Oh no!

I was sad letting her go, but she had her plans and I had mine. I am slowly learning how to be more free about relationships, especially after being in love with one girl for more that 5 years and always having this idea of a perfect relationship in my head. It was quite funny when me and Amanda went to The Pirates Den and there was this girl I spent a night with a week before that and there was Amanda next to me. I felt like shit. Later I just told both of them and I realized that it is actually fine, we laughed about it.

On the way to Hai Phong
On the way to Hai Phong
In The Pirates Den
In The Pirates Den
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake

Amanda left after a week or so and my Suzuki was ready to go. At least I was told so. I needed to drive it for about 400 km with low RPM so that the new piston breaks in. I chose to go to Nihn Binh, which is about 100 km down south from Hanoi.

More about Nihn Binh and its surrounding in the next article.