I went to Ninh Binh because it was in the right distance to break in a new piston in my Suzuki GN 125. I was driving very slowly, because the RPM needs to under 4000. I was expecting the bike’s power not to be perfect in the beginning, but It was just getting worse and worse. When I reached Ninh Binh I was already sure, that I need to go to a service again.
I found a hostel called Go Ninh Binh. It used to be a train station and it is a very big building because of that. In there, I met this Vietnamese guy called Cuong. He was working there and we became an instant friends. He plays guitar and he does calisthenics. He was showing me his skills – he was jumping like a monkey from one bar to another with twists in the air. What a cool guy.
I also met a Xavi from Spain and two French girls and we agreed that the next day we will go to Cuc Phuong National Park. It wasn’t far and I wanted to try my motorbike for another time so that I am sure it is not just a new piston.
When we were entering the park, they asked us for 200 000 VND each which is quite a lot and just a few meters after that, there was a guy asking us for some money for parking our motorbikes. I said no. I already paid for the entrance and I was told that the parking is in the price. Normally, I would not even pay for the entrance, I would just turn my motorbike around and leave, because I know that no Vietnamese would pay entrance this expensive. We were already there and the others wanted to go, so I paid and followed them.
We received this map and we were following it. We ended up in a jungle that we were not able to go through and there was a path on the map. So we just went back. We chilled a bit on a hill and later we explored what we were able to explore. There was a small cave with a floating pathway and this resort area with some small huts. Yes, my feeling was right – we paid for a tourist trap. You can just build a small stand and wait for someone to come and pay, because he thinks that he has to.
We returned back to Ninh Binh, I left my motorbike in a service and I played Diablo 1 for the rest of the day. I never played it before and I felt like I needed some time when I am not thinking about the real world too much.
The next day I went for the bike, I paid 500 000 VND and they told me it is ok. I packed my backpack and guitar and I continued towards Da Nang, where I wanted to teach English. The engine was ok for a while and then it started to loose power again. I already knew what was causing it – these were the engine rockers that are opening and closing valves. These were replaced in Hanoi and I already knew how to adjust them. It was just strange that it is out of sync after a few kilometers again. It was not only that. I noticed that the engine is leaking oil and so I decided to go back to Ninh Binh where they “fixed” the bike.
When I showed the guys the leaking oil, they brought me a glue! What? So I just borrowed some tools and opened up the engine myself. What I saw struck me and I realized why it was like it was. You can see the rockers on the picture and how scratched they are. The mechanic in Hanoi he didn’t change it. I paid 2 000 000 VND (100 USD) for the repair and he just adjusted the rockers, so that it works for a while.
I started cleaning the engine head off the glue they used instead of a gasket. I think they changed the thinking about me and they actually started helping me at that moment. We put some nice isolation and assembled the engine back together so that it is at least not leaking any oil.
I returned back to Go Ninh Binh hostel and Cuong and his friends invited me for a party. I was the only white guy around there, but I didn’t care. I was dancing and enjoying the moment. It was super fun being there and I was like a main attraction for them over there. I was being asked if I am married and they tried to hook me up with one Vietnamese girl 😀 Classic.
The next day I went back to Hanoi. It was possible to ride the bike, but it was a real pain. I knew that I am making it even worse by riding it, but I needed to get back to Hanoi to show it to the mechanic I paid for fixing it.
When I arrived, the mechanic disassembled the engine and he told me that he changed the rockers before and that he wants 3 500 000 VND (165 USD) more to fix it. I was not in the mood to argue anymore. I was not in the mood to try to solve my motorbike problems every day. I just told him to put it back together and that I am going to sell the bike for spare parts. He didn’t want to do it. In the end I made a deal with him that he will give me one of his Sufat Wins. He wanted me to add some extra money, but in the end he agreed with the exchange without additional payment. The Sufat was not perfect, but I pushed him to fix what I noticed was not working well. I was thinking that selling a working motorbike might be easier than selling a damaged one.
After having problems with my first Sufat Win, then waiting one month for Suzuki and investing some money into it with no result, I just decided, that I am going to sell the bike he gave me and that I leave Vietnam and this mindset. I was about to leave anyway, because my visa was about to expire soon, I just wanted to ride a bike to Laos originally.
I made a nice advertisement and some nice photos in front of the nicest building I had seen in Hanoi and I sold the bike in 3 days. I bought a ticket to Thailand and I decided that I want to do Muay-Thai for one month on Koh Samui island.
I stayed in Hanoi Backpackers and Chien hostel in my last days and one of the guys in Chien cut my hair. I finally looked more like a person and less like a monkey again 😀
Don’t get me wrong. I really like Vietnam. I love the food, I like the freedom. But I just needed to get out of this money-based cheat-all-you-can mindset for some time.