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Week Three Chapter - 17 ~ 23 Sep 2007 - Vietnam

Starting Location for This Week: Hoi An, Vietnam (Asian Continent)
Ending Location for This Week: Hanoi, Vietnam (Asian Continent)
Planned Mileage for this Week: 520 miles (836 kilometers)

Welcome to Week Three of The IndoChina Expedition

I love my new BMW HP2 bike, it is as if it was made to be ridden in the organized traffic chaos of the streets of Vietnam. I am feets above everyone else, and when I am standing on the pegs, I have a complete overview of even the heaviest of traffic in Hanoi where we are right now. Chris and I have been riding around town while Sterling has been filming us making our way through traffic, it is quite a sight. But best of it all was when Sterling was hanging on to a local scooter taxi while filming us making our way to a local motorcycle Cafe. I do not know he does it, but it is impressive to watch and the footage he is getting is really cool. Can't wait to see the final edited version.

Every night, Sterling is working on his video material, while I am doing the pictures, and Chris in his room is preparing for what the next days might have in store for us. The three of us have traveled extensively together on past adventures, so we know how to work together even when the heat and exhaustion is getting to us; we keep up with a good attitude. I feel that this part of our friendship is very important for the success of this journey.

I have been working all day on editing pictures and getting this page ready for publishing, and now I need some sleep - we have a long day's ride to Sapa in the early morning. For this reason, please expect more material to be published, even in previous pages as time permits. After all, we are out here to ride our bikes and experience the land and cultures we are traveling through.

Thanks for tuning in and we will see you soon with more material from the road in IndoChina.


Helge Pedersen


I’ve twice now had the opportunity of hearing a strange sort of thing here in Vietnam.  Some of the large trucks have an unusual warning sound when they are backing up.  Back home, big trucks usually beep when they are backing up.  You know, the kind of beeping you hear when a large construction vehicle is backing up.  Over here, they play musical tunes when backing up.  But not jut any kind of music either, I actually heard a truck playing "Happy Birthday" the other day.  And after that, another one played "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".


We stopped by a local high school to film the children getting out from their classes in the afternoon.  Before the large bell was sounded, the students were sitting patiently at their desks, engaged in studious labor, or so it seemed.  Once the large bell was rung however, an explosion of noise and movement burst forth as hundreds of children came pouring out of the front gates of the school.  They were wearing the traditional Vietnamese school uniforms, girls in their long white dresses and boys in their white shirts. I could tell that they were very curious to see me with my large camera, taking pictures.  However, the girls were so shy that none of them could look me in the eye as they crowded past. I pushed my way directly into the middle of the stream of bodies pouring out of the gates, hoping to see some kind of eye contact or recognition, but there was none - just the endless rush of curious but shy bodies moving past.


I’ve noticed a lot of colorful propaganda billboards around the country, promoting the ideals of communism I assume.  They all feature brightly colored families and workers in dramatic poses with slogans underneath that I can only imagine say things about work and strength and unity, etc.  What’s unusual is that they definitely have a similar artistic style, as if they were all created as part of the same ad campaign.  They are everywhere, usually at the entrance of the larger cities; friendly reminders about doing one’s duty and upholding the ideals of a fading system of thought.


It seems we have picked up a couple of local motorcyclists on this journey.  One of them works for our guide, and the other is a friend of his.  They ride Hondas, love their motorcycles a great deal, and don’t speak any English.  They ride with us all day, eat meals by themselves, and disappear each night when we get to the hotel.  Other than the fact that they are good motorcyclists and obviously enjoy riding their bikes, we can’t tell a lot about them.  One of them we call “Smokey” because he is always smoking cigarettes whenever the opportunity arises.  Once, he smoked five them of them during a lunch stop.  The other man, who rides an old Honda and always follows us in the back, is somewhat of a shadowy character.  He
smiles a lot but we wonder if he works for the government as a spy.  We have dubbed him "Agent Orange".


Sterling Noren

Hello There,

Wow, it's hard to believe we have been on the road for two weeks! Our travels have taken us from Hoi An on the central coast of Vietnam, north to the capital city of Hanoi. In Hue, the old capital city, we visited the Citadel and Imperial City (patterned after the Forbidden City in Beijing). On the next day's ride we crossed the DMZ. We stopped at the memorial and took some photos.

We are in Hanoi now and had a very exciting ride through the Old Quarter last evening. It was crazy crowded on the streets, and we literally had to force our way through - not easy on a BMW R1200GS Adventure with bags and a passenger (Sterling). We ended up at a cafe that a local motorcycle enthusiast owns. He has turned it into a mini motorcycle museum. Some of his friends showed up on a couple Harleys., and yes they were very loud, image is everything. The Old Quarter of Hanoi is a hopping area, it has lots of narrow tree-lined streets. There are cafes, bars, shops and just about anything you could possibly want is available. But the "fun police" come out to make sure everything is shut down by 1am.

Tomorrow we will get an early start as we have a long ride ahead of us. We leave Hanoi and head to the northern-most region of Vietnam near the Chinese border. We will be in the mountains and the weather should be cooler.

The food remains very tasty and healthy. There are lots of great fruits available everywhere. I really like the Dragon Fruit and Longren. The cafe we stopped in last night had crickets and locusts on the menu but we didn't have time to try them. Next time???

Did you know Vietnam is the 13th largest country by population? The 2006 census was 84 million.

Ciao for Now,

Chris Poland

An IndoChina Slideshow



To start the Slideshow, click once within the frame above, then click the PLAY button at the left of the

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Helge Pedersen Images from Vietnam, IndoChina Expedition 2007

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