HANOI to HO CHI MINH (aka SAIGON)

 
Nobody told us Vietnam would be this cold! Hanoi, really did feel like the “Paris of the East”, with locals decked out in scarves and beanies, and cupping mugs of coffee in their hands. It was not quite the South East Asia we had expected, so after a few days wandering the narrow and hectic streets, we decided to head south (and rather quickly too!).

We took the coast road to Saigon. It was busy, at times scary, but overall effortless riding – mostly flat, with a decent shoulder, and a good tailwind too! Just be prepared to answer “hello!”, “hello!” and wave at everyone of Vietnam’s 85m inhabitants along the way… there is no escape!

The scenery here, especially coming from China, is very rural. You cycle passed farmers working water buffalo in flooded rice paddies, and fisherman going out to sea, in colourful hand-made boats – it is almost like you have stepped back in-time! Then the school bell rings, and literally hundreds of kids would join you on their bikes. The race was then well and truly on…

With not much in-between, we looked forward to our breaks in the “touristy” towns. We took rest days in Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Mui Ne. Each had its own appeal, but Nha Trang was by far and away our favourite – the perfect beach, with finally, some hot and sunny weather. Do we really have to leave??

Overall, Vietnam would be great cycling, except for one thing – the warped view many locals seem to have of westerners. We have not been cheated, or felt so distant from the community we are cycling through as we have in Vietnam. It’s a real shame, with both sides to blame, and both sides that suffer.

While bike troubles plagued our final leg into Saigon – I suppose, you do get that after 21,000kms – luckily it didn’t stop us riding, and we remain on track to be in Siem Reap (Cambodia) for Xmas, and Bangkok for New Year’s Eve.

 
And as this will be our last update before then, we’d like to say a big… Merry Xmas and the Happiest of New Year’s to you all!

Jules & Jess

The cold and hectic streets of Hanoi

The cold and hectic streets of Hanoi

 

Karst landscapes around Ninh Binh

Karst landscapes around Ninh Binh

 

Rice paddies and buffalo

Rice paddies and buffalo

 

Colourful fishing boats

Colourful fishing boats

 

Trucks, buses, school kids (and cows) on Highway 1

Trucks, buses, school kids (and cows) on Highway 1

 

Vinh Moc war time tunnels

Vinh Moc war time tunnels

 

Our mute 4ft guide was actually born in the tunnels (we think?)

Our mute 4ft guide was actually born in the tunnels (we think?)

20,000kms ... half way around the equator !

20,000kms ... half way around the equator !

 

 

Picturesque fishing villages

Picturesque fishing villages

 

Mostly flat riding

Mostly flat riding

 

View down from the Hai Van pass (north of Da Nang)

View down from the Hai Van pass (north of Da Nang)

 

Lantern lit Hoi An restaurants

Lantern lit Hoi An restaurants

 

Here comes the rain again...

Here comes the rain again...

 

Pho Bo, the only thing to eat outside tourist towns

Pho Bo, the only thing to eat outside tourist towns

 

Nha Trang, the perfect beach

Nha Trang, the perfect beach

As voted by the beach expert !

As voted by the beach expert !

Saigon here we come

Saigon here we come

Temples en-route

Temple thingy en-route

Room with a view, and only $14 per night

Room with a view, and only $14 per night

Finally the scenery changes... (are we in Australia?)

Finally the scenery changes... (are we in Australia?)

Sunset at Mui Ne beach

Sunset at Mui Ne beach

Roadside drink stop - perfect in the heat now!

Roadside drink stop - the perfect way to beat the heat now!

 

Saigon streets, after Vietnam beats Singapore 4-1 in football

Saigon streets, after Vietnam beats Singapore 4-1 in football