Sharon and Barry Go!

... Vietnam by bicycle / Angkor Wat

Category: Vietnam (page 2 of 2)

Huế City

Hue is in central Vietnam and was the capital of the country from 1802 until 1945, during the Nguyen dynasty of emperors. We arrived by overnight train around 8:30 a.m. after a noisy, bumpy ride. Our sleeping berths were basic at best – a ‘firm’ (hard) platform for sleeping, pillow, and cover – four in each compartment, two on top and two on bottom. Somehow the up and down, back and forth, stop and start rhythm allowed for some sleep, and we disembarked no worse for the wear. After dropping bags at the hotel, we biked to breakfast and then around the city to see some of the major sites.

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Ninh Binh and Vicinity

We arrived in Ninh Binh around 5 pm yesterday after a lovely and challenging 83 km day of riding. Our bus took us the last few miles into this medium-sized city so that we could avoid the hazards of traffic. Ninh Binh is in Vietnam’s Red River Valley, an area rich in agriculture and natural resources. Its temples, waterways, and karst mountain scenery make it a natural tourist destination.

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The View from Our Rides

Our rides are challenging! Most of our time is on single lane rural roads, some paved but many are packed dirt and rock with ruts and potholes. We share these roads with people, motorbikes, trucks, and livestock – cows, water buffalo and chickens are frequent travelers. As we pass through villages, children often shout, ‘Hallo!’ and wave or put their hand out for a high five. And wherever we are, the scenery is spectacular.

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Homestay in Mai Chau Village

The Mai Chau village is situated in a valley surrounded by rich green hillsides, picturesque by any measure. This is one of the biggest rice-producing regions in northwest Vietnam with acres and acres of rice paddies. During our visit, rice had been recently harvested; the fields were being cleared and prepared for the next crop. Vietnam is one of the world’s major rice producers, making it an important crop for the food supply and the national economy. Our biking though the valley and Mai Chau was spectacular, but the real treat was our homestay in the village.
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Leaving Hanoi

On Monday we left Hanoi for the village of Mai Chau, our first riding day. Impressions of Hanoi as we left — Mix of old and new. Skyscrapers. Women carrying vegetables in baskets suspended on a bamboo pole. Friendly. Fabulous food. Fluid traffic. Sidewalk cooking. Flowers. Fresh fruit. Pop up vegetable gardens. Lakes. Music. And, of course, motorbikes. 3.5 million motorbikes. Motorbikes parked on sidewalks. Women in heels on motorbikes. Dogs on motorbikes. Toddler sleeping on a motorbike. Family of 4 on a motorbike. Motorbikes everywhere.

More on our ride and our night in Mai Chau later.

Video: Hanoi Moments

No time now to post about our first day riding, but here’s a short video showing moments from our stay in Hanoi.

Hanoi by Bike

Yesterday we were pedestrians dodging motorbikes and cars on crowded Hanoi streets, and today we set out to see the city by bike. We are a diverse group of six people – 4 men and 2 women. Two Brits (one originally from New Zealand), one Canadian (by way of Denmark), and one Australian in addition to Barry and me. Our leader, Nguyen Son (Son), lives in Hanoi when he’s not shepherding tourists around his country.
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Morning Walk in Hanoi

Our first morning in Vietnam. We took a slow stroll (our jet-lagged bodies couldn’t handle more) through the nearby Old Quarter and quickly learned that the signature sound of Hanoi is the beep-beep of motorbikes warning pedestrians and other scooter riders away. Scooters parked on sidewalks often force pedestrians onto the crowded streets. There are few traffic signals and everybody plays chicken to decide who gets the right of way.

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