01.01.2008 - 04.01.2008
yes we are in good tropical spirits as the wheather has finally decided to be nice to us. It is not entirely bye bye to the fleece sweaters as the evenings are still cold but blue skies and sunshine are making us very happy indeed.
We are back in Hanoi after 4 years and regognize a lot. It is busier and more touristic than we remembered but still nice. The vietnamese certainly understand the good life and this city is full of nice cafe's and little roadsite coffee/ tea joints; bakeries with french croissants and pain au chocolat complete the picture. It is a bit French but without the French. I leave it to your personal judgement whether that is a positive or not.
The ride here was very good. We left cat Ba slighty hungover on january first to be blown away by the best scenery so far.
We had to cycle 24 km over the island to get to the ferry port and these were some truly amazing beautiful kilometers. then we took a ferry to a next island, cycled over that to the other end to yet another ferry to the main land. There we arrived in Vietnam's largest industrial city of Hai Phong. The outskirst were ugly and industrial, the inner city is actually nice with lots of old colonial buildings and a nice atmosphere.
This was followed by a 133km ride to hanoi. Nice ride: we found a lot of roads that were not mentionned on our (otherwise very good and detailed) german map because everytime we aked someone for the way they pointed us to the smallest and most local (and no doubt most direct) roads. very cool.It took us to a lot of ferries and along some nice rice and carrot fields. Especially the carrot peope were nice; as soon as we asked them the way they offered us a nice clean fresh carrot for on he road.
It really has to be said: the people are so nice. we heard a lot of bad stories from the hippie backpackers crowd, the commonly shared opinion is that the vietnamese are not nice.... or at least not as nice as everyone else in south east asia. Again, it proves that cycling takes you way of the mass tourist trail: we get a lot of "hallo's" , schoolchildren cycling along wih us, a lot of smiles and we meet nice people all the time.
We just sent a package home to get rid of those extra unneccesary kilo's of luggage. we are now down to the bare minimum. After reading someone describing the mountains in the north west (where we are heading now) as Alpe d'huez but then much bigger we got a bout of stage fright and decided that such over the top luxury as towels and that extra t-shirt are really not worth the pain..... i sincerely hope it helps!