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3480 km: Back in Vietnam – Hue

We are back in Vietnam and I must admit, it was a little getting used to. Roads all of a sudden have traffic again, and they use their horn (more then is necessary from my humble perspective). Mini-Vans drive like crazy and once again we are happy to be on a bike.

Though from the border to here we cycled through rain for 2 days (200 km), which is a bit of a downside compared to a bus….

On the road we passed by all the former US Army camps tha were used during the "American War" as they prefer to call it here. Because of the rain, our camera took a day off.....not that there was much to see except for a bunker and an old tank.

Hue (when dry) is a beautifull city with lots of good food!

Since today was a day off, we decided that someone else can do the peddling…


We took some time to admire the wonderfull Citadel



They say that Vietnam is copying China and is about 10 behind, though there are some funny differences. Yes they both are in transition from a 1 (Communist) party system to the “free market”. Though the strange thing is that in China you do not see any propaganda any more, no “hammers and sycles”, but surely no CNN and BBC. Vietnam is quite the opposite. Loudspeakers are everywhere and are still working over time. Propaganda billboards can be seen everywhere mostly with “Uncle Ho” advising some country women armed with AK-47s how to harvest more rice….. Though all hotels are equipped with Satellite TV including BBC and CNN! A strange mix….


Posted by HoYing 01:59 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

3626 km: Hoi An – City of Floods

View By bike to Singapore on HoYing's travel map.

After 2 months of good to fantastic weather we finally have hit the rain. For the last 4-5 days it has been overcast, drizzling and sometimes even pissing down. Quite approriate weather to visit a city like Hoi An. Located at the mouth of the Pearl river Delta, this beautiful old trading town (UNESCO certified) has not only a “rainy season” but actually a “flooding season”.

We saw an old Chinese / Vietnamese / Japanese trading house and all the walls were the marks of the floods of last years November…. All 5 floods. The highest had reached a height inside the room of 2 m!

Being a Civil Engineer (when not biking) I wondered and asked: “Why don’t they do something about this”? Being a shop owner in Vietnam and living with realities she replied: ”in flood season, have many boat, travel also can” …and smiled at me

It is fascinating to see an area as flat as Holland that is flooded a couple of times a year and live just stops, no infrastrucutre, no electric, no sewerage, no farming….probably a lot of “floating markets”, selling ……..

Our camera is still in wet weather mood (not working) so more pictures next time.

From here we will take the train to Ho Chi Mihn City to catch up with Wiets’ parents!!! From the there it’ll be the Mekong Delta, let’s see how they manage flooding there….

Posted by HoYing 20:22 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

3750km Mekong delta - Sa Dec

And suddenly we were in the very south of vietnam...... no, we are not cycling day and night with lightning speed.....we took the train from Danang to Saigon as my parents were waiting for us there. Shame to skip this part of the route but let's just say it gives us something to come back for.


Saigon was nice, we just hung around for a day to arrange bicycles for my parents and Cambodia visa. We were planning to rent bicycles but it turned out such a major hassle to hire tour bikes without taking the actual tour that we ended up buying two cheap 7-speed city bikes. Upside of this arrangement is that we do not need to go back to Saigon to bring back the bikes but instead will just donate them to whoever needs them in Phnom penh where our roads will split again as my parents will take the plane to Laos while we continue by bike to Angor Wat.

We took a minibus to My Tho, just north of the mekong delta in order to get us out of the Saigon traffic mess safely and cycled from therre to Ben Tre and the next day to Vinh Long. It is beautiful here with many fruit orchards, coconut plantations, hundreds of little rivers and islands.
Today we took a boat, first to the floating market and then further to Sa Dec. Such a large part of the daily life takes place on the water here, it is great to float along amongst it.





Posted by Whiskey 01:38 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

3870km Chaudoc - Mekong Delta

Guest cyclists: Han and Tjerk

My parents are cycling with us and doing well. On their freshly bought citybikes they speed along the channels over tiny little shaking bridges, through roads full of drying rice. They navigate the busy citytraffic like true naturals. We were pre warned for their (by their own account) legendary unfitness but needen't have worried as they are doing great and cycle ever increasing day tours of up to 77km. Take into account the heat and the bad bikes and realize this is quite an achievement indeed.

Tjerk, the sailor, does not quite trust our map (and rightfully so, it is the best there is but that does not mean it has much detail.....) and navigates solely by compass. Imagine my skinny legged dad in his cycling shorts and floppy sunhat on a far too small bike, looking over his glasses to the tiny compass in his hand and shouting directions.... we thought it was hilarious and it seemed most locals agreed. It did take us to some of the most beautiful small backroads through ricefields, along channels, through orchards full of fruit and through lovely small villages.

We took a boat trip for one day, a rest day on another, explored markets, ate all kind of funny fruits, drank liters and liters of ice coffee, ate a lot of springrolls and really enjoyed ourselves.

At our last stop before crossing the Cambodian border it was time to get rid of the bikes. Han and Tjerk would continue to Phnom penh by boat and the idea was to donate the bikes to whomever needed them. In the end we gave them to the waitresses in our hotel. Of course they did not get it. Imagine a tourist asking you out of the blue:""Who wants to have a bike? you? ok, here you go!" it took some major sign language (it is a gift, a present, for YOU) and a lot of pushing the bikes back and forth before it was understood. Or so we thought, because the next morning just before departure someone pointed at the bikes and said:"ÿou take bike in taxi?" we hope by now it may have sunk in and they are happily cycling around.....

Unfortunately we cannot show you any pictures of this part of the trip as our camera died on the way and when transferring the memory card to the new one (birthday present for both of us from my parents - great timing!)we lost all our pictures (no worries, we have a back-up on disk on it's way to Holland so we should be fine)

Posted by Whiskey 01:52 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

4000 km: Crossing into Cambodia - Phnom Phen

View By bike to Singapore on HoYing's travel map.

Borders always get me a bit anxious. Information is often contradicting, incomplete and not often up to date. Our visa was pre-arranged and only valid for 1 more day, the border crossing we initially had in mind, after a bit of asking around turned out to be only for locals.

So we changed course a bit and set off for a 130 km stretch to Phnom Penh to meet up with Wietskes parents once more. We finished the first 30 km of the day easy, stopped for a coffee, and expected only 10 km more to the border (on the Mekong). When after 15 km there was still no border (though a river as indicated on the map) we started asking, and got conflicting directions. So we continued and after a while I checked the compass. Instead of going due North we were going due South..... but the river was on the correct side....... “the compass must be wrong” I thought.....realising that I was not in a very good shape contesting the working of an ordinary compass........

Yeah you got it, we me a circle and ended up exactly where we started (with 45 km in our pockets)......

So we started again, and found out that there was a ferry in the small alley right across from the point where we had had coffee earlier.

The border itself was the most bizarre I have seen so far. Set along the Mekong river on one hand and endless rice fields on the other, there were no cities, just a very narrow dirt road with a small village. The customs offices are spread around town, so we had a noodle soup in no-man’s land! From there this dirt road continued without junctions for 50 km to the first town. There (after 130 km) we hitched a ride on a mini bus and made it in time to have farewell dinner with Han and Tjerk!

Phnom Phen is the biggest and most up-beat city we have seen since south China. The riverfront with Colonial buildings with fancy bars and good restaurants could be in the Cote dÁzur in France. The royal palace and temples around give it a Thai feel. Though all the US dollars on the menu, make it a bit of a theme park. To top it, having a tuk-tuk driver trying to get a ride with: “Hello sir, wanna go Killing Fields?” These fields and the former prison are 2 major attractions....... or should I say testimonies of the dark side of mankind.....




Tomorrow we’re off on our road to Angkor Wat (3-4 days)

Posted by HoYing 02:36 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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