Mekong Delta II

•January 13, 2011 • 1 Comment

Unfortunately we both have a cold, which isn’t helping our enjoyment of this rather lovely place. It’s really very lush, with many more flowers, both wild and cultivated than we have seen anywhere else on the trip. Apart from one leg of the journey, we have managed to stay completely off Highway One, which is a relief. Cycling along narrow roads bordered on either side by small canals clogged with water plants and themselves lined by tall reeds, we are given the impression that we are surrounded by dense, untamed vegetation. Suddenly we’ll cross a bridge, leave the water behind and realise that we are in fact basically cycling through an enormous rice field, and it is only along the immediate riverside that the vegetation is unmanaged. Of course, the rice fields themselves are also water-based, and the only really dry parts of this area are the roads and (usually) the houses. To get to many houses from the road you have to cross a bridge over a private moat.

As you can imagine, water transport is very important, and definitely more practical than using the roads. Highway One is the same as ever, but any other road has a tendency to degenerate without warning into a single-lane bike track or, most excitingly, a river. This is probably why this region has so many water markets. Vendors turn up in the morning with a boat full of pineapples, or other produce, then buyers on smaller boats buy what they need, and ferry them back to their own villages. The water market we visited, at Cai Rang, is one of the larger markets, and is mainly wholesale. There would be ten or twenty boats all selling watermelons, followed by a group selling pineapples, followed by a group selling turnips. The sellers in their larger boats remain stationary, as the buyers move between them. I particularly liked the way the vendors would hoist an example of their merchandise up onto a stick, as though it were a flag, to signify what goods they had.

After we visited the water market, our boatman took us on a roundabout route back to town along several smaller canals. It was fun to see the canals from a different angle. It really is incredible how choked with plant life they are, and how vital they are to this area’s transportation network. Sadly, we are now leaving the Mekong delta behind us. We have one more stop before heading for Cambodia – the island of Phu Quoc, in the Gulf of Thailand. This Vietnamese island was formerly the Cambodian island of Koh Tral, so perhaps it will be a taste of things to come.

Photos of the Delta can be found here

We will be updating stats and maps soon

Mekong Delta I

•January 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

We fought our way out of Ho Chi Minh without too many close calls and headed into the Mekong Delta region. The delta, as you’d expect, is famous for its lush scenery and reliance on water travel. At its delta, the Mekong splits into nine main rivers (sometimes known as the nine dragons), and literally hundreds of streams, rivers, and canals divide up the land with rice fields and other crops in between. Boat tours and floating markets are the things most tourists hit, and we plan to do so.

Once we had our bearings and were sufficiently out of the city, we decided to finally leave highway one behind and try out one of the dozens of small highways criss-crossing the region. The land away from the main highway is much prettier so you’re able to actually enjoy the lushness that is advertised in guidebooks. On our second day navigating the smaller roads, we also enjoyed the ferries that are required on a regular basis. Travelling only 40 miles, we needed to take 4 ferries of varying size to cross small canals and large rivers. Two of these ferries came as a complete surprise to us, as our maps just showed an unbroken road. The only setback we’ve encountered is the unreliable roadwork, which at its worst varies from large rocky gravel to slabs of concrete lined up and only wide enough for one bike.

The Mekong Delta locals have been more welcoming than most places in Vietnam. The waves, smiles, and greetings all seem genuine and warm. They also love hammocks here – many of the roadside cafes have more hammocks hung for guests than chairs, which we have not taken advantage of enough.

The food so far has been fairly standard fare, with us mostly relying on still delicious beef pho. One thing we haven’t mentioned in detail is just how cheap great food can be in this country. A couple of nights ago we went to a pretty swanky looking restaurant on a boat in one of the many rivers. Waiters in bow ties, greeters at the gangplank; it was the sort of place we would check the prices before sitting down. But we enjoyed a starter of squid spring rolls, bbq’d beef wrapped in leaves, fried rice, a huge Tilapia fish cooked perfectly with garlic and peppercorns, four beers and a cup of tea – all for less than $15. That meal was abnormally good, but the pricing was pretty standard and makes for cheap travel.

Photos are coming soon!

Ho Chi Minh City

•January 9, 2011 • 2 Comments

After a long, sleepy train journey, it was something of a shock to emerge from the train station into the full-on chaos of an evening in Ho Chi Minh City. There are about 7 million people living here, and at nearly any time of the day it feels like at least half of them are riding round on their motorbikes. The roads, and often the pavements, are completely clogged with them, and there are relatively few cars, buses or even bicycles. After a white-knuckle ride to our hotel, we put our bikes in the garage and forgot about them for our entire stay.

Our hotel was in a great central location, right next to Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace, it is perhaps not quite as famous as its front gate. The image of a North Vietnamese tank crashing through its gates in April 1975 was the symbol of the end of the war, and is a picture that we’ve seen many times. Beyond the gate, the Palace was a great place to visit, as it has been left virtually untouched since that day. As the home and office of the president of South Vietnam from 1967, it was very interesting – especially the underground offices and map rooms.

We stayed in HCMC for six days, and managed quite a lot of tourism. The War Remnants Museum, which mostly displayed photographs of the Vietnam conflict from the 1950s to the 1970s, was notable and moving. Particularly good was an international exhibition of photographs whose captions mostly focused on the role (and fate) of the photographers. The rest of the museum was perhaps a little bit heavy on the propaganda, as were several other sites we visited.

Having missed the tunnels up north near the former DMZ, we were excited to visit the Cu Chi tunnels, just 70 km north of HCMC and right on the Cambodian border. They were built in the 1960s and functioned as a hideaway and base for the Viet Cong in the area, and as a bomb shelter for local villagers. Although the tunnel network and the fifteen minute propaganda video made in the 1960s were both very interesting, the actual tour was, as ever, something of a disappointment. After spending a good 40 mins hanging about outside a factory shop thinly disguised as a toilet stop on the drive to the tunnels, we then had very little time actually at the main attraction. The tunnels were a full-scale tourist site, and although it was extremely busy and we had little time, they are fairly well done. The attractions include a chance to go down several tunnels (if you had time), examples of the traps created by Viet Cong, and a gun range. The gun-range was something of an inspired addition to the site. Firing an AK-47 at a dollar a bullet wasn’t something either of us really wanted to try, but the sounds of the guns did make the whole experience more atmospheric.

HCMC was interesting rather than beautiful; a few impressive buildings – such as the post office – and a number of tree filled parks provided some charm. We wandered around the centre of the city quite a lot – though didn’t appreciate the city’s sprawling size until we tried to cycle out of it. Its reputation as the third most expensive city in SE Asia is well deserved; somehow we managed to go over-budget every day. I think it was mostly all the great food. After six days of constant eating and no cycling we’re probably weighing our bikes down a bit too much now. But we’re off again, and heading into the Mekong delta, which we’re really looking forward to.

Photos from HCMC can be found here

Pages updated: Maps, Statistics, Photos, Food

Mui Ne

•January 2, 2011 • 4 Comments

The last few days were spent travelling to Mui Ne, another beach resort town 170 miles southwest of Nha Trang. The first day out of Nha Trang was our most impressive day yet for distance, finishing up at 67.5 miles (107 km). Other than that, the day was just another typical day of cycling through the flat rice fields of Vietnam. After about 35 miles, mountains began to crowd in from all sides and we could see no way that our road could avoid them, but as it has so many times before, Highway One somehow wiggled around them and remained flat. In the last 20 miles, we were gifted with an impressive tailwind for the first time in our journey, which was so strong we did not even need to pedal. The land also grew much more desolate; despite everything remaining flat, farmed fields were less common, and we saw our first sheep grazing on the scrubland. We spent the night in a small town called Phan Rang, which made very little impression on us.

On the 27th we also managed a pretty impressive distance, stopping in a small town called Cho Lau. Another typical day, another unremarkable small town, another bowl of beef pho. That left us only about 30 miles to go on day three, which was a good job, as this last bit of the road was a lot more hilly. We had to turn off the One onto a much smaller road, the 715, to get to Mui Ne. The landscape changed dramatically, as you can see from the photos, becoming much drier, and eventually giving way to sand dunes and sandy scrubland as we got close to the coast. It was quite pretty, but not the nicest we’ve seen in Vietnam. Unfortunately the verge was also covered in litter in several areas. But we did get to see some countryside, as the area is quite desolate and doesn’t suffer the strip development that we’ve seen along most of the QL1A.

Mui Ne is actually a small, bustling fishing town. But the Mui Ne that the tourists know is the beach that stretches to the south-west of town, and which is completely lined with hotels, resorts and restaurants. This ‘strip’ is also about 5 miles long, with the cheaper hotels at one end, and most of the restaurants towards the other, which made getting around a bit of a pain. Unlike Quy Nhon, this area is not a proper town, so there is no municipal beach, and instead the coastline is divided into many ‘private beaches’ belonging to the restaurants and resorts – who can be very strict about access. We found a nice complex with a private beach, a pool, and individual bungalows for rent. The beach was ok, and nicely lined with palm trees, but generally I think we preferred Quy Nhon. Mui Ne’s beach was too littered with debris – and not just the natural, acceptable shells and dead jelly fish, but also cigarette butts, bricks and, bizarrely, old discarded clothing.

Our journey through Vietnam so far has followed Highway One, which has an incredible ability to remain flat when there are mountains all around. The main north-south train line also utilises this miraculous route. Having seen a lot of trains chug past us, and not being particularly excited about a long cycle through the huge Ho Chi Minh City suburbs, we decided to cycle to the nearest train station at Phan Thiet and get a train for the last 200 km to HCMC. Trains don’t go very fast in Vietnam – ours averaged about 25 mph, but they are quite comfy and air-conditioned, so it was a nice journey. As so many people ride motorbikes here, the last carriage in the train was purely for storing two-wheeled vehicles, so the bikes were no problem whatsoever. Ho Chi Minh City will be the biggest place we’ve been to since Shanghai, and is sure to be quite a change of pace.


This post covers December 26th to 30th, sorry for the delay in posting, and happy new year!

Pictures from this post can be found here

Other Pages Updated: Maps, Statistics, Pictures

Merry Christmas!

•December 25, 2010 • 4 Comments

We made it to Nha Trang on Christmas Eve, and checked into our sea front hotel. We have a great room, and a balcony overlooking the beach. We spent Christmas day lounging on the beach, drinking coconuts and reading. All in all a very pleasant day. We’re going to a French restaurant for dinner, as Nha Trang is a big tourist town with a wide variety of restaurants. Tomorrow we’re back on the bikes, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, and will make it to Ho Chi Minh City for New Year.

Merry Christmas to everyone, I hope you have as great a time as we did!


Photos from the last leg of our journey, and of Nha Trang, can be found here

Updated: food, maps, photos

Quy Nhon

•December 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

In case anyone is carefully following our progress on the map, we spent a night in Quang Ngai, then cycled on down Highway One as far as we could go before stopping in a hotel a few miles outside of Bong Son. Both places had fairly limited options for food, so we ended up having beef pho four meals out of six. But yesterday we arrived in Quy Nhon, which we had heard had nice beaches. Quy Nhon is only 230 km north of Nha Trang, so we decided to take a rest day and relax for a bit. The journey here was mostly uneventful…but Matthew’s bike is starting to feel the strain. First his chain got almost irretrievably wedged between two sprockets. Who knows what kind of permanent damage we may have caused getting that out. Then his front luggage rack broke about 20 km out of Quy Nhon. We should be able to get that welded back together, but for now we both have just one of the front panniers, which makes for some slightly wobbly steering.

Quy Nhon was a lot of fun. It’s on a peninsula, and therefore surrounded by beaches. It’s a busy little city, which has a lot of fishing, and not a lot of tourism. There aren’t many cars here, but the streets are swarming with motorbikes. On our first night we ate dinner at a restaurant on a pier over the ocean, and enjoyed it so much that we went there again tonight. We ordered completely different food, so it’s not as boring as it sounds. Pictures are on the food page. We had a great rest day, and looking back, it seems that a day at the seaside is pretty similar wherever you go. We slept in late, then had fish and chips for lunch at the town’s one backpacker cafe. They weren’t bad. We spent the afternoon on the beach, chasing crabs and building rivers and moats. Then we rounded off the day with ice cream sundaes at a completely empty ice cream parlour in the centre of town. Although the restaurant itself was empty, it was popular with locals as a bulk-buy take-away ice cream shop. We haven’t really seen big supermarkets in Vietnam, people still seem to buy food at markets, bakeries, butchers etc.

So all in all an excellent rest day. Thanks again for all the comments, and I hope everyone is enjoying the run up to Christmas. Quite a few shops here are decked out with tinsel and pumping out the Christmas tunes so we’re starting to feel pretty seasonal here ourselves.


Photos from this post can be found here

Updated: statistics, food, maps, photos

Hoi An

•December 21, 2010 • 3 Comments

Well Hoi An was pretty nice. As you can see from the pictures, the old town was mainly crumbly yellow buildings lining narrow streets close to the river. The settlement was originally founded by the Champa empire, and was their main port. After the Cham people were absorbed into a greater Vietnamese Empire, Hoi An remained a trading town, and was inhabited by merchants from all over the world. The importance of the town began to decline for reasons geographic and political in the 18th century, and nearby Danang became the centre of trade for the region. As a forgotten backwater, Hoi An preserved a lot of its old architecture and traditional crafts, which now makes it a popular tourist destination.

A little too popular for its own good really. It reminds me of most of the water towns surrounding Shanghai, and also of Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan. Most of the charm and atmosphere of the place is lost, as every single old house has become a shop, restaurant or bar in order to cash in on the many tourists here to enjoy the charm and atmosphere. Luang Prabang just about managed the delicate balance between exploiting the visiting wallets and retaining the charm, but Hoi An doesn’t quite. Still it was pleasant enough, especially when sitting in one of the many bars or restaurants by the river in the evening, and walking home after many of the shops had closed.

It’s a good job it was a pleasant place to just sit about in, because Matthew was struck down by illness again, and we got to visit another SE Asian hospital. Yet again a throat infection was diagnosed, and yet again antibiotics and paracetamol were prescribed. So poor Matt spent most of our four days in Hoi An in bed. By Saturday he was feeling a bit better, so we decided to go on a day trip to nearby My Son, site of some Champa ruins. Most of the stuff we saw in the museum in Danang had been excavated from this site, and we were keen to see where it all came from.

We booked ourselves onto a tour bus to visit My Son, which at 50+ km outside of town was a little too far for a relaxing day trip on a bike. The bus was almost full, but air-conditioned and comfortable enough for the hour and a half it took to get there. The ruins themselves were an interesting and unique sight for both of us. A pleasant change of pace from the Chinese Buddhist temples, the ancient Champa temple ruins (10th-ish century) were more akin to something out of India (or Indiana Jones). Only a few buildings remain standing, or have been painstakingly reconstructed from their scattered bricks, while others were just large piles of half-eroded bricks. Most of the stuff we saw in the museum had been carved out of sandstone, but here we also saw figures on the outsides of the buildings carved out of bricks, which was interesting and different. We were only given and hour and a half to wander around until the bus left, but it was sufficient time and the entire trip a worthwhile visit.

We are now on something of a deadline to get to Nha Trang (530 km south) by Christmas Eve, and all that time in Hoi An meant things were looking a bit tight. So we decided to again hop on a bus. We took a night bus that was going all the way from Hoi An to Nha Trang (about 11 hours), and hopped off after 135 km in the town of Quang Ngai. Well. It’s hard to hop off a bus with 7 bags and two bikes, but anyway, we got off at Quang Ngai, and found a hotel and a late night bowl of noodles. Tomorrow we’re back on the bikes, and again heading south.


Photos from this post can be found here and here

ln which we meet an unexpected mountain

•December 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We set off from Hue mid-morning, passing by Hue cathedral, which has a very interesting three-tiered pagoda-like steeple. Though we had conflicting reports on distance, it seemed like it was going to be up to 100 km to Danang. It might just have been the sunny weather, or the restorative effects of four days relaxing in Hue, but the scenery seemed nicer and the traffic lighter on Highway 1 south.

The first 60 km were almost entirely flat, except for a small hill pass which we had to cross to get into Lang Co. Lang Co is a small town on a sort of peninsula, with the sea on one side, a salty lagoon on the other, and mountains rising on all sides that aren’t ocean. At this point the GPS was confidently predicting that we had only about 20 miles to go to Danang. We were feeling pretty good about life, right up to the point where we discovered that two-wheeled vehicles were barred from the nice new tunnel, and that we would instead have to follow the old road up and over the mountain to the south.

So that added a 1500 ft ascent and maybe 8 miles to the day, and meant we eventually arrived in Danang in the dark. It was tough going, as we have been spoiled into laziness by the flatlands in the last two weeks, and particularly as we had no clear idea of how high we were going or for how long. But I think it was no coincidence that with the climb and the old road we also got some of the most beautiful, quiet cycling we have had so far in Vietnam. The fading light over the ocean and lowering clouds over the mountains were spectacular. The pass itself, the Hai Van Pass, was an eerie place. The ruins of a former American bunker loom over the road, and were almost lost in the darkness and clouds by the time we got there.

Danang is one of Vietnam’s biggest cities, and the economic centre of central Vietnam. I quite liked it, though it’s not a typical tourist destination. The crazy traffic made us feel like we were back in Shanghai, and there are even some small “skyscrapers” by the river. The only official tourist destination in Danang is the Museum of Cham Sculpture, which made for a very interesting morning. The Cham empire ruled this area of Vietnam between the 2nd and 10th centuries, and were influenced by Indian culture and religions. The sculptures on display were mostly made of sandstone; many of them very intricate and well-preserved. We hope to visit some of the Cham ruins where these artefacts were found later in the trip.

In the afternoon we set off on the 30 km ride to Hoi An, via Danang’s beach, My Khe. The beach was really nice, but oddly deserted – probably as swimming is prohibited due to strong currents. We rode on small roads to Hoi An, and again it was much more enjoyable cycling. We’ll probably start trying to use the smaller roads as we continue south. But Hoi An is another Unesco site, and we’ll be staying for a few days to enjoy it.


Photos from this post can be found here


•December 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The city of Hue has been our first true taste of Vietnamese tourism. About 50 km outside the city, at the DMZ, was the first time we’d seen other foreign tourists since leaving Laos five days prior. The population of tourists just increased as we approached Hue, though we were pleasantly surprised to find Hue is more of a functioning city for both locals and foreigners as opposed to the Disneyland-esque tourist cities of Laos.

For those uninformed on Vietnamese geography (as Matthew was until about 5 days ago), Hue is on the coast of central Vietnam 50 km south of the former DMZ that divided Northern and Southern Vietnam. Under the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty it was the political capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. The city is divided by the ‘Perfume River.’ The main attractions of Hue are the citadel (a walled old-city on the northern bank of the river) and a series of temples and tombs south of Hue, also along the river. Many tourist agencies in the city also offer day trips to the DMZ, but as we had cycled through it we chose to skip that.

We spent our first day in Hue exploring the citadel by bicycle. The first stop was the Imperial Palace, an inner walled section and supposed highlight of the citadel. Much of the palace had been destroyed in WW2 and the Vietnam War, so it consists of either rebuilt sections from the last two decades or the original foundations of buildings yet to be reconstructed. They seem to be hard at work making it all shiny and new, but the original foundations are more atmospheric. Outside of the inner palace, the citadel is a huge area of canals, narrow streets, and the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life. Cycling around this section of the citadel was very pleasant and, in our opinion, more enjoyable than the palace and the nicest afternoon we’ve spent in Vietnam.

The next day we joined a boat tour to visit the many temples around the city. Our tour included one temple, three tombs, a pagoda, and a visit to an incense making village. The sites themselves were quite interesting, but the experience of being on a tour was less thrilling. The temples, being buddhist, were hard to tell apart from Chinese ones to our untrained eyes. They were even liberally decorated with Chinese characters. Like many Asian languages, Vietnamese was originally written using Chinese characters. However, since the early 20th century a Vietnamese alphabet designed by a French jesuit in the 17th Century has become the official form of writing. The tombs were also quite similar to ones we have seen in China – a symmetrical avenue lined with sculpted soldiers leading through gates and pavilions to a large grassy mound where the body is entombed. Disappointingly, the ‘underground palace’ which forms the actual tomb has not been excavated and opened to tourists. It was particularly interesting to note the influence of French culture on later Nguyen emperors, as can be seen in our photos.

Hue has many restaurants offering Vietnamese and European cuisine for tourists. Most of the locals seem to eat at home or in little roadside eateries which are often literally just a few plastic stools clustered around a lady selling pho (soup with rice noodles) on a street corner. We get to eat that sort of thing so much when ‘on the road’ that we have been giving them a miss in Hue. One aspect of European cuisine has made a big impact on the locals – French baguettes. These are on sale from many street stalls, and there were big crowds in the supermarket waiting patiently for fresh ones to come from the ovens. They are so ingrained in the local culture that a street seller in Dong Hoi had even devised her own use for stale baguettes – she sliced them up, dipped them in a spiced batter with onions and deep-fried them.

We’ve been enjoying the food, and are going to another French restaurant tonight to try again to answer the question about the nature of French cuisine. Many thanks for your attempt to clarify that, Matthieu. Thanks to all of the people who have commented, its good to get feedback. Tomorrow we continue south. We hope to make it to Ho Chi Minh City for New Year. That’s over 1000 km away, so we’d better get a move on.


Photos from this post can be found here and here

Not a Typical Day

•December 11, 2010 • 3 Comments

We set off from Dong Hoi, a reasonable sized town on a river, with the intention of cycling the 95 km to Dong Ha, south of the former DMZ. This would leave us 60 km to get to Hue, our first real tourist destination. As an aside, forgive us for constantly switching between kilometers and miles. Our brains and our GPS work in miles, but the mile markers are actually kilometer markers as that is standard currency here.

30 km into the day, Alison’s back tire went flat. We pulled into a small roadside shop with the hope of getting some food and fixing the tire in a leisurely manner out of the wind. As soon as we started working on the flat, a crowd began to form. At its peak, we were dealing with 30-40 people crowded extremely close staring wide-eyed. Seeing a couple of white people fixing a flat tire is fascinating. There’s a lot of variation in staring you get as a foreigner throughout asia. Mostly in China and Laos it’s less obtrusive since they usually remain where they are and stare from a distance. In Vietnam they insist on getting right on top of you and have no qualms about poking or grabbing you or your things. This annoyed us to no end, so we stopped halfway through to snack and read, in the hope that the crowd would disperse.

This only worked to a certain extent. Once numbers got below ten we decided to continue with the bikes. Unlike these apparently unemployed Vietnamese men, we didn’t have the time or patience to sit around all day waiting for something to change. Needless to say, as soon as we started working again the crowd multiplied. Eventually we got the tire fixed and back on, and prepared to leave. Which was when Matthew noticed that his KIndle was missing. Much panicked searching ensued, and the crowd also started to get worried. Apparently they had assumed Matthew’s Kindle was a laptop, and somebody in the crowd had quietly lifted it from the open bag as we were fixing the tire.

Of course, no-one spoke English in this roadside shop in a village in the middle of nowhere, but our guidebook did include the phrase ‘call the police’ and we were able to illustrate with sign language the item that we were missing and what had happened. The policeman, when he arrived on his old scooter did not inspire confidence. But after listening to the tale from the shopkeeper he mumbled something and left, motioning us to wait. A new arrival, a middle-aged lady, spoke some form of English, and explained that he had actually gone off to knock on doors and look for it. This didn’t sound too hopeful, but who knows what police methods are here and how effective they may be. So we sat tight for an hour or so.

After two hours of waiting, the shopkeeper won some sort of argument with English-speaking-lady, and led us (bicycles following his scooter) to the nearest ‘official’ building. Not a police station, though some police were there. Maybe the HQ of the local communist officials. Of course no-one really spoke English there either, but someone claiming to be a local English teacher ‘translated’ for us. The teacher’s level of English explains why no one speaks English around there. All we wanted at this point was a police report so Matthew’s travel insurance would reimburse him. Conveying that verbally proved to be impossible, so Alison resorted to drawing a diagram of a basic “report” and its requirements (address, names, incident, and stamp). Our translator disappeared; we later discovered him at a computer in a back room creating a ‘police report’ modeled on Alison’s fairly laughable diagram. It was all we were going to get, so we enthusiastically praised his efforts and accepted our report. It was at least signed and stamped by the local police.

We finally got back on the bikes around 4 pm, light already waning, to see how far we could make it that day. Within a couple of kilometers of the “station,” Alison’s back tire went flat again. New hole, completely different cause. After patching it in a rush, we discovered our pump was broken. Good times. We strapped the flat tire to the back of Matthew’s bike and he went off to find someone to inflate it. We set off once again and night came quickly. We asked at local shops where we could find a hotel and were able to get consistent directions for one a few kilometers away back the way we came. Alison’s tire once again goes flat.

No light, no pump, and not near a hotel is not the best situation to be in. A few locals were able to lead us to a bike repair man who dealt with Alison’s flat for us (sadly, our rushed patch job had failed). Since we hadn’t seen the hotel when we passed it the first time, and cycling at night on the now quiet highway did not feel dangerous, we decided to forge ahead to the next town which we heard was only 10 km away. It ended up being slightly further than expected, but we made it there without further incident. We never did find the time to get lunch, so dinner that night was much appreciated.

As we had covered so little distance, the next day was our longest yet, an impressive 102 km. Mile markers initially suggested it was only 90km, and later amended themselves to suggest it was 110km. We also had to make an unexpected stop in the morning, as Alison’s back tire had still not been fixed properly. A bulge in the inner was causing unpleasant bumps every time the wheel went round. A second bike repair man seemed to have fixed it…but as soon as she tried it out, the inner exploded as he had put too much air in it. Bike repair men and mile markers are not to be trusted in Vietnam. But we made it, as planned, to Hue, which we will discuss in future posts.


Photos from this post can be found here

Other Pages Updated: Pictures, Maps, Statistics, Food