We love Vietnam!
We arrived at the border to get our passports stamped and Paul went first while I waited an appropriate distance behind him. As Paul was having his visa inspected, a man walked past me and set his passport on the counter and sure enough, his was next to be processed…clearly the yellow line means nothing! I noticed a woman walking up to the counter and not wanting her to get ahead of me, I leapt sideways, squeezing my way between her and Paul – think the classic Michael Jordan image (this is still a current reference isn’t it?!) only instead of a ball and a net it’s my passport and the Vietnamese immigration counter! I showed her! The joke turned out to be on me when about 10 other people casually walked up and added their passports to the stack, leaving mine on the bottom of the pile and last to be processed.
We got to Ho Chi Minh City that same day and managed to cycle into the city. Thankfully there was a separate motorbike lane we could use, which meant we were separate from the bigger traffic, but there were so many motorbikes it was hard to keep track of each other in the crowd. It sounds initimidating, but it was actually better cycling than walking because you’re moving at the same speed as the motorbikes and the sidewalks are actually for motorbike parking, so you end up having to walk with the traffic anyway.
HCMC, while abosultely crazy, had so many cool alleys filled with hotels, cafes and pubs. We spent most of our time in these places, mostly because we were able to walk around easily. On our first day we were standing at a crossing of a busy street that didn’t have lights (not that lights would make a difference) wondering how we’d ever get a break in traffic to make a run for it, when a man told us to follow him and stopped all the traffic while we used him as a human shield!
We didn’t spend much time in HCMC before heading up the coast. The first week we found some incredibile beach camping and even though the last three weeks we’ve been biking in rain and 50km per hour headwinds, the scenery is stunning! The southeast coast is only starting to be developed and resorts are in the process of being built but the roads are finished, so we’ve had great seaside biking on new roads with hardly any traffic.
This was at one of the beach camps…no filter needed for this!
These are two tiles on the bathroom wall of our hotel in Nha Trang. Just these two – the rest were normal and not creepy, but these two babies, with their lipstick and nail polish, looked over the toilet!
Bia tu’oi or bia hoi – fresh beer brewed on the streets of Vietnam that sells for about $1 for 2L! It was actually better than the bottled stuff we’ve been drinking!
Ghenh Da Dia – the Giant’s Causeway of Vietnam!
Beautiful rice fields surrounded by mountains. What you don’t know is, while riding through this tranquil looking countryside, in the distance is the sound of the local residents singing karaoke from their homes through the loudest speakers I’ve ever heard in my life! No one is singing a tune from the Ducky’s songbook either. Most songs are so depressing sounding I keep waiting for weeping to start mid song. We stopped at a shop one day and the owner started singing her baby to sleep but then switched on her mic so the whole village heard the performance! It’s hilarious! If there were a contest for the worst music, Vietnam would win. It’s kind of like gangnam style mixed with Scooter from the 90s. Those lovely beach photos earlier…this kind of music was blaring. Ever heard gangnam style Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? We have!
When we’re in smaller towns our choice of hotels is pretty slim and the hotels of rural Vietnam seem to love rock hard mattresses. This one (and the previous two nights) were so hard we slept on our camping mats!
We arrived in Hoi An after a long couple of days. Paul has had three broken pedals – his original ones somehow cracked and completely broke and the replacements broke after only three days and now we’re constantly on the lookout for bike shops. Paul also woke up the other morning with an upset stomach, but because we were in some one horse town in the middle of nowhere sleeping on a cement bed, we decided to move on. We made it about 30km before Paul projectile vomited onto the road while riding his bike! Five seconds later a kid on a bike rode through it like he was riding through a puddle and didn’t even seem to care! Paul has since recovered.
Hoi An was beautiful and after a couple of nice days we headed over the Hai Van Pass and onto Hue. Apparently Top Gear named the Hai Van road one of the best coast roads in the world. It was a tough cycle up and while some people were impressed, others were confused why we didn’t just use motorbikes (a fair question!). On the way up, a woman asked Paul why he wasn’t using a motorbike. When he didn’t have an answer other than we’re idiots, she seemed to genuinely feel bad for us!
Well earned beers at the top of the pass.
This was at a cafe in Hue. The guy working took a sneaky photo of us.
At the moment we’re in a border town in Vietnam and will cross into Laos in the morning. The plan so far is to head north!