25 June - Svay Rieng
Cambodia - Cu Chi Vietnam - 87km
Under scores of
“Hellos” we left Cambodia and entered Vietnam. The border
crossing was as smooth as anyone can wish for (of course, we
already had visa’s). It was well organized and it was just a
case of showing your passport, getting it stamped, and walking
Once on the road
we immediately experienced more traffic. The road was in good
condition but extremely busy. Once we reached Cu Chi we decided
to find a room and check out our new environment a bit, change
money, and check on prices. The local currency is Dong and
equates to 17 or 18 thousand dong to one US Doller. So going
to the bank leaves you coming out with a bag full of money (not
really, one note may be for 100 000 Dong).
The idea of first
going to visit the Cu Chi tunnels went out the window as it
didn’t look as exciting as I’d initially thought
I could soon tell
that the language was going to be a huge problem here. We tried
a local restaurant down the road, but with the menu was only in
Vietnamese, it was a huge task. It ended up with the restaurant
owner phoning a friend who could speak a little English - still
we did not manage to get simple meal like fried rice with
vegetables (we got shrimp rice, but I was so hungry I guzzled my
fair share, vegatarian or not).
26 June -
Cu Chi - Saigon - 38km
With over 3
million motorcycles in Saigon, I have never in my life seen
so many motorcycles! Saigon is a vast sprawling area, spreading
nearly all the way from the Cambodian border to the South China
Sea. Needless to say it was a short but stressful ride. Once
in the city centre it was still the task of finding
accommodation. There were hundreds of hotels, but finding a
specific one was quite a task.
We took a walk to
the market to stock up with the normal essentials. Ernest bought
some new underwear/pajamas at a road stall, thank goodness for
that (and not just any old shorts, but Kalvin Klein – the price
seems to suggest it may be a reject, so we’ll have to see if it
Saigon is a modern
buzzing city were one can find tall slick skyscrapers next to
ramshackle eateries and motorbike repair shops. The strange
thing is also that everyone refers to the city by its old name
Saigon instead of T.P. Ho Chi Ming city, but the only one’s who
refer to it by it’s proper name seems to be the officaldom.
It is most
interesting to watch the thousands of motorbikes zooting through
town. Their balance on these bikes is quite extraordinary as
they seem to carry on with their daily life whilst driving. From
smoking, talking on cellphones, feeding their babies and
delivering bowls of noodle soup balancing on one hand. It is
also not uncommon to see someone just released from hospital, on
the back of a bike with drip still attached to the arm.
We spent most of
the day in our hotel room. Ernest discovered super sport one on
TV and lo and behold would we not see South Africa playing the
British Lions. What a good thing we won, it would have been
pretty sad sitting here and watching them loose. Ernest,
needless to say, celebrated with the local brew.
28 June -
Saigon - Cia Ray - 72km
We cycled through
the traffic for close to fifty km - the city just carried on and
on. There was little to see besides highway and traffic.
Fortunately there is a motorbike lane, which appears busier than
the car lane. There are indeed more motorbikes than cars on the
road, but at least one is out of the way of the trucks and
remains a big problem, just as you thought you had figured out
the word for hotel or vegetables; you discover that the same
word also means something else. One word can mean up to five
different things it all depends on how you pronounce it.
29 June - Cia
Ray - Phan Thiet - 96 km
Another day of
nothing spectacular on the road, there appears to be little of
whatever I expected of Vietnam here. Although may children
shout “hello”, we even had the occasional “F….k You” shouted at
us. Along the way we stopped to enjoy some of the local green
guava which they eat with salt and chilly.
We stopped in Phan Thiet so I could see if I could have my laptop fixed. It
is, however, very difficult to explain what I want done if no
one speaks English. Just to find out what number to dial in
order to get the balance on my cell phone took about half an
Phan Thiet is a
rather smelly town, I understand that they produce some
seventeen million litres of fish sauce per annum, no wonder
there is a bit of a smell in the air. It has however quite a
pretty river harbor with all the fishing boats.
June - 1 July - Phan Thiet - Mui
Ne Beach - 37 km
It was a short ride up
the coast to the seaside village of Mui Ne. It is such a small
place that we even overshot it and only discovered about 6km
later that we have already past it. We turned around and found
a room right on the beach.
my first swim in the South China Sea, and it was not as warm as
2 July - Mui Ne Beach
We spent 2 days at
Mui Ne Beach as we discovered a problem with the bottom bracket
on my bike when we were about to leave. Ernest managed to do a
makeshift job at fixing the problematic BB, but what’s needed is
a new one. In the mean time I enjoyed the beach and the
excellent Vietnamese coffee. Fortunately they serve it with
extra hot water as traditionally they drink their coffee very
strong with loads of condensed milk.
3 July - Mui Ne Beach
- Ca Na - 134 km
We set off again,
me on my ageing bike, and the road lay flat and wide in front of
us. The bike squeaked and rattled and with every turn of the
peddle there was a clacking sound. So all clacketing we went
down the road. The climate was more arid around here, and much
of the cultivated vegetation consisted of cactus type plants
(devil fruit) - meaning less rain and more heat.
4 July - Ca Na
- Nha Trang - 140km
It appears that
people here sleep a lot especially during the heat of the day
(siesta). Everywhere there are people sleeping in hammocks. Even
in shops a person first has to wake up the shopkeeper to get any
service. Another long day on the bike, my legs just went around
and around, I was quite tired by the time we found a room. After
Ernest had cooked, I just ate my noodles and went to bed.
5 July - Nha Trang
As there was quite
a bit to see in Nha Trang we stayed another day and took a walk
down the beach and had a swim. I walked to the historic Cham
towers on a little outcrop just outside the centre of town, and
also took a motorbike taxi to the White Buddha on top a little
6 July - Nha Trang
I took the famous
Mama Linh’s Boat Tours (more a party boat than anything else) to
some of the nearby islands. The trip included, snorkeling,
music, dancing and a floating bar, lunch and loads of fruit.
Needless to say it was a good day out. That night I splashed out
on a pizza, after months of instant noodles it went down very,
7 July - Nha Trang
- Tuy Hoa - 130 km
I felt strong
after my pizza the previous night. The most beautiful and scenic
day on the road so far in Vietnam. The road followed the coast
for most of the day and it was a day of color with turquoise
sea, blue mountains and a cloudless sky. The times when the road
ran away from the coast, we cycled amongst emerald-green rice
paddies tended by grass-hatted peasants. Now it felt that I was
definitely in Vietnam.
8 July - Tuy
Hoa - Quy Nhon - 102 km
A very hilly but
stunning day again. These views definitely do not come without
hard work, cycling up some very steep hills. It was incredibly
hot and we sweated buckets. Past small villages, with people
drying their rice, coconut, and cassava on the road, and past
picturesque fishing harbours.
There were plenty
of food stalls next to the road, with people sitting on
kindergarden plastic chairs, eating their noodle soup. The
people here are very tiny and these chairs are far too small for
me, my knees come up past my ears when I try and sit on them.
With our arrival
in Quy Nhon, we found that all budget accommodation was fully
booked, due to university entrance exams taking place at this
time – relating to fifty thousand additional people in the city.
We ended up in a very fancy and expensive hotel, the smartest
and most expense I have every stayed in on this trip. At least
the price included a buffet breakfast, and that’s where they
lost all their profit. Never ever give a cyclist a buffet
breakfast, or for that matter any kind of buffet.
9 July - Quy Nhon
- Sa Huynh - 118 km
The road left the
coast and headed inland over the hills; it was a very, very hot
day again and combined with an equally hot wind, it made the
going rather tough. Many times on this trip I have been asked
the question, “Why are you doing this?” Today I doubted my
sanity again. Only mad dogs and two South Africans were out in
the midday heat. Even the locals take shelter and rest in
hammocks under the trees.
But we carried on,
up and over the hills until in the gathering dusk we finally
arrived at Sa Huynh where we found a room right on the beach.
The room had seen better days but at the price it was a bargain,
it even came with air con and a bathtub. The hot water system
must have been faulty, as the water from the tap was so hot that
it burned a huge blister on my arm.
Sa Huynh is a
small village with a beautiful stretch of beach without any
tourists, so it’s heaven.
10 July -
Sa Huynh - My Khe Beach - 79km
I was up early to
catch the sunrise over the South China Sea. Even at that early
hour I could feel it was going to be another scorcher of a day.
I was not wrong about that either, so what else is there to do,
but do like the locals and rest in the shade in a hammock at a
little roadside café..
Along the way
Ernest bought himself a new saddle and was keen to get to the
end of the day to fit it on the bike. His old saddle had done
service for the duration of the trip, and was being held
together by duct tape.
We turned off the
highway at Quang Ngai to visit Son My Memorial site. This is the
site where more than five hundred villagers were massacred by
American GI’s on 16 March 1968 (known as the My Lai Massacre).
The soldiers involved were sworn to secrecy, but the news
eventually leaked out - after which the area was bombed and
plowed over to erase the evidence. The event was photographed by
a US military photographer, and some of these photos are now on
display in a museum on site.
On a somber note
we set off for the beach just 2km down the road and found an
ageing wooden bungalow on stilts, just across the road from the
beach. We found the sea water to be luke warm, and as it was a
Friday evening there were thousands of locals at the beach,
mostly from nearby Quang Ngai, enjoying the start of the
11 July -
My Khe Beach - Vinh Dien - 125 km
A long hard day on
the bike, again very, very hot, this time it was only two South
Africans out in the midday heat - even the mad dogs took cover.
If there was a thing like spontaneous combustion, I’m sure I
would have burst into flames. We finally reached the town of
Vinh Dien, the turnoff for Hoi An. We decided to sleep there and
carry on to Hoi An in the morning as it was already getting
dark. We found a little café with rooms at the back at a
reasonable price (according to the motorcycle taxi who pointed
the place out to us).
- Hoi An
It was a short
ride to Hoi An, but we found the price of accommodation had
risen somewhat since our guide book was published. In the search
for a cheap room Ernest and I lost each other in the chaos of
tourists, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians in the narrow
streets. About half of the distance this day was cycled in the
search before we managed to get together again. Hoi An is
mentioned as a “must visit” on a trip to Vietnam, and has a
historic Old Town which is the major attraction. About 55 km
away is the My Son ancient Cham ruins (the bit which was left
was partly destroyed by the Americans during the war), but I
decided not to go there. I was coming down with flu, so decided
to rest for another day before heading North again.
My flu got worse
and worse, so we stayed another day. I hate being in the same
place for such a long time, but there was nothing to do but wait
until I feel better. I spent the rest of the day in bed,
watching the gecko’s running up and down the wall and listening
to Vietnamese TV of which we don’t understand a single word.
Hoi An is
incredibly touristy and one is constantly harrassed by touts,
grabbing hold of you “come see my shop”, “special price for
you”, “I make nice shirt for you”, “you buy something “, “very
cheap manicure, pedicure, hair removal, foot massage” - it
drives me crazy!
16 July - Hoi
An - Phu Bai - 122km
I was eager to get
out the room and on the road again, even although I still felt
rotten from my cold, which I hoped would get better. Ha. Ha get
better while cycling, no change. On a day I least needed it the
road threw three mountain passes at us. I huffed and puffed and
coughed up the passes and when the weather came in at around
half past four we found a room instead of cycling the last km’s
in the rain to Hue. At least the view up the Hai Van Pass was
Along the way the
Vietnamese stare openly at us, even calling friends and family
to come have a look at this spectacle. On more than one occasion
local women has pointed at my arms and pulled up their noses in
disgust for me not covering up. They think we craze for being
out in the midday sun getting frazzled.
17-19 July - Phu Bai
- Hue - 14km
We cycled the
short distance into Hue. I have no idea how to pronounce it;
none of the ways I’ve tried seems to be the correct one. We
handed in our passports for our visa renewal which cost quite a
bit of money but what must be done must be done.
While waiting for
the visas, I spent the next day walking around the citadel where
most of the interesting sights in Hue are located and half its
population still lives within its 2 meter thick outside walls.
Inside the citadel is the imperial enclosure as well as a 37
meter high flagpole, some beautiful temples and pagodas, which
survived the American/Vietnamese war.
Hue is located on
both banks of the Perfume River and just across the river from
where I’m staying is Hue’s largest market, the Dong Ba Market.
If you can’t find it here you won’t find it anywhere.
The Trang Tien
Bridge over the river is quite spectacular at night as it is lit
up with ever changing colorful lights. Dragonboat look-alikes
are moored along the side, begging to take anyone with cash for
a sightseeing tour along the river. Ernest also started
suffering from flu here, so now there were two of us.
20 July -
Hue - Dong Ha - 73km
Vietnam had so
many wars, first the Chinese, then the French and then the
Americans, with the result that even the smallest village has a
war memorial. Dong Ha is situated on the border of the DMZ
(Demilitarized Zone - strip of land on each side of the river
which was the border between North and South Vietnam).
Ironically it became one of the most militarized areas in
Vietnam during the American/Vietnamese war. There’s therefore no
lack of war memorials and graveyards in this area. What a waste
Another sad part
is that the local people, in spite of large warning signs, dig
around the area for leftover metal to sell as scrap. The result
being, that even now, 40 years later, people are still being
killed by left over mines and unexploded bombs, etc.
21 July -
Dong Ha - Dong Hoi - 97km
It was a boiling
hot morning again as we left. The sun baked down on us and dried
and shriveled our skins from above, while the black tarred road
radiated heat upwards leaving us drenched in sweat.
We crossed the DMZ
area, to Dong Hoi, which is situated on the northern side of the
Zone. Today this is a peaceful area, with plenty of rice
paddies. The area is littered with bomb craters which has now
filled up with water and which the locals use as fish ponds.
Hay, why not, make the best of what you have.
Along the way we
stopped for a cup of coffee, which they serve in a glass, only
about three quarters full, but as strong as hell and served with
a bowl of ice and a straw.
Before midday the
rain came down, and as there was still a long way to go, we
decided to brave the rain and continue cycling instead of taking
shelter. Luckily the showers were over in less than 2 hours, and
some of the sweat was rinsed off us.
Dong Hoi is
blessed with a great location right on the river, but even here
one gets reminded of the war as you enter the town and see the
ruins of a church, bombed by the Americans. We found a room
right on the riverfront with beautiful views of the river for
seven dollars. It only had a fan and even lying under the fan
sweat was still running down me.
22 June - Dong
Hoi - Ky Anh - 107km
I was up early to
catch the sunrise over the river, what a sight. What a hard day
it was, although fairly short the sun beat down relentlessly.
Neither Ernest nor I had recovered from the flu and we felt weak
and tired. The map and distance markers along the road varied
and we could not figure out which the correct one was, until we
discovered that a new tunnel had been built. To our relief we
did not have to climb up and over the pass. We zooted the 500 m
through the tunnel in no time and emerged on the other side
where we could see the road, winding over the mountain. It did
not only cut out the pass but cut about twelve km off the
distance. Exhausted we arrived in Ky Anh and found a room, I
felt weak and dizzy and had no energy so I just ate my noodles
and went to bed.
Few people have a
concept of cycling long distance, and mostly just glaze over
when you tell them where you’re from and where you’re going. It
truly baffles them that one can cycle from one country to the
next. Why not take a bus or a motorbike, surely if you’re a
foreigner you must have loads of money? I’ve given up trying to
explain, I don’t have a decent answer for it anyhow.
Ice is a big
business here, early morning one can see ice sellers on bicycles
with huge slabs of ice going from business to business. The ice
is then put in polystyrene cooler boxes and needless to say, one
pays extra for everything coming out of that box.
23-24 July - Ky Anh
- Vinh - 107km
The morning ritual
is always the same, first some coffee and biscuits, pack the
panniers and load the bikes up. My prized possession is the
electric element for making a quick cup of coffee in the
morning. At least it’s a lot less trouble than having Ernest
start up his MSR stove.
hot day on the road, with trucks blowing warm diesel fumes and
road dust in our faces. If the going got tough all you had to do
was look up and see the beautiful scenery.
I felt dizzy and
nauseous all day, must have been the heat, but I stuck the ipod
in my ears and battled on. Must have gone through the whole lot
Creedence, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Queen, the works.
We decided to
stay another day in Vinh and recover from our flue, so we stayed
in bed and we spend the day eating. Ernest made a real great
fruit salad for lunch as well as a good green salad for supper
25 July - Vinh
- Tinh Gia - 115km
I had a much
better day on the road, I must be better from the flu, or it was
not as hot as the previous days, what ever it was, it was a
great and easy day on the road. Listened to more great music,
Eric Clapton, Jeff Buckley, Pink Floyd and Bob Marley.
Although the road
is not that busy with cars there was still a great number of
trucks and busses, all hooting like crazy when they come up
behind you, loud enough to blow you off the bike. They also seem
to drive on, what is more commonly known as, the Egyptian brake,
just hoot and go. Early morning we also witnessed a young lady
on a bicycle killed by a truck, with her family sitting weeping
around the body in the road. This put me in a very pensive
mood, it’s so final, no take two, no replay, its game over.
It took a long
time to find a suitable room at the right price in the small
town of Tinh Gia - even turning off to the nearby beach in the
process. The room which we eventually found came with the
compulsory comb and toothbrushes.
Here one can buy
“Bia Hoi”, draft beer; in a liter plastic bottle or 8000 dong -
about 4 SA Rands (1USD is 18000 dong), not bad. The saying goes
that if you can order a beer in the local lingo you’ve mastered
the language. Well, in that case I’m doing just fine here.
26 July - Tinh Gia
- Ninh Binh
With Bia Hoi”,
draft beer; being sold at all the stalls along the road,
drinking and driving doesn’t seem to be a major offence. It’s
rather easy to spot a Vietnamese who has been drinking as their
faces go bright red. So when a red faced Vietnamese on a
motorbike pulls up next to you, sending an sms with the one hand
and having a cigarette in the other, watch out.
In this region of
the world one can buy MSG by the box load at the market; I must
admit that it is totally necessary on the noodles.
27-28 July - Ninh Binh - Hanoi - 96km
We stayed in Ninh Binh an extra day,
relaxing and doing laundry, etc. That evening we did some
pleasant socializing with two other cyclists, James and Tracey
from the UK, whom we’d previously met in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The 28th was a flat, scenic and easy ride
into Hanoi, but came with its usual problems of flat tires and
heavy traffic. At least we had a cooler day on the road with a
bit of a drizzle which is way better that the heat. Once in the
city the rain came down, and it took us forever to find a room
in the narrow streets of the old city area, where street names
change every few blocks. This old quarter of Hanoi is a maze of
narrow streets with many tourists, and the locals live their
lives on the streets. There are also many peasant peddlers in
conical hats selling a variety of goods and nibbles.
29 July - 4 August - Hanoi
There is not a single day on this trip
without a surprise. On the first morning in Hanoi we were off to
the Chinese embassy to apply for our onward visas. It came as a
total shock to us to find out that the Chinese don’t issue visas
to South Africans here in Vietnam. We were so stunned that we
were quite speechless. So it’s back to the map to plot a new
route (most likely over the mountains to Laos).
In the meantime I organized for my sister
to send me a new bottom bracket for my bike and some other
spares, which would take a few days to arrive. In the
subsequent few days which we spent in Hanoi I had my laptop
fixed and we spent the rest of the time eating, drinking, and
On one of the days in Hanoi we met up with
Marc, a Canadian cyclist who we’d previously met in Nepal and
last seen in Bangkok. That evening the 3 of us went down to a
pizza restaurant which had a special on - “eat as much as you
can”. Now that’s not what you tell a cyclist if you are
planning on making a profit!
Early one moring Ernest locked himself in
the bathroom, as the door-handle decided to malfunction. What a
good thing this did not happen when he was on his own, as he
could have been in there for a hell of a long time. In the end
I passed him his cycle tools through the air vent, and he forced
the door open with a tyre lever.
5 August - Hanoi – Hai Phong
- 109 km
At last we were on our way again, well fed
and well rested. It was not a very scenic day as we stuck to
the main road to the coast. Nearly the entire way the area was
built up with loads of traffic. Most of the way there was a
cycle track alongside the highway, but this part of the road was
sometimes used as a market, and was clogged by local loaded
bicycles and various other forms of transport. At least there
were many fruit stalls (mostly peaches) along the way, which
again they eat here unripe and sprinkled with a mixture of salt
6 - 7 August - Hai Phong – Cat Ba Island - By ferry (cycled 14 km)
After a little tour d’Hai Phong, we cycled
to the pier to catch a ferry to Cat Ba Island. We were totally
ripped off and were charged and astronomical amount for the
ferry. The ferry turned out to be a real rust bucket and not a
car ferry at all (which we were led to believe). It was a local
ferry where our bikes had to go on the roof with bags of rice,
crates of noodles, and casks of the local Bia Hoi (draught beer
– certainly the cheapest in the world, sometimes less than 2 SA
Rand per glass). What can I say Communism is truly dead, long
The 2hr ferry trip to Cat Ba Island was
however spectacular. Cat Ba Island is a nature reserve with a
craggy and rocky coastline. The island is sparsely populated
with just a few small villages. We found a room in the main
town for 8 dollars overlooking the “hotel strip” and fishing harbour - what a view it was! We also stayed the following day
as it was a raining - and storming complete with a display of
thunder and lighting.
This place is popular with local and
international tourists, and as is the case at other holiday
venues in Vietnam, Kareoke and Massage is advertised everywhere
(also known as “singing and sex”). Every time Ernest went out
on his own the “girls” were trying to drag him into some place
for “massage boom-boom”.
8 August - Cat Ba Island – Ha Long City
- By ferry (cycled 37 km)
It was a hilly and very scenic 22 km ride
from Cat Ba town to the harbour at the Northern end of the
island. We were lucky to be just in time for the car ferry
which took us across Ha Long Bay to Ha Long City. Words cannot
describe the scenery and photographs cannot capture the beauty
of the rocky island cliffs and absurd rock pinnacles jutting out
of the sea.
After cycling from the ferry port to “hotel
alley”, we found a room in Ha Long City for the night, and went
to the market to find some vegetables to eat with our noodles. I
also found some freshly grilled tofu to add into the pot.
Then it was time to do the dreaded laundry
(again!) which I did in the bathroom waste-bin. If there is one
thing that going to get me down it’s the laundry thing!
9 August - Ha Long City – Bieu Nghi
We hardly left the city when we spotted a
small roadside hotel with rooms on the ground floor. This is
not something you see every day in Vietnam, as most of the
buildings here are long, narrow and straight up, like matchboxes
on their side.
We immediately pulled in as this was the
best place we’d seen yet where Ernest could do some necessary
work on my bike and fit the new parts which I’d ordered. I
don’t think the people at this establishment have ever had a
foreign visitor before, and Ernest had a constant audience as
well as willing helpers.
10 August - Bieu Nghi – Nam Dinh - 127km
My bike was
running like a dream with all the new parts installed. Although
hot, it was an easy day on the road and we reached Nam Dinh
earlier that expected. To find a room was, however, more
difficult. This is not a touristy place and we could only find
a house of ill repute and one expensive hotel. There was not
even an ATM. With me being out of money, the only option was to
stay in the expensive hotel where we could pay with a credit
It was a very nice
hotel with all the mod cons (even a bath tub) so we made good
use of it. We soaked in the bath, used their shampoo and soap
and like any good budget traveler, I nicked the toilet paper.
11 August - Nam Dinh – Tinh Gia - 135km
When we took off
on this morning it was already raining, and the rain intensified
by the minute. By mid-morning the sky was so dark it seemed
like dusk. It was clear that one of the feared off-shore
typhoons (gloomily advertised on the TV weather report) had
crept ashore. We’d already started to figure out how to use our
tents as spinnakers if the real winds arrived – luckily the wind
was mostly from behind! Our Vietnam visas were valid only for a
few more days, and we were pushing for the Laos border – we had
to proceed, regardless. The relentless rain accompanied by
thunder and lightning, complicated by the heavy traffic, road
works, and flooded roads didn’t make the task any easier. Just
for good measure Ernest hit a flooded pothole, puncturing his
front tyre – lots of fun unpacking tools and doing repairs in
Somehow, by 5 pm
we’d arrived at our target destination. After a shower and a
hot cup of soup I was happy again. It was quite a task cycling
135km under those conditions – what can I say, give me that dog
that digs up the garden any day!
12 August - Tinh Gia – Vinh - 102km
No storms or flat
tyres today. Back tracking is never much fun but at least it was
a fairly short day. Only another 3 days of backtracking and then
we can turn off for the Laos boarder. Had plenty time to talk to
the locals and enjoy their version of Red Bull. We also did the
necessary shopping at the market before finding a room, bread,
noodles, salad and veg. Watching one of the 3 Vietnamese
channels on TV, or rather just staring at it, we don’t
understand a word.
Finding a bush to
use as a toilet is really hard in this country. The total land
area of Vietnam is 329,569 sq km, and the population 84 million,
compared to South Africa with 1,219,912 sq km,
and (I think) about 50 million people. There’s just no private
place to go without being watched, but when you have to go you
have to go!!
- Vinh - Ky Anh - 103km
never much fun; I could not find my rhythm, my legs felt weak
and my backside was sore. This, I’m sure, is all mental, or
maybe it’s the fact that I went to bed so late or that instant
noodles is maybe just not enough to see me through the day. I
had to dig deep and had to call in the help of the i-Pod. Even
here I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel (Simon & Garfunkel
and The Beatles). We arrived in Ky Anh early, found a room and
called it a day. Only in Vietnam do you have a village around a
Ernest, as usual,
went to the market to get some food stuff and I did my long
overdue laundry (I wonder just how many days one can cycle in
the same clothes)
14 August- Ky Anh – Dong Hoi - 94km
Another flat tyre
(this time my bike – which thankfully Ernest repaired in the
presence of infatuated spectators). I can’t believe this, one
can go for months and months without so much as a little leak
and then suddenly its one flat tyre after the other. We battled
into the wind all day long (at least we wern’t the only ones
battling into the wind) but eventually reached Dong Hoi at
around 15h00, leaving plenty time for the shopping etc.
I was p-d off with
the room as the air-con did not work and there was no Wi-Fi,
(all this after we had already paid and that we were assured
there was both). It’s just not a good day, but neither was it
for the pig (she’s suffering in the heat while the driver
guzzles cold beer – and then it only gets worse –slaugher!)
15 August - Dong Hai
- Dong Ha - 97km
Still we back
tracked, back across the DMZ with its old bomb craters and on to
Dong Ha. At least there’s the ever present sugarcane juice to be
had along the road, served with lemon juice and salt over ice,
just what a weary cyclist needs. Fortunately this was our last
day of backtracking; tomorrow we head West into the hills for
16 August - Dong Ha - Lao Bao - 83km
At last we turned
off for the Laos border. We followed the road West past many
war time relics including Camp Carroll and the well known Khe
Sanh Combat base, crossed numerous paths all known as the Ho Chi
Minh Trail. We climbed and climbed up hills and over passes
with beautiful valleys and fields. The hill tribes are quite
different from the Vietnamese we have seen so far, they seem to
live in bamboo woven huts on stilts and even dress differently
in a sarong like skirt and carry their goods in woven baskets on
their backs (instead of the bamboo pole with the 2 baskets
dangling form each end).
reached the border town of Lao Bao and decided to stay for the
night and cross the border in the morning. It was Sunday and at
least the banks would be open the following day in case we
needed to change money for the visas.
Ernest went off to
the market again and returned just in time before another storm