Distance: 1752 km
Daily Average: 76 km
Days in the Country: 23
Days on the Bike: 17
Altitude covered: 7054m
Daily Average: 415m
Nights in Tent: 10
Nights in Houses: 13
Breakdowns: 1 Flat Tyre in the Back
Daily Costs: 9,98€
Good Morning Vietnam!
As i crossed the Border nothing changed at all. Still smoking tree stumbs on both sides oft he roads, but later it went better and much, much greener.
Through the first villages and Cities i cycled, a choir of „Hello“ Shouts came from every corner and house. Smiling Childsfaces at the Roadside and hordes of pupils who accompanied me on their bikes and tried to ask me questions in (very broken) english...
Not only the new (plastic) Money in my pocket showed me that i am traveling in a new country, also the busyness of the people. Everybody is carrying something, works on something or wants to sell me a thing. There is much more pep behind them....
As i entered a shop along the Road in Cambodia i could take anything and pay later to the (not even moving) Owner, in Vietnam i have to ask the shop owner if i´m allowed to enter it...
Totally different Rules ;-)
After the war Vietnam went totally communistic and when you look at the flags and banners along the Roads it still seems to be like that. But in daily life there is nothing to see of it. A lively trade is going on everywhere, mobile phones (if possible with a bitten apple on it) ringing all around, expensive cars more and more on the roads. That´s capitalistic whats going on down there. The Face of Ho Chi Minh is still everywhere and he is still highly respected. „Uncle Ho“ as they call him now 47 Years after his Death. His Mausoleum in Hanoi is an often visited spot in the capital....
My first Part took me over the Mountains, that are going through Vietnam from North to south, to the Ocean in the East.
Even here the Jungle has lots of Holes, partly from the war and the american use of Dioxin („Agent Orange“) and on the other side from deforestation in modern times.
I´ve not been over 1000m since a long time so i enjoyed the fresh air and my first rain a lot. The road was a real Sideroad and i curved around the potholes and through the hills and went down again after two days. I was back again in the humid heat. Not as hot as Cambodia, but the rice paddies around gave a lot of water to the atmosphere so i was sweating all around the clock the next time. In daytime from cycling and in nighttime from the Heat in the Tent...
The Plain along the Coast is mainly caracterised by rice paddies, little villages and a lot of graves that are situated in the fields and also in the middle oft he villages. I´m not sure if it is from the war or cause of the strong relationship between the vietnamese people and their ancestors.
I tried to find a nice place at the beach every evening so i could take a refreshing bath in the surprisingly cold south chinese Sea.
For me Vietnam was always connected with the war and so i could remember some places from their names. Half the way to Hanoi in the North i crossed the Demilitarized Zone, a strip of land that should buffer the two parties but suffered the hardest fights and bombings of the total war. Also on the way through the country you could find and see the damages from the war but DMZ topped everything. Seven times more Bombs (in explosive power) than in Hiroshima were thrown down on these little piece of land in 10 Years. Unbelievable. The Vietnamese dig their holes and tunnels and waited fort he end... also unbelievable. I visited one of the Tunnelsystems and listened to a lot of propaganda about the „Imperialists“ (USA). But if just a little bit of it is true the performance oft he vietnamese is as incredible as the US were merciless.
A dark chapter in the history of both countries. The numbers go up to 5 Million vietnamese and 65000 foreign victims (mainly American Soldiers) during the war.
Passing old Capitals and beautiful beaches, villages and landscapes i reached the area around Ninh Binh. West of the City is a region full of Karst-Rocks. I cycled through it. They called it the dry Halong Bay (after it´s famous big Brother at the Coast i wanted to visit later in the trip). In the evening i arrived in Hanoi, where i had a special appointment...
In Pleiku, short after the border to Cambodia i met Hoa, a vietnamese woman that speaks german fluently. We chatted a while and exchanged contacts. A day later she told me that her story on Facebook about me quicken a lot of interests in Hanoi and the national TV wanted to bring a story about me. Never did something like that and so i said Yes! And so i got involved in it without having a glue...
The organization of my trip to Hanoi was arranged by Mai, a friend of Hoa, who sponsored me some nights in very comfortable Hotels on my way north. So i reached Hanoi almost relaxed ;-)
There i had to go to the Studios twice, once for the morning talkshow „Cafe Sang“ (about the sense of life) and the other time for a short interview in Channel 1 (about my trip in generally) at the primetime. As it was not broadcasted live, the atmosphere was quite relaxed and i was not that much nervous... My bike was also in the Studio and is now well known in whole vietnam. Funny Story!
You can find the Videos here, unfortunately the voice over in vietnamese is so loud that you can´t understand what we were talking about... But the pics are nice!
Before i left the city i had the opportunity to present my trip to a room full of pupils and parents at the school of Hoa. That was more exciting cause i wasn´t prepared at all. I showed some pictures and told some stories from the road... The Kids were totally besotted about me and i had to sign autographs at the end. The Parents were also excited and gave me a big gift at the end of the „Show“.
Thank you very much Hoa, Mai and all the others who made this visit to Hanoi a unique thing on my trip! Thanks!!!!
After Hanoi i cycled back to the coast and visited one oft he main attractions of Vietnam, the (not dry) Halong Bay.
Thousands of Karst-Rocks tower out of the Bay and you can make a boat trip through this Labyrinth. You can also visit beautiful caves. But as a main attraction it is totally crowded... Hundreds of Boats floating through the rocks and the piers are full of people. Not my Style but the Nature worths it. Unique!
From Halong i followed the Road to the North crossing the main Coal extraction Area in Vietnam and reached the Border to start my next adventure: Back to China!
Here in Vietnam i first realized that it is enough Asia for the Moment. The Traffic, one of the liveliest in Asia, annoyed me with it´s horning, the salesmen were to intrusive and most impressing: i couldn´t learn the language... I only managed to learn 2 words in 4 weeks. But it is not a problem cause you can survive with english very proper...
Vietnam is on it´s way into a capitalistic future and that while having a communistic government... Exciting combination.
Corruption is happening also here, as i was trapped at a police checkpoint i slipped through cause i insisted to get a receipt that the officer don´t want to fill out. Cause then he had to give away the 25$ he wanted to collect from me...
I enjoyed Vietnam, especially cause of my story in Hanoi and the extraordinary people i was able to meet cause of this.