Why You Should Go On A Bike Ride In Hoi An, Vietnam
What better way to immerse myself in the culture of Vietnam than to cycle. While somewhere in town a tailor was creating my beautiful hand made clothes, I decided to pass the time seeing a bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam.
Now let me admit I can ride a bike in the tradition of ‘you never forget’ however I have still to master the art of jumping up kerbs and no hands trick cycling a la BMX style. This basic skill of mine is enough to enable me to get from A – B but not in any artistic, or too speedy, fashion.
You can therefore imagine my trepidation / terror…
…when the cycle man arrived with a bunch of bikes with varying degrees of rust and dents, in my amateur opinion very aged brake cables and decidedly uncomfortable looking seats. My untrained eye didn’t deceive me on that one as the seat dug into places it really shouldn’t, or at least not without due invitation!
Well I had decided to try everything I could
I would embrace all new learning experiences with a smile so I got in position and set off. Wobble wasn’t the word to quite cover the way the cycle heaved quite violently at every bump, and let’s put it this way Vietnam is not known for its smooth pot-hole free highways.
We took our life in our hands…
to cross a major junction, remember I can’t do hands free so…mirror ( what mirror), signal (WHAT NO HANDS) manoeuvre (don’t go too fast they will hit you!) took on a threat level as significant to me as a two year old walking across the UK M1 motorway. OK I admit it I was scared. It lasted approximately one minute until I reached the other side and then the absolutely stunning beautiful although rather bumpy raised grass pathways between the rice fields.
Now at this point I had hoped to take in all the beauty as we slowly cycled through idyllic countryside as seen in the brochures. This would have no doubt occurred if the guys at the front of the line didn’t instantly become competitive headstrong 10 year olds and head off at such a rate of knots we couldn’t see them for dust, literally.
We had to watch out for bricks, potholes and the odd motorbike approaching head on.
Between gazing at my toes, trying to see where the group had headed at each junction hidden behind a tree or bush, then avoiding one legged locals cycling whilst holding their crutches aloft (I kid you not, amazing enviable cycling skill!) I had a not so relaxing scenic tour.
And guess what, I loved it! It was fabulous! My story could be lengthened by providing a detailed description of sights along the way, a lengthy explanation of why one of our group decided it was better to hold on to her bike and ride head long into the water than put her foot down and get off. (Yes we laughed a lot, so did she, eventually!)
I could add in detail of how many wet wipes it subsequently takes to get paddy field mud off a soggy Canadian, an iphone and a camera SD card, suffice to say, quite a few.
It was a great trip and if you get the chance, do it!
You won’t ever be able to describe it effectively so don’t try. Just get on your bike and try to look up every few minutes to actually see the country, wave and shout to the friendly locals, oh and watch out for snakes!
Hoi An is famous for the tailor shops but don’t just stay around the beautiful town, get out on your bike and see the surrounding area. Maybe carry your phone in a plastic bag, just in case.
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