Our time in Vietnam
After 2.5 months in India it was time to say goodbye.
We flew to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, to go from there north to the first possible border crossing to Laos (no way to go by land through Myanmar or China by now). From there we want to go south along the Mekong River to Cambodia.
Cambodia is a real stopover and if we continue from there, then through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Of course we could have flown directly to Cambodia, but the goal is not only Cambodia, but the trip. I am quite inexperienced regarding South East Asia.
Cambodia I know quite well after a few trips, Sumatra we have also explored for a few months. More, however, not yet. Also a reason to cycle a little more through Vietnam and not to leave out Laos.
But now to our quiet Vietnam
It is always difficult and exhausting to get involved with new things. We just understood how India works and everything is different again. New language, new culture, new grocers, new money, new traffic rules, …… and this time we have only 30 days. A visa extension is not possible in Vietnam. That sounds like a long time, but it is not. When we are on the road, we make on average 60km/day of distance. We cycle max. 5 days, then our muscles become noticeable. They demand a break of 1-2 days.
Then there are the cities and villages that we would like to explore extensively and the one or other bad ice cube made us stop as well. So we had only 12 bike days in Vietnam. That felt a little scary to make the distance from HCMC to the border to Laos until the visa expires. A bit of a shame, but of course also a bit good, so we had a kind of pressure to move forward.
744km and 7.830 m of altitude we had to climb
It goes slowly towards the rainy season and thus the temperatures rise up to 36°, the sun has become merciless again. Luckily we found this stops, just hang out a bit with the others, an iced coffee and wind from the fans. Very cool these hammock breaks! They will accompany us the rest of the Vietnam trip.
Wild Camping is quiet easy
We spend the night on a cashew plantation and I see my first cashews on the tree, the next night we are in a forest of rubber trees.
The thirst tortures us a little and so we use almost every opportunity to grab one of these iced drinks. Delicious chilled sweet and salty drinks.
Again and again we find vegetarian food, the most important thing next to the drinks on such days. It is fascinating how unexcitingly beautiful it is. After almost a year of so much more complex experiences, it is almost boring. The people are smiling, friendly, speak barely a smattering of English, the traffic on the winding roads manageable, the food fantastic.
And then just one of those ice cubes must have gone bad. It got us both. I’m through after 3 days, with Klaus it takes longer. But then we have to move on. The time window until the visa expires is closing.
We are not really well. We have eaten too little, too badly. The power not yet really back and already again the sun burns and then from 3pm, it rains daily. One or the other mud fight is coming up for us. With strangers we lie in an anteroom of a house on the ground, sleep a little and wait for the thunderstorm to pass.
We continue on a few washed out red sand paths, up inclines that we no longer manage and have to push.
For all the effort we get the most wonderful landscapes and especially scents. The coffee plants are in bloom and this scent accompanies us day after day. I cant’t get enough of it. Even though I’m not a very great fan of the Vietnamese coffee. A kind of too strong, too sweet.
I can’t think of a better name for Vietnam than “Quiet”
It has brought all the excitement of the last months back to a comfortable level. We can cycle again with that smile, the smile that makes us feel so good and gives us all the strength to go on.
The little things make this country for me so lovable. But maybe I am just able to see them again. Vietnam was different again. Vietnam was quiet.
And something very rarely happend to Klaus: he turned 60 during the last days.
When we decided to make one more trip like this we knew, we should not wait longer. Getting older is wonderful, but sometimes to be old a real hassle.