Bike tour stage 3: Good Morning Vietnam

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January 17th 2013
Published: January 18th 2013
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Laos ReceptionLaos ReceptionLaos Reception

It was hard saying goodbye to Laos' roadside curiosity and friendliness!
Thakhek (Laos) to Hué (Vietnam): 11th Jan 2013 - 17th Jan 2013

Distance covered so far (since 20 Dec): 1879.90 km (YES! Over 1000 miles!)

Bouyant from a remarkable game of scrabble (Andy went 'all-out' in his first two goes, and was rather proud of himself, Mel got 'crazed' on a triple word score), the cycle on from Thakhek was predestined to be easy-peasy.

It wasn't. What followed was 5 days into a strong headwind. Now... cyclists may be able to appreciate the pain of a headwind, non-cyclists may not. As an analogy, imagine you are making a cake. Not too complicated, you say.... But wait... instead of whisking in eggs and sugar.... you are whisking setting concrete. AND - the only implement you have to whisk the concrete into your cake, is a floppy flannel. Yup - that is what it feels like to cycle 500km into a strong headwind.

As a result, we got awfully tired. So tired, in fact that we overslept (i.e. past 6am!) one morning whilst camping in the jungle and had a curious wake up call from a puzzled Laotian man (cheerfully smoking cannabis), who herded his buffalo around our tent.

The mountains of Laos behind us, we dragged ourselves to the border with Vietnam. Crossing the border we experienced a curious culture shift. The excited, yet shy, Laotian "Hellos" had changed to slightly manic, and very loud "HEELLOO" from the Vietnamese.

We cycled via the town of Dong Ha to Hue. On the way we had some excellent battlefield touring, employing the services of a certain Mr Binh (a South Vietnamese veteran) who gave us a good understanding of the important sites which we have been (and will be) cycling through.

Now we are enjoying our long awaited rest day in Hué and Mel has decided it is time to cut Andy's hair (with nail scissors.) Andy is wondering whether we have the budget for normal scissors. We are eating a lot, and Vietnamese food turns out to be rather good here.

In our last blog a couple of our friends and family commented that our statistics were somewhat incomplete... We will start to include additional stats from now on... see below for the first few additions.

Key Stats:

Distance covered in this stage: 518.16km

Distance covered so far (since 20 Dec): 1879.90km
Wild CampingWild CampingWild Camping

Sometimes there just isn't a guesthouse!

Total Hours in saddle (since 20 Dec): 110 hours and 47 minutes (i.e. 4 days, 14 hours and 47 minutes)

Mechanicals: Sheared Pannier Rack x1 (Mel), Snapped Bike Chain x2 (Andy), Puncture x2 (Andy), Hand Blisters from Sunburn x6 (Mel), Puncture x1 (Mel), Snapped Water Bottle Cages x2 (Andy)

Different sleeping locations (guesthouses / camping) in last month: 26 different locations out of 31 nights

Route finding: proportion of cycling which is in the correct direction (i.e. towards Australia) - 45%!((MISSING)yup - we are actually further away from Australia now, than when we started)

Nutrition: Andy's food ordering accounts for 70%!o(MISSING)f our budget, Mel's for 30%! (MISSING)Strangely, Andy accounts for 100%!o(MISSING)f his own order, and 50%!o(MISSING)f Mel's.

A random extra little thing.....

We took some video in Bhutan which never made it onto the blog... see here for an experience of travel in Bhutan:

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Thanks to Dave, Jen and William BLThanks to Dave, Jen and William BL
Thanks to Dave, Jen and William BL

Thankyou for the 'Sporks' and camping stove. They guaranteed that firstly, we can eat 'cooked' rice, and secondly, we don't have to eat with our credit card.
UXO in Laos from Vietnam WarUXO in Laos from Vietnam War
UXO in Laos from Vietnam War

Have a closer look at the gate posts behind Andy! This was us following Route 9 and a battlefield tour of Op Lamson 719.
Vietnamese MonumentsVietnamese Monuments
Vietnamese Monuments

We've seen many monuments celebrating the North Vietnamese victory against the South Vietnamese Army and the Americans.
Vinh Moc TunnelsVinh Moc Tunnels
Vinh Moc Tunnels

600 N. Vietnamese lived in this tunnel labyrinth for 6 years, to evade American bombing.

Mel's first puncture!

Mel's photo of birds. She has named this photo "Flappity flappity flap", which we think captures the scene, in an ironic kind of way.
Over the Sand DunesOver the Sand Dunes
Over the Sand Dunes

Lagoon behind, sea in front, thin strip of land in the middle. Thankfully route finding not too tricky!

Finally we reached the sea! Couldn't carry straight on, so turned round and cycled in a different direction.
Citadel in HueCitadel in Hue
Citadel in Hue

Andy spoils Mel's nice photo of historic Hue. (Hue = a v.v.v. welcome rest stop, with pancakes!)
Overall Cycle ConceptOverall Cycle Concept
Overall Cycle Concept

This week's big plan is to hit Aus by the end of April. Next week's plan may be different... let's see...

18th January 2013

Thanks for all your blogs. If you thought Bhutan was hilly you should try Hoarwithy (Herefordshire). We enjoyed Hue. At Hoi An we stayed in the Merchants House. If you go to Langkawi do stay at Foxhill and eat at Wonderland in nearby Kuah. Love from Simon and Sally
21st January 2013

Andy's New Haircut!
Having tried to instruct Mel over Skype on how to trim Andy's hair with a pair of nail scissors! I think Andy decided it would be better to go to a barber. Would love to see a picture of your new hair cut. Some more great pics guys! Seems like you're having a brill time xxxx
23rd March 2013

Don't look down
Have just spent a lazy Saturday morning reading through your travel blog entries - sounds like you guys are having the most amazing time. Having read about you guys carrying merrily on regardless of jungle / monsoon / dust-clouds now feel a little ashamed that a few unseasonal snow flakes put paid to my bike riding plans this morning! The video of the Bhutanese bus ride on this entry was a particular highlight - and Katherine is calling the end of the music as the crash test dummies - oh, how we laughed!
25th March 2013

The first correct identification of the 'Crash Test Dummies' on our Bhutan bus video. She wins some kind of incredible prize, that everyone else is likely to be very jealous of.... Well done Katherine!

Tot: 0.067s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 13; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0078s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb