I love border crossings, although I'm always a bit on edge until I'm through because I don't ever give myself any leeway with visas. This is the first border I've crossed with my bike, the first of many I hope, I leave it outside while I head in and get my passport stamped, I'm then sent round to join the queue at customs with all the other bicycles, tricycles etc. which was funny.
I managed to cross without hitch, across the bridge and into Vietnam and the differences between the two countries are immediate especially the buildings which are narrow and colorful instead of multistory. I spot a church across another bridge which I head for as it's the first one I've seen in a long time, and outside is a fantastic market, everything is on the street… from butchers, poultry and fish sellers, fruit and veg sellers as well as birds in cages on the back of motorbikes, flowers, shoes, you name it, it's here, lots of the sellers wear the traditional conical leaf hats which is the first ones I've seen, and there's not another tourist in sight.
I'm not in any hurry, I've a visa valid for the next month so I'm just trying to decide what route to cycle, what I want to see and do, but just one step at a time with my first plan being to see Sa Pa Valley which hosts the highest road and mountain in Vietnam, maybe a bit of trekking in the pipeline.
Many of the people here speak English which is great, although I'm used to sign language now for getting a bed for the night or just pointing at things I would like, China was pretty tough going at times because of the language barrier, it's all a bit of the unknown which I am glad I experienced. Vietnam is very friendly, everyone wants to help you with anything if they can and get annoyed when they can't, I'm sure the hill tribes of the Sa Pa Valley will be similar in many ways to the Chinese people but I'll have to wait and see.
So another new country for me to explore, new adventures… bring it on!