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Published: March 13th 2006
This is how I looked most of the time. Peasant pajama given to me by Ngat's Uncle in the North. Cone hat with bicycle helmit under the hat. Bike loaded.
The main part of my trip to Vietnam was the bicycle ride from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. That took a month. I only detoured once off Highway One and that was to Phat Diem. Phat Diem is the home of a celebrated cathedral, which is remarkable for its vast dimensions and superb Sino-Vietnamese architecture. During the French era it was at the heart of Catholicism in the north. It suffered when so many Catholics went South after 1954 and the seminary was shut down. It is being reopened now. The grounds were extensive, beautiful and well cared for.
On the ride South I saw town after town that was dominated by these huge Catholic Churches. In many ways it was like the towns in the Hays area of Kansas. There, the Catholics that immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine built huge Churches out of limestone. They are the first things you see driving across the prairie. They were built about the same time as the Churches in Vietnam. I notice dates of 1905, 1914, and 1922 on the Churches of Vietnam in the North. One difference is the Churches and towns in Kansas are further apart.
My favorite time, stopping at a cafe for something to eat and reading Geri Appel's Rotary District 5690's Newsletter.
In Vietnam the towns and Churches are only one two miles apart. Another difference is the immigrants that came to Kansas for the most part prospered. Made a good life for themselves. In Vietnam, except for the motorbike, cell phones and electricity, the homes and lives of the people are about the same as when those Churches were built.
When you get to South Vietnam (below the old DMZ, Ben Hai River) more new Churches are being built. Just North of Ho Chi Minh City there seem to be a huge Catholic Church, one that would hold two thousand people, every one or two miles.
I even saw one Moslem Mosque. Of course there are many pagodas but they don’t seem to have the activity as the Catholic Church. In Ngat's village there is also a small Protestant Church. I heard about it too late to attend any service there.
The beauty of biking in Vietnam is you have many things to see only a short distant apart. Most are found close to Highway One. There is also many Pho stands and café along the route. I would stop every two hours to get something to drink
When I got to a town I would clean up and bike, unloaded around town. About the best part of having a bike.
I have written about most of the things I saw that was notable. The real beauty of the trip was just observing the everyday life of the Vietnamese. From Hanoi to South of Danang all the farmers were busy planting rice fields. Women were doing most of the work. Also, I saw all kinds of crops being dried on the side of the road. Many times my bicycle path was taken by the farmers to dry crops.
I most have met a million school-kids on their bike going or coming to school. All knew: Hi! How are you? Where are you from? Most stopped there and would start again: Hi! Etc. Even the adults were in to this and if you would not answer them they would say it again louder and louder.
The cheapest hotel I got was new and only $3.20. The highest 20.00. I mostly ate noodle soup for about 40-50 cents. I ate much fruit and tomatoes.
I lost twenty pound and about two inches off my waist. I have a long way to go. I guess when I got to Saigon I should have turned around and biked back
The beauty of Vietnam.
There is still much Vietnam for me to see but it is the real mountain part and I am not going to bike that. At 65 this is my swan song of biking on trips like this. I just hope I do enough at home to get some exercise.
Tot: 1.381s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 16; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0177s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb