A Different Sense of Space

We have been poked, pushed, prodded and patted, and our bikes have been used as a coat and purse hanger.  Touching is how the Vietnamese express themselves, and when they are excited (to see we are biking, to get on a bus, etc) using their bodies is completely appropriate.  We took the overnight bus from Hue up to Ninh Binh (contemplated cycling on Highway 1, but it was just too busy with trucks, buses, motos all honking constantly). Dan helped them load the bikes underneath, while I procured two “beds”.  The beds were narrow, with a pod thing for your legs to slip down into and a railing on the side – made for the Vietnamese (i.e. smallish).  A little claustrophobic at first, but we had to climb up and in even though it was 6pm.  There were 2 aisles on the bus, and upper and lower beds – so 3 across all the way back.  The lights went out and there we were, tossing and turning trying to get comfortable for 12 hours as we honked and swerved our way north toward Hanoi.  We got off in the town of Ninh Binh, by the side of the road just as it was getting light out.  We loaded up the bikes with our panniers and rode to a hotel where we found a most delightful man who gave us great directions for a serene ride through the countryside for the day.  Little lanes, riding past pagodas and traditional houses, and up on the berms through the rice paddies.   Just what we needed.  But since we also wanted to see Halong Bay before heading to NW Vietnam, we got on another (very) local bus the next morning for 5 hours of more honking and swerving as the driver played chicken with the other buses and trucks.  At the rest stop along the way there was one big trough for the women to pee in  : )    Bought some pringles and noticed they had already been opened.  When I showed the girl who sold them she said  “that ok, only few missing” (saving face).  Halong Bay is best seen on a junk (traditional boat) and that’s just what we did.  It was a lovely wooden boat with 8 tidy bedrooms and quite an international group on board (Laos, Ireland, Denmark, China, Korea, Germany, Malaysia and Holland), all interesting people and fun to talk to.  Next up: Hanoi!

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7 Responses to A Different Sense of Space

  1. Jane Church says:

    Hi Dan and Judy

    Read your blog and glad to hear you have made it [not squashed by a truck!]. Really glad to hear you went to Ninh Binh, I really liked cycling there, so peaceful and beautiful.
    Hope your trip in Halong was comfortable and good weather.

    We have had great weather here, but it ended today with huge rainstorms and slight flooding. So it has been book and DVD day. We’re back in our rainmacs and brollies.
    The beach has been cleaned up and mostly repaired.

    Your photos are beautiful- some really good ones. [What camera?- as well as good photographer].
    I also like the Pringles story! So sweet you have to laugh.

    Good luck on your next cycle.
    love Jane
    Nha Trang
    Khanh Hoa
    Vietnam

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks Jane! Hwy 1 wasn’t cutting it for us, so we are looking forward to an 8 day trip towards Sapa on the less traveled roads. Halong Bay was incredible, wished we could have stayed on the boat longer. Hanoi is amazing, I have always wanted to see it. We’ve read about more flooding, especially around Quang Ngai, so we are happy to be north now. Enjoy your indoor days, you will be back out on the beach before you know it! Judy

  2. JOY says:

    Living out of panniers seems so far away from our cottage now full again with all our stuff and memories! Make the most of every moment of each day, its amazing how quickly we have adjusted back to life in the UK and last years trip seems like a dream!
    Keep writing..tail winds!

  3. Ruth Licht says:

    Thank you for taking us along. Your photos are fantastic! Someone will have to teach me how to do this blog thing for my trip in the spring.

    Safe journey!

  4. Stephanie Borden says:

    These photos are glrious, and your narrative transports me to where you are. I’m glad you are the inquisitive and humble travelers you are, open to learning everything these gentle people can offer to teach you.
    Be safe….

  5. Rooney says:

    well, it may just be me, but what the hell are two up to? Five days w/o a post makes one weak!

    • Judy Werner says:

      Hi Dan – we just did another post, it took awhile because we were off the beaten path! We hope to do them weekly, or as internet and time permits. Hope you are all well! Judy

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