We are serenaded by the children running toward us as we pedal through the countryside “hallo hallo!! Gooodbye gooodbye!!” They break into a fit of giggles as we greet them and cruise on past, our hearts warm with the welcome we receive. The women smile at us as they sit by the side of the road selling root vegetables and greens from their gardens; the men are busy cruising by on motos. Our first week of cycling was a tough one in many ways, mostly because of the trucks and buses passing us the first few days on the busy roads, blowing their diesel exhaust and incredibly loud horns on the mountain roads. We had some pretty intense climbs, and some of the accommodations were a bit seedy (were we an hourly rental or did we plan to sleep? Sleep, thank you). We were happy to get off the beaten path, but at times we felt a little too far off! Our map was outdated as some of the towns had been relocated and renamed because of dams that had been built, and for 6 days we did not find anyone who spoke any English! We used our pantomime skills and a phrase book (thanks Molly) and generally got what we needed, but we had plenty of unanswered questions. We did a homestay with a White Thai Vietnamese family one night, which was a highlight for us. We were welcomed into their home and given pads on bamboo mats to sleep on. Experiencing the peaceful village life was a delight – the serenity was much needed. We met a group of Vietnamese men who had cycled all the way from Saigon, and the oldest one was 90! They were very interested in us and our bikes, and we were completely inspired by them. We had a long way to go to get to the French hill town of Sapa, but we made it and are now in a cozy room with a fireplace (and supposedly a view, but we are socked in with fog up at 5000 ft). The food choices here are great. We had been craving some western food and now we are content. Our Vietnamese visas run out at the end of the month, so in a few days we will get back on our bikes and cycle 20 miles downhill to the border and enter China.