A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam Tet Holiday

The ride to Rach Gia was a continuation of following a series of canals and waterways that although very interesting,had a series of twists and turns that turned out much longer than I anticipated. I arrived at the Palace Hotel just as it was getting dark. After checking in I walked down the road to the Super Dong ferry office and bought a ticket for Phu Quoc Island for the next day.

Back at the hotel I had a shower and proceeded to get ready to go out for supper. In the meantime the music started up downstairs and my tired body was telling me that this is not good news. I headed down to the lobby and it turns out what was getting started was the hotel staff Tet party. I proceeded to leave for dinner and before I was out the door got invited to join in..

What proceeded was a glass of beer was placed in front of me and throughout the night it was continually filled up and I don't think it ever got below half. Lots of clinking of glasses. Lots of prawns and fish and other food placed in front. Lots of hugging both males and females. The music was extremely loud, most people taking turns singing. The mike was passed to me and I tried to explain that I don't sing. I don't think they got that, so in the end I asked one of the women to dance. Things got more interesting then. She made it her job to make sure I had more beer and food. I think my picture must be on every cell phone in the room. I never did go out for supper. I would recommend the Palace Hotel.

The next morning I caught the Super Dong Ferry to Phu Quoc Island. It is a 3hr trip to the Island. I had reserved a room at the Mango Resort which is on Long Beach on the other side of the Island. Phu Quoc is quite a large island. In my usual way I put the walking route into Google maps and proceeded to follow the route to the resort. Well on this Island it doesn't work. I started down this one road, which turned into a trail, across a few streams. When it became apparent that to proceed I would have to get out a machete I retreated and followed the driving route.

In contrast to what I have seen so far there is quite a few international travellers here. The Mango Resort is quite nice,not expensive (35 per night) and like most places in Vietnam include breakfast. At breakfast yesterday I met a woman from Denmark. She was going on a snorkeling tour for the day but suggested we get together for supper. Coincidentally she met a young woman on the snorkeling trip from Victoria who had just graduated and was working as a teacher in China and here for a holiday. The three of us went out for dinner on the beach. Nice to have a break from sign language. I decided to stay an extra day here and will head back to the mainland tomorrow, then into Cambodia.

Posted by wwrobinson 23:41 Comments (0)

Mekong Delta

January 24th

After leaving My Tho I rode to Ben Tre, then barge to Tra Vinh then rode to Soc Trang, rode to Can Tho, then today rode to Vi Thanh. I have been using Google maps for navigating using the walking option to choose the route. This has worked very well and except for the bigger cities the traffic has been manageable. Many of the roads have been narrow basically made for motor bikes and sometimes have turned to dirt paths. There have been a few times when the river or canal has been crossed on a barge or ferry.

I think I now understand why the river is the main mode of transportation for produce. There are now bridges connecting many of the major cities, but as soon as you get off the main roads, many of the connecting roads are just wide enough for motor bikes. So if you have a farm in these areas it quite likely borders the river or a canal so boat transportation is the best option for getting produce to market.

Accommodation has generally been good. In Ben Tre I stayed at Oasis Hotel, highly recommend right by a Canal $ 38. CAN Per night. In Tra Vinh I stayed at the Gia Hoa Hotel. It was about $20 Can per night. It was OK but I would not recommend it. In Soc Trang I stayed at the Phu Qui Hotel. It was very nice and $19. Can per night. In Can Tho I stayed at the 5 star Ninh Kieu Hotel for $45Can per night. I chose this one as it is used by the bike touring companies and I was curious what people stayed at on those somewhat expensive tours. It was very nice but a bit sterile for my taste. Tonight I am staying at the somewhat less fancy Thanh Kuan hotel for about $9.can per night.

Tomorrow I will finish off the delta and end up on the coast at Rach Gia. It is two days till the Vietnam Tet holiday so I think I am well positioned to bounce into Cambodia if it becomes unmanageable here, but my goal is to take a boat over to Pho Quoc Island first before Cambodia.

I am writing this on a tablet that has the habit of second guessing what I am trying to say. I make an effort to pick up the things that don't make sense but if I missed some, it is the tablet not me.

Posted by wwrobinson 03:33 Comments (1)

Saigon to My Tho

I decided to leave Saigon a day earlier basically as I had seen all that I wanted and was anxious to get cycling. I got up early to get an early start to try and avoid the rush hour traffic. Once into it,it went well. A direct ride from the hotel down to Vo Van Kiev a major highway that follows a canal for several kilometers out of the city. It is busy but many lanes so manageable.

In the suburbs traffic intensified somewhat but eventually picked up highway QL1A all the way to My Tho. Total distance approximately 80 kilometres.

Checked into the Song Tien Annex Hotel, a pleasant place right on the corner of a canal and the river. ($26. Can. )

Lots of boat traffic which is interesting to me. This is a good starting point I am told to tour the Mekong delta.

Posted by wwrobinson 15:46 Comments (0)

Hanoi to Saigon

Everything has gone as planned so far. I arrived in Hanoi, took a taxi to my hotel (The Golden Sun Suites Hotel) and settled in. The hotel was well situated in old Hanoi and nice but probably expensive ($50.US per night) by Vietnam standards. The next day put my bike together and found the front panier carrier was broken. The bolt was broken right at the brazon on one side and the other side was badly bent and when I tried to straighten it, it broke off. So armed with a map I hopped on the bike in search of a bike shop.

I never did find a bike shop but eventually a motorcycle shop managed to get the broken bolt out which was the main concern. He gave me directions to a welding shop who welded the broken side back together. All of the repairs cost next to nothing and now I am good to go. The whole process of getting my bike fixed took me through all parts of the city.

Although this is my forth trip to Southeast Asia by bicycle, it is my first time in Vietnam. The number of motor bikes on the road is huge. Riding a bike here is exciting. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone with anxiety or nervous disorders. The key is to get in the middle, keep moving and don't look back.

I spent the next couple of days sight seeing. On day three I rode to the train station and caught the night train to Hoe Chi Min City. Well actually it is a two night trip, thirty three hours total.

I arrived in Saigon at 6:30 this morning and rode to and checked into the Phan Long Hotel that was recommended by Brian. It is perfectly located on a quiet street in District 1. Very reasonable at $20. Can. per night. The traffic here is like Hanoi on steroids, the polar opposite to life at home at Soames
Points where there is no traffic. I am here for three days and then plan on riding to My Tho to start a circuit of the delta.

I'm sure that the only people who are following this know me so I will probably only post occasionally.

Posted by wwrobinson 01:54 Comments (0)

Pre-Trip Planning

In my usual way I made the decision last fall to travel by bicycle from Hanoi to Phnom Pehn leaving January 10th, then flying to visit my son in New Zealand on February 15th. I proceeded to book all my flights, then left on a holiday to Mexico. In the meantime I found out that the Vietnamese "Tet" Holiday is right in the middle of the trip from January 26th to February 1st. I was told that the country basically shuts down for that week so all things including public transport and accomodation are usually booked solid. I always start with a general plan, then work out the details later. This method doesn't always work perfectly, but it sometimes adds to the excitement.

I have therefor modified the trip to still start in Hanoi, take the train to Saigon and then start cycling. If it turns out that what I have been told about the "Tet" week is true I plan to hop into Cambodia for that week, return to Vietnam to do the delta area after (which is my main interest in Vietnam) then head up to Phnom Penn. To compensate for the lessor distance I plan on taking a side trip up to Siem Reip in Cambodia and over to Battambang. This is an area I missed on the last trip as we pretty much stayed with the Mekong River all the way from Laos to Phnom Pehn.

The only thing that is reasonably certain at this point is I should be leaving Saigon on or around January 20th. It will unfold.

Posted by wwrobinson 20:13 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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