OMGeeee, I leave for a month in Vietnam on Sunday. WELL excited. Like, kinda nervous excited.
I think because I’ve had a lot of time at home I feel like I’ve had a bit of time to prepare for this, and to think about it and I’m giddy about the whole thing. Vietnam is one of my favourite countries in Asia, maybe number two, after Japan, so I’m going back for a refill.
– From Kyle Taylor, off Flickr
My month in Vietnam
So, plans for the month go a little bit like this:
I’ll arrive in Hanoi after an epic 25-hour journey from Heathrow.
I’m going to spend 4 days in Hanoi, with the main focus being FOOD. I’m going to do a cooking class, and a food tour or three too. I don’t have any fixed plans or list of attractions, because it’s there that I’ll be picking up this 500-mile Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City bike ride I’ve been talking about.
The first two days of the bike ride are in Hanoi, when I’ll meet the group (nervous) and work out how I’m going to cope perched on a bike seat for two weeks. The next day we’re going on a whistle stop tour of Hanoi – to see all the sights including the Mausoleum, the Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter.
– From Jorge Cancela, off Flickr
But before that, I’m going to go trekking in Sapa. I’ve had a look round and the companies look really expensive from here, even more so when it’s just me going solo, so I’m going to wait until I get there and then try and join a local tour for cheapo. I want to see the rice terraces, stay in a homestay, and experience the train journey to get there too. I was gutted to miss out on this last time I was in Vietnam, but I just didn’t have time, what with Halong Bay and all.
The 500-mile bike ride
On the 15th January I’ll join the cycling tour from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City for two weeks.
Hanoi > Mai Chau > Ninh Binh > Hue > Hoi An >
Quy Nhon > Nha Trang > Dalat > Ke Ga > Ho Chi Minh City
I’ll be cycling through small ethnic villages, going through the paddy fields, meeting local people, admiring the limestone peaks Vietnam is so known for, checking out the valleys and seeing the Forbidden Purple City in Hue. We’ll be staying in homestays, which I’m super excited about, and hotels along the route.
Apparently I’m going to see pineapple farms, water buffalo farmers, river boats, palaces, fairytale houses, archways and temples, and of course, markets. Can’t wait to see Hoi An again – it really is one of the most beautiful laidback towns I’ve ever seen, and is named a World Heritage Site. I want to hire a Vespa and go down to the beach.
And in Nha Trang we’re taking a boat trip and going snorkelling and swimming – it’s all just too exciting.
The most I’m going to cycle in a day will be 80 miles up the Hai Van Pass, and the least, around 20 miles. Yes, 80 miles terrifies me.
Overnight trains in Vietnam
One night we’ll be travelling Vietnam by overnight train, as I’ve done before. I’m actually excited to get back on them – so cool to wake up in the morning chugging along, and you never know the characters you might meet too.
Ho Chi Minh City
– From Richard Vignola, off Flickr
Then I’ll be back in Ho Chi Minh City. I loved it here last time, and this time the most famous festival in Vietnam, Tet, will be taking place. I’m a bit worried it’s going to be like that time I got excited about being in Taiwan for Chinese New Year, only to realise that everyone spends it with their family and nothing is happening.
Nothing is booked in Ho Chi Minh City for that reason.
You can read the full cycle trip itinerary here, but in short, it looks absolutely incredible. The more I read it the more excited I get.
Phu Quoc and Con Dao
– From Graham Bland, off Flickr
And then to finish my month in Vietnam I’m going to go to Phu Quoc and Con Dao for four days in each. They’re the island beaches you see when you see those kind of photos from. I’m planning on lying on a beach for a week, and only moving to get in a hammock. I’ll have earned it after all that cycling right?
If not, I can go snorkelling, scuba diving, squid fishing, or go and check out the bioluminescence.
My attempt at training
– From Graham Bland, off Flickr
I’ll admit I haven’t done the most training, but I’ve been trying to make up for it over Christmas. I’ve been out on 4 x 20 mile rides and 1 x 35 miles. I felt like after that I got the idea. I feel ok about the cycling, I mean, I’ve got all day to do it and I managed those ones pretty easily. It’s just that heat that might get me, and the seat (I’ve bought extra padding, and padded shorts).
Just not quite sure about Hai Van Pass day, but I’ll work it out. There’s always the support vehicle, although I’d be pretty disappointed in myself if I had to use it.
Feelings about the trip
– Photo from Graham Bland, off Flickr
I think this trip is just going to be amazing. All the sights I’m going to see, and having someone to show me around, I’m well excited. I’m reading books and films on Vietnam to brush up on my knowledge of the history and issues, but to be honest, I’m looking forward to experiencing Vietnam from the comfort of a tour, even a tough one, and then going to chill on the islands afterwards.
This, is going to be awesome!