Monday, January 04, 2016
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
We leave Laos behind in a very relaxed way as we cycle to the airport of Luang Prabang for our flight to Hanoi. They almost take the bikes as is, but after some debate they need to be packed by the 'professional' packing service at the airport. Of course they don’t have a proper bicycle box, but the guy is very creative with plastic foil, small carton stripes and tape and after some time they are good to go. We take the bikes with us as we are not able to sell them off in Laos and hope to get a better price in Hanoi with a bigger cycling community. But our bike adventure stops here. First of all it’s miserable weather in Hanoi, 15 degrees and drizzle. Next thing is trying to navigate the crazy traffic here with zillions of scooters and no apparent rules at all, and this will stay this way on most of the main road to the south, the Highway 1, as we understood from bicycle blogs. You can choose the quieter Ho Chi Minh trail, but then you are in for some serious climbing, and we are just too tired and too eager to have some beach/kiting time. So we sell the bikes to a Bulgarian guy at a bicycle shop for almost the original price (we had a sweet deal back in Phnom Penh with 50% discount in the Giant store). We also cancel our plans in the north of Vietnam because of the weather and the other stuff we read about Halong Bay: although beautiful, the tourism has exploded here and all you get is warnings of scams, not very appealing.

We spend a few days in Hanoi enjoying the marvelous kitchen of Vietnam: the sandwiches (Banh Mi), the Pho (soup), duck in caramelized tamarind sauce, fresh spring rolls, and so on. The city is humming of the swarms of scooters. The scooter might have been invented in Italy, but here they are used to the max. On a population of around 90 million there are 2 million registered cars, and 37 million motor bikes. So almost half the population has one, and probably the other half is below 15. Mister Honda has definitely reached his goal when he designed his first scooter: an easy to use transport vehicle, affordable for everyone. The Honda Super Cub has been produced since the 60-ties and is with 87 million the most produced engine in the world. One of the design criteria was that you can drive it with one hand, holding soba noodles in the other. And indeed, people carry almost anything, from pigs to complete families. 

And then it is time to use the kites that we dragged around since the start of our trip. We fly to Ho Chi Minh, have a quick stop to pick up the kite bag, and finish the day with an excellent Sushi meal in Ichiban including chilled Sapporo draft. The next day we take the early train to the coast to the windiest place of South-east Asia, Mui Né. Mui Né is not Vietnam at all, its like Phuket, in a decade it exploded from a long beautiful beach with a kite station and 2 hotels to a long strip of resorts were it is actually difficult to reach the beach, and with Russian signs and Russian menu's. Even the local Vietnamese speak the language. Blame it on communication issues or cultural differences, it doesn't really add to the atmosphere, but still we have a good time. The kite station is well setup by a French guy, if you shop a bit you can find affordable accommodation, we even stay a few days in a beach bungalow just before Christmas and the big hordes fly in. The food options are plenty, with lots of seafood from the fishing village part that Mui Ne used to be.

The next two weeks are monotonous: we wake up by the sounds and the light, shower, select a breakfast spot with at least pancakes and fruit/yoghurt/muesli, we drink our coffee overlooking the kite beach and watch the first kites in the air, we decide the proper kite size and have the beach boys set it up for the first session. Then it is lunch time, Vietnamese pancakes, Pho soup, sandwiches and always a fresh coconut. We take a nap on the beach and prepare for the next session, mostly with a smaller kite as the wind increases during the day. Then an after kite beer, a shower in the room and some relaxation before we go out to dinner. We finish off with a banana-nutella waffle and sleep early with slightly painful (stomach) muscles. Monotonous does not necessarily mean not enjoyable. The kiting lets us crave for more, so instead of exploring Vietnam we book a ticket to Boracay in the Philippines, another one of those famous kite spots, just in time to witness a kite competition. So we travel back to Ho Chi Minh and fly via Kuala Lumpur to Kalibo. From there it is a bus and a boat ride and we expect to arrive there tomorrow night.

So our view on Vietnam is fairly limited, having stayed mainly in this touristy place. Next time we come back and do like the locals, rent a moto bike and tour along the length of it.



In te first place:HAPPY NEW JEAR !!!
Great pictures and wonderful stories. Thank you very much.
Wish you both a wonderful time on the next trips and are waiting for
new stories and pictures.
With love aunt Riet and uncle Frans

Beste Carolina en Frans, voor jullie ook de beste wensen voor een gezond en gelukkig 2016. Wat een prachtige foto.s en een mooi reisverslag we genieten met jullie mee. Wij inmiddels weer terug van twee weken Wintersport in Meribel, mama ook gelukkig weer perfect op de pistes en geen enkel probleem meer met de nieuwe knie, Durect na de Kerst vertrokken naar Meribel eerst een week met Christian en Melanie, heel veel zon en nog nooit zoveel groen in de januari week, toch perfect kunnen skiën omdat de pistes goed werden bijgehouden, de tweede week met Lieneke en Dennis en in het weekend dat ze arriveren heel veel sneeuw er valt dagelijks in de namiddag een laag van 15 tot 30 cm, dus super voor de pistes.Jammer genoeg is het de donderdag en vrijdag regen en mist dus twee dagen relaxen in het appartement, ski kast in de kelder opgeruimd en alle ski.s van 30 jaar terug afgevoerd zodat het weer overzichtelijk is. Nu dus weer terug en de 11 jan een heel,gezellige nieuwjaars party in de winkel in Papendrecht met alle medewerkers en familie, heel gezellig. Willem druk aan het renoveren van zijn huis, nieuwe badkamer, en ook in Ridderkerk met een actualisering van het winkelintrieur dus best heel druk. Kijken uit naar jullie volgende reisverslag vanui te Philipijnen , liefs van ons allen en geniet met elkaar van al het moois wat jullie zien xx

Lieve Carolina en Frans,
Hebben een melding van een nieuw reisblog van 22 januari gekregen maar alleen de kaart en verder geen reisverhalen of foto.s doen we iets niet goed. Hier in Holland maar nat en regen, vandaag wel nooi weer. Woensdag afscheids borrel bij Christian in den Haag, gaat dit weekend naar Londen om bij BA te gaan vliegen op de City hopper, dus een flinke verandering. Willem druk aan het klussen zowel in de winkel renovatie van Ridderkerk als in zij. Huis Badkamer bijna klaar, liefs horen graag nog van jullie liefs pa en ma xx