2 march 2012 - 1 April 2012

Click www.lyingbackacrosstheworld.blogspot.com for the travel diary about our recent tour around the gulf of Siam. 3120km from Saigon to Singapore.


February 28 2011 - Hanoi

We're in Hanoi. Bikes are OK. We didn't have to pay more for the excess weight. At first glance they seem to be allright. Tomorrow we'll start assembling them back. In the meantime we're getting acclimated with a typical dinner on the streets of the old quarter. Sitting on some kind of mini stools on the sidewalk we even enjoied the famous Bia Hoi Beer (5 beers=1$). The sound in the background is made of a constant motor buzz, accelerating and slowing down, and of the sound of a thousand horns that get constantly honked even if there is no reason, just not to miss on that groovy rythm. On mopeds and cars everybody seems to be relaxed though. No screams, no stress, no malice.
Watching the traffic in Hanoi is like watching a documentary on those fascinating fish packs that move as if they were one even if they still are independent individuals. The difference is that in this case it's not only one pack. There are endless ones, always new, they appear and disappear, they mix, they dilute and sometimes, just for a little while, they fade away leaving only a void to be filled...

March 2 2011 - Halong Bay

Three and a half...four hours by car to reach one of the World's Wonders. 170km east from Hanoi. We got a crash course on how the Vietnamese drive. You overtake on the left. Even if the lane is not empty. You just have to do it slowly. Those who come from the other direction will adjust to your behaviour. You can overtake on the right too, always slowly, if for example another car is already overtaking on the left. You don't stop at crossroads. You slow down and you go in the direction you want to go. The others will manage to avoid hitting you. You always have to honk or there's the chance other people won't hear you coming.

March 2 2011 - Snake village

Dinner at The Snake Village

Main Course: thin and 2 meters long.

You have to drink the blood mixed with Vodka and you have to eat the heart when it's still beating.

And at the end Cobra Liquor.

March 4 2011 - Ninh Binh (93km of 93km)

Hanoi, 6.30 in the morning. We leave towards Ninh Binh under an unceasing light rain like in Blade Runner. We planned to avoid the rush hour traffic, but we got exactly in the middle of it horn blazing honking and all...just not to feel inferior. We followed the traffic flow until traffic lights, crossroads and stop signs disappeared for us too. With great acrobatic skills and an eye on www.asiagps.org maps on our GPS we finally made it out of Hanoi. We literally became one with mud and rain. We got covered in dirt and sludge since the roads here are in any kind of condition you can imagine. Everybody seems to be on these roads at the same time. Pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds, buses, trucks and the occasional animal. When school is over droves of smiling kids on their bikes get in the mix as well. Trucks and buses assault you with their unbelievably loud horns and then they just graze you in a frightening way.



March 5 2011 - Thanh Hoa (86km of 179km)

A lot of dust today. Face mask, sunglasses and spf 30 to 50 sunscreen. The sun burns. Arms and legs are burned. We left the HW1 and we met thousands of smiles and people greeting us until we do the same. In every village little amused kids chase us for a while. When we stop quite a big bunch of curious people of all ages gather around us. The sight of our bikes causes wonder, enthusiasm and lines of question marks and exclamation points. At the Phen Dem Cathedral we have been good luck charms to a couple of newlyweds. On the road and in infinite emerald green rice fields there are always loads of people. Some of they busily at work, some of them play or eat or just plainly do nothing (most of them men...). No matter how small and shabby a village might be, you can always find many mini-shops fully loaded with anything you may want to buy. Every family seems to have their own small business on the sidewalk. For dinner tonight we had a mix of meat and fish (including frogs and black snakes). Everything comes raw and gets cooked on your table with a pan and an integrated cooker (the very kind miss Chiova helped us out). Tomorrow we leave from Thanh Hoa towards Vinh.

March 6 2011 - Cua Lò (129km of 308km)

On the road to the ocean.

No pictures of the ocean or lily white beaches...We got there at sunset on a foggy day. We're in the toursit's town of Cua Lò. This town is only for vietnamese tourists though since it seems to be quite dirty (and, as the Lonely Planet Guide says, for other unpleasant details). It looks abandoned this time of the year and that only adds up to this place's decay. But at least we can smell the ocean and we caught a glance of the beach at night and it seems beautiful. We had dinner in a sheet metal sort of shed. An ”open space” with kitchen, bedroom and dining room all in one place. As always food is great. You really eat very well in Vietnam. The gratification for all the Kilometers we covered today only adds up to the feeling of relaxation we get after a nice meal.