We didn’t intend to do a bunch of biking in Vietnam, but we realized that it was actually a great way to see the country. Traffic is isn’t too crazy, weather is nice, and people are very friendly.
Our first biking foray was in Da Nang after Isaac, a colleague of Annie’s, invited us to cruise around for a few hours. Shortly after we started, we got lost and I got sideswiped by a scooter loaded with tires. The driver had no clue how wide her cargo was. I didn’t crash or anything, but it was a rough start to the ride. After that, though, we got more in tune with the flow of things and started to enjoy ourselves.
A couple days later, we headed out on a supported two-day bike ride from Da Nang to Hue, along the coast. We had our own guide and driver from Phat Tire Ventures. The first day offered great views and scenery, while the second day was all about getting closer to the people and culture. It was only 40-50 miles of riding each day, but, on the first day, there was a nice big climb to a pass in the coastal mountains. We aren’t in the best of shape, but we still managed to drop our guide on the climb. Sorry Tsing – you still owe us a beer.
Our guide was nice and eager to please, but his English was a bit rough and he just wasn’t very knowledgeable about the area. Or maybe he was and just didn’t feel the need to tell us about it. None-the-less, we still had a great time. Check out a little video mashup of our biking.
Song in video: Handlebars
We are not accustom to the pampered, supported bike tour thing. It was definitely nice to not deal with logistics, but there were some trade offs. Sometimes the sag van would slowly drive right behind us (and I mean like 10 feet) for miles. Who wants that? I couldn’t handle being out on a quite, country road and having the serenity shattered by the constant sound of the sag van’s engine looming behind us. It defeats the purpose of being on bikes. So, I had to occasionally shoo the van away.
One other thing that I found a little odd was that they planned on feeding us the equivalent of spam and bread for lunch both days. We ate it on day 1 simply because we didn’t know that was part of the program. When they started to bust it out on day 2, I insisted that we keep riding until we found a local restaurant. Do tourists really come to Vietnam, a place with awesome food that costs about $1 a plate, and want to eat store-bought bread and spam? Very silly. We happily paid for the guide’s and driver’s lunch, so everyone was happy.