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  • A Cruising Couple | May 9, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Highlights From a 1,000-Mile Bike Ride Through Vietnam

    Highlights From a 1,000-Mile Bike Ride Through Vietnam

    All photos by A Cruising Couple

    “How is it possible that the sky can hold so much water?” This was our primary thought as we watched the most rain we had ever seen in a 24-hour timeframe bucket down to the ground. The monsoon season in Vietnam was supposed to have ended, but we were starting to have doubts. All of our possessions, including clothing and electronic devices for work, were strapped to our makeshift bikes—and there was just no way they could hold up in full-on Vietnamese monsoon season.

    Thankfully, the next day came and the sky cleared. We quickly decided it was now or never, and pushed off from Hanoi heading south for Ho Chi Minh City—a bike ride that would take us six weeks to complete and carry us over 1,000 miles of rugged Vietnamese terrain.

    Tour de Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Trail

    Of course, the trip was life-changing. We still wonder how we managed to finish the feat. And while we can't pack everything that occurred over those six weeks into one article, there were easily a few memorable highlights of our trip that paint a picture of just how incredible and inspiring the country of Vietnam truly is.

    High-Fiving School Kids

    Visit Vietnam Waving Lion Dancers

    For us, there is no greater joy while traveling than connecting with the locals. In Vietnam, people had zero hesitation in showing their excitement or utter confusion about our adventure. Most notably, every day around noon, the school children would start pouring onto the street on their way home from class.

    I can only imagine their surprise when they saw two foreigners riding rickety bicycles through their village. Some would stop and stare with mouths wide open; others would run alongside until they could no longer keep up. My favorite was the internationally recognized show of praise: the high-five.

    Students would line up, sometimes ten in a row, with their hands sticking out onto the road. One by one down the line we'd ride and give them all high fives, children laughing and cheering as we rode by. It was just the extra push we needed on those tough mountain days, and always put a smile on our faces.

    Hoi An at Dusk

    Thu Bon River Hoi An

    Out of all of the cities we have visited, there are few that have a unique beauty like Hoi An. Hoi An is a colorful city filled with lantern-lit streets and endless shopping opportunities, the best of which are its custom tailors. Even though we were carrying all of our belongings on our bikes, we still managed to get a few custom clothes made.

    Yet even better than the form-fitting fashion was watching the sun go down on the Thu Bon River. At night old women sat cross-legged along its banks, selling paper lanterns that would carry our wishes down the stream. The classic architecture mixed with the paper lanterns created an atmosphere as timeless as it was romantic.

    Being Rescued From A Monsoon

    TV time

    Maybe one of our closest near tragic travel stories, we've talked a lot about our most terrifying moment while cycling Vietnam and the kindness of strangers. This moment is still to this day the pinnacle of what traveling and hospitality mean to us.

    The day started off like any other. We chose our route using Google Maps and headed out on what was supposed to be a nice ride along the highway. Further down the road, not having seen anything that resembled a hotel or even a town in over two hours, monsoon clouds began bearing down on us.

    We stumbled up to the only house in site. We didn't speak Vietnamese, the residents didn't speak English, but somehow we got across the idea that we were on bikes, the rain was coming, and we needed a hotel. Unexpectedly, the mother shyly motioned us inside her home, just as the skies opened up and 12 hours of violent rainstorm ensued. The family then proceeded to feed us and give us a bed while communicating through creative gestures and lots of smiles.

    Having a BBQ at Thac Dray Nur Waterfalls

    Visit Vietnam New Friends

    Just outside of Buon Ma Thout are the magnificent Thac Dray Nur and Dray Sap waterfalls. While the cascades are impressive, what was even more awe-inspiring was the friendliness of the people we met there. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by a group of locals who were grilling chicken over a wooden fire.

    They saw us and noticed that we didn't have any food. Quickly they invited us to join them, insisting that they fill up a plate for us and that we join their feast. We chatted much of the afternoon as we exchanged stories of our cycling trip and life in Vietnam while swimming in the waterfall and taking photos together.

    While we don’t think we would take on the challenge of cross-country cycling again any time soon, our adventure in Vietnam is one that will long stay with us. What are some of your favorite memories from your travels? Share with us in the comments below!

More Vietnam


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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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