Day 83: It’s the final countdown

Distance: 91,50 km Time: 3:56 Total distance: 4431 km  Average Speed: 23,23 km/h

The final day of cycling. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t sleep last night. I always tried, but ended up watching stuff on YouTube until I fell asleep at 5 in the morning. I ignored the alarm at 7 o’clock and overslept until 8. From then on, everything went quick, as I had already prepared everything yesterday evening, my luggage and my cloth. Just grabbed everything went down and returned they key, placed my luggage on my bicycle and took of for breakfast.

It were only around 90 km, so easily doable. As always people try to warn me of the traffic in bigger cities, so I planned to arrive at around 16:00. But I was good on the way, no so much wind, no rain, a little bit of sun, so that I  already reached 60 km for lunchtime.

As I was so quick on the road, I told my brother that I would arrive earlier in about 1,5 hours. I was giving everything and took up more speed. This speed resulted in an even more high average speed than some days ago.

The expected traffic never came, it was fluid traffic, which had the same speed as me, so perfect. At traffic lights I always sneaked my way through the front of the line and I didn’t have any problems. As the traffic was a little bit loud, I placed my speaker on my handlebar to listen to music. People found it very amusing as I sometimes danced a little bit (depending on the music on) when I had to stop at a traffic light.

I found the place where my brother and his girlfriend (called Gemma) are staying and I quickly took a hot shower. I packed out all my panniers to check stuff to clean and what I have and can use.

As promised they brought me some chocolate.

In the evening we took the motorbikes and went into the ancient city of Hanoi.

My brother (Charel) and his girlfriend (Gemma)

some good desert we had: Some fruits, with jelly and coconut milk.

Today I took again 0 pictures with my camera… all the pictures above are taken by Charel.

For the next few days, I will stay with the both of them, visiting Hanoi, perhaps some other places around (we don’t know yet), celebrating Vietnamese new year and of course preparing my bicycle for the flight, which will be in the evening of 2. February from Hanoi to Frankfurt over Istanbul.

As I have finished cycling here, I will probably not make a post every day, I don’t know yet. What is for sure that there will be some more posts about this travel. A little review on the trip itself, my equipment, my experience and about Hanoi itself. When will I do that? I don’t know.  I currently have the laptop of my brother, so I don’t have to write on my phone anymore, which will lead into quicker writing, but as I am hanging out with them, I have less time to write… You will hear from me eventually.

Day 82: Some rowing through caves

no cycling

After a more or less longer evening playing cards,  we got up a little bit later than planned,  but got on the road quick. With we, I mean Sinéade from Ireland and me on a motorbike.

Our first stop was Trang An. There we had breakfast as we didn’t find a place on the road,  it was just 6 km. From there we took a rowing boat to explore caves,  lots of caves. Our rower woman gave us paddles and we could paddle too😂 Through the caves we got into different valleys with our boat. We also visited some temples on the way through the valleys.

Yes this is the entrance to a cave,  we all had to put our head down to not hit the roof, just the Vietnamese kid on our boat was amazed with the hands up in the air😂

closer to the entrance

Sadly I was unable to take a good picture inside the cave due to less light,  this is everything I got,  one light.

The caves weren’t that long,  after 100 to 300 meters we always reached an exit.

It was a round trip,  so we never took the same cave again,  we also exited the caves at a different opening than we entered.

Our rower,  really strong,  she was rowing the whole time. we,  the passengers, took lots of breaks.

A boat going into a cave

Arrived at a temple we got off the boat and walked around a little bit

Back at the station where we started. They have enough boats there to ship a whole army😂 The are lots of boats at the other side of the lake (as one can see) and that it continued like that😂

It was a long boat ride,  we arrived for lunch and wanted to visit two more places on our map. On the way to an ancient capital of Vietnam,  we didn’t knew the way and we found a tourist with a Vietnamese friend on their motorbike and they were looking for the third place on our map,  the biggest pagoda of asia or south-east asia (I don’t know, it is big). So we decided to follow them as they could always could ask for the way😁 We decided to visit the ancient capital later.

The pagoda was not the only thing to see there. There were also big statues. To get to the big pagoda we had to walk up some stairs. But the statues were great,  there were different once at different levels. The higher we got the bigger the statues got or the more there were. The second last one was big and on the last level there were 3 of the big once from the level before.

They had a really big bell there

The first impressive statue.

The big pagoda (no we didn’t climb to the top,  I don’t even know if that is possible).

The next big statue.

One hall where the statues are inside

Inside that hall (the biggest one on top), were three big statues like this one.

This is Sinéda with me😀

Returned to the bike we went to the ancient capital. I was not really impressed by it and I didn’t took any pictures. But I don’t say that it wasn’t nice.

For the way back,  Sinéda wanted to ride as I was riding the whole day. So she was riding for the first time in a long time. She was pretty good,  expect sometimes in the curves,  but I am not the easiest one as passenger because of my height and weight😂

Arrived back at Ninh Bình we had dinner and then she took the night bus to get to Dong Hoi to visit Phong Nha caves,  which I did some days ago😂

Tomorrow I will do my final kilometers till Hà Nội😀

Day 81: Train, train, train,… 🚂

Distance: 131,62 km Time: 6:29 Total distance: 4339 km

So today the same stuff as yesterday, flat, boring roads. At the beginning it was foggy.

They kind of look funny with this tiny head for these big arms.

The rain got exchanged with wind facing the opposite direction of my driving. At the end there was a really, really small hill of 50 meters of climbing,  I enjoyed that one😂

To the left of the picture there was a car and from the right of the picture there was a car,  so don’t think that the roads are empty here,  they are getting more crowded as I get closer to Hà Nội.

For the rest it was mentally really hard to continue… But I managed to arrive in Ninh Bình, as it weren’t my muscles who didn’t want anymore but my mind. Putting on the right music and skipping the bad one helped.

Actually I often saw the rails from the train, but rarely the train or it was behind buildings. As the road and the rails were running in parallel with nothing in between, I got myself a challenge: taking a picture of the train here,  as I like trains and I know some people back at home who like trains😀 The first train was going into the same direction,  so the moment until I had my camera out,  I could just get the back of the train…

Shortly before Ninh Bình I got to a closed rail crossing,  so I stopped and placed myself with the camera to catch the train. It was a little bit quick…

Arrived in Ninh Bình I checked online for a good hostel,  as I didn’t have any clue what to visit here and with a good hostel,  you get english speaking stuff. I found a good one,  ironically it is the old train station😂

After a shower I talked to my roommate and I ended up going to dinner with some more people and now we are hanging around.

Yes I managed to take more pictures today😀 Probably because it didn’t rain anymore.

With my roommate I will visit some places on a motorbike we will rent.

The day after tomorrow I will do my final cycling to Hà Nội where I am going to meet my brother and his girlfriend.

Day 80: getting closer to Hà Nội

Distance: 125,57 km Time: 6:03 Total distance: 4207 km

The problem with having friends in the same timezone,  they write sometimes in the morning. That’s the reason why I got on the road a little bit later than I expected. It was raining outside…

After half an hour on the road,  a local was riding next to me on his motorbike and started talking to me. He invited me in for a coffee ☕. He is a seaman on a 100 meter long ship.

As I started late and had early first break,  I had to hit the pedals now, but it started to rain heavily again… Here is a video of the rain when it got less fir lunch break. Some people told me that one that one can hear birds in the background😂

For lunch I took everything off, shoes, socks,  hat, buff, jacket and pressed the water out… Yeah even my shoes got wet from inside as the rain was so heavy and the water gets into it by the socks…

I did another break in the afternoon and had a coffee. Here is how you get a Vietnamese coffee.

As I just want to continue to get closer to Hà Nội,  I decided to continue as long as my legs would not hurt too much,  but as the sun light went away and there was more traffic,  I haven’t felt save anymore so I took the next hotel I found,  which is in Yên Phú.

I went for dinner in the restaurant next to my hotel and had a small discussion with the girl there via Google Translate.

I didn’t even take a single picture with my camera today,  all the pictures were done with my smart phone.

Tomorrow I will continue to Ninh Bình and probably stay there for one day,  as my brother will arrive in the evening of the day after tomorrow,  so I would arrive before him as he doesn’t know when his plan arrives in the evening due to delays.

Day 79: Day of achievements

Distance: 151,44 km Time: 6:48 Total distance: 4082 km 😁

Today the weather was great, nearly no rain,  expect for when I had lunch,  so perfect timing and there were just some short moments where there was strong wind against me, for the rest was it a slightly breeze against me. Also I was feeling good,  so I looked at the map and do a little bit more than I planed some days ago, because the quicker I am the quicker I get to Hà Nội and there is nothing to see on the road.

Again lots of rice fields around me with lots of little villages and towns. Some really little hills. The later it got in the day, the more fog came up. I arrived in Hà Tĩnh around 5 o’clock.

I took one picture with my camera on a bridge,  sadly I forgot to reset the settings from the caves,  that’s why the image is so dark. 

When I take a break at a café (sadly there are not that many cafés with hammocks anymore), I want to try out a new drink or a different brand. So I choose this drink,  which looked like lemon soda,  and I just saw the Vietnamese name like on this picture. 

I drank from it and thought: hmm there is salt inside. By turning the bottle I got the english name… I only drank half of the bottle😂

The first achievement of today was the milestone,  or more the kilometer stone I passed today: 4000 km of cycling on this trip😀

The next achievement is the maximum daily distance,  which is over 150 km😀 I have to stay,  when I arrived at the first hotel in Hà Tĩnh I looked at my road computer and was at 147 km. So I set this challenge to continue till 150 km.

An achievement I can’t prove because I never wrote down the daily average speed (I will calculate it at home),but I think today I had the highest average speed of 22,26 km/h.

Tomorrow again cycling as far as I come. Sadly the weather forecast tells again just rain…

Day 78: Into the caves

no cycling

The view from my room this morning.

This morning I remembered to take a picture of the baguettes they sell here. I had two,  as two are not even enough for me😂 There is some meat,  vegetables and sauces on it, sometimes also an egg.

At 7:45 exactly the van showed up in front of my hotel and picked me up for the tour. I was the first one. We picked up several more people so that the van was full to get to Phong Nha, the village from where one can discover different caves. Over half of the people in the bus were german speaking😂

Arrived in the village we went directly to the first of two caves to visit. The paradise cave. It is the “biggest” dry cave in the world. The quotes are because the word “big” can have many definitions😂 Like the longest, the widest, the highest,  the…  cave in the world. Let’s just say,  it was big and huge and beautiful. A dry cave means,  there is no Water like a river inside. But to get there we had to take electronic golf cars and then walk up 500 meters 😯 (To walk down again inside the cave 😂). As we were early there was nearly nobody inside the cave. The first kilometer is prepared with a walk with fence mad out of wood and everything is lit up by spots. And the end of the walk was how far we were allowed to go. By requesting an adventure tour I could have gone more inside,  but that would have cost more money and more time. Notice that the pictures are not always sharp and clear as the was not so much light and I had to play a little bit with the settings of my camera to get acceptable shutter time, as I don’t have a tripod on me (next time I will take a GorillaPod with me) and I used the fence to place my camera.

After exiting the cave through the same entrance we waited for everybody to come out and returned to the van.

We all had lunch together at a restaurant and I had some nice discussions with 3 germans,  one guy from Sweden and a woman from Japan living in Canada.

After lunch we went to the second cave. The Phong Nha Cave. This one is the “longest”  wet cave of Asia (I think). Again the word “longest” can have many interpretations. A wet cave is a cave with a river,  so we just took a boat and entered the cave with a boat. The boat took us one kilometer inside the cave and let us out there at a beautiful beach inside the cave. From there we walked again till the exit of the cave where the boat waited on us to take us back to the van. Again there was less light which makes a pictures not the greatest. 

The entrance

To show the size of that thing,  here I picture with a woman at the bottom

The exit,  which is the exit from inside😂

Arrived back in Dong Hoi, everybody got brought back to his hotel. I rested a little bit in my room,  went out for a walk and dinner and am now back in my room. I forgot to make a video about the colorful lighted bridge in Đà Nẵng,  so I did one here. It is not so amazing than the one in Đà Nẵng, but it’s still very nice.

After complaining everyday about the weather: Today the weather was nice,  a little bit of blue sky between lots of clouds and only a little bit of rain in the afternoon☺️ Hopefully it will stay like this till I am in Hà Nội. It will probably take me 4 to 5 days to get there,  depending on how fit I feel and so how far I can go oer day. This will be the only thing I will do the next few days, cycling, cycling, cycling. ☺️

Day 77: Đồng Hới

Distance: 67,00 km Time: 3:43 Total distance: 3930 km

As yesterday morning, I was not motivated to get up, so I got up again late. Outside it was still raining. Not much but still enough to have to wear a rain coat. After all,  my cloth don’t dry during the night as it is not that warm anymore,  so I just wear not completely dry cloth. The temperatures are still okay to do it and as soon as I start moving,  it gets warmer inside the raincoat.

I was out of energy. I did an early break and drank a coffee. 

Sadly after the break I was still without energy. So I had an early lunch at 11. After that one it was a little bit better. Also the rain had stopped and I could take of the raincoat. But the wind stayed. I even took out my camera to take some pictures😀 (the picture at the break was taken with my smart phone)

Because I was cycling so slow I arrived not that early in Đồng Hới at around 14 o’clock. After some searching I found a hotel to stay in and I put out all my wet stuff to dry.

As I want to visit Phong Nha and Paradise cave tomorrow, I tried to join a guided tour for that. I walked through Đồng Hới  to find some agencies offering that. I just found one place on the internet,  so I just went there. Now I have a tour which visits the two caves and picks me up in the morning 😊

On the road now appear always the signs with Hà Nội written on it and the distance. I find it nice because it is like a countdown to my final destination 😀

Day 76: On an unmapped road

Distance: 104,26 km Time: 5:25 Total distance: 3863 km

I didn’t want to get out of my bed this morning as I knew it would rain. Actually it wasn’t raining. It was just drizzle. So I was able to ride without a jacket and just my long shirt. But the closer I got to lunch the more it started to rain.

At lunch I met a British guy travelling with a motorbike. We had lunch together. The picture of him is actually the only picture I took today…

After lunch,  the rain was joined by wind and I got cold so that I put on my rain jacket. The wind slowed me then down. I just followed main road until I checked my GPS, I was in the middle of nowhere… I checked Open Street Maps and Google Maps, on both providers there was no road but it was the main road and all the traffic went over it. After 15 km it joined again the main road marked on my GPS. These 15 km were long as I didn’t knew if it would go into the right direction,  windy,  rainy,  lots of traffic on a small road and nothing but rice fields as far as I could see. The view wasn’t really clear because of the weather.

I arrived in a hotel and had a long half-warm shower. The heater didn’t gave out more hot water…

Tomorrow I will continue to Đồng Hới. There I will decide. Either continue and skip the national park or stay and visit the national park the day after tomorrow. It depends on the weather. Currently the weather seems to be fine on the forecast,  but I have to check that tomorrow☺️

Day 75: The city of slippy pavement

no cycling

So a day at Hue. In the morning it wasn’t raining. I walked around and went to a place where locals ate breakfast. I pointed at some food of people at another table, something with meat and these french baguette they have here. The guy went away,  a second guy came and asked “omelet or scrambled eggs”  and I said omelet. I thought it would be combined with the meat. No I just got a baguette with omelet.

I continued walking through the city and got a second baguette at a street vendor. This time there was omelet,  meat,  vegetables,  some more unidentified stuff and sauces. Really great. Continue walking around to get some coffee.

All the time people say “hi”  to me to either offer me a motorbike ride or to get me to eat at their restaurant…

Around 10 o’clock I decided to visit the old citadel of the last dynasty of Vietnam (beginning from something with 18xx till 1945). It is a nice place,  sadly a lot is destroyed due to two wars (I think it were two wars). A nice cheap animation movie explained me a little bit about it,  so I didn’t need a guide to get at least some information.

At 1 o’clock in the afternoon it then started to rain. As I left my raincoat at the hotel,  I had to get back there.

Arrived there it started to heavily rain and I didn’t want to go outside anymore, because my further plan was to rent a motorbike and visit some places 10 km away from the city center and I didn’t want to drive in the rain. So I spend the afternoon in my bed  sleeping,  reading stuff on the Internet and watching stuff on YouTube😂

In the evening (yes,  it was and is still raining) I went out  for some dinner and to walk a little bit more through the city through a rainy night.

Tomorrow I will continue cycling in the rain (as war as the weather forecast is correct). I intended to do an extraordinary distance of 164 km in one day as it is flat and I would reach another city where I would take another day of to visit a national park, but because of the weather, I split it up into two days of unknown distance😂

I saw this toilet today and I thought they had misplaced the sign…  I don’t know

ohh about the title,  I really had problems with the pavement here because it was wet. I nearly fell 3 times and started then to walk more carefully. It is possible that just I have these problems because of my medal plates underneath my shoes to fix my shoes to my pedals while cycling.

With this I also want to present my shoes:

1. My cycling shoes are the best. They have SPD, which is a system fix the shoes with the pedals. Great grip for hiking. I used them to hike up to Annapurna Base Camp,  therefore I took of the metal plates of the SPD system. And now finally the last feature cam in handy too. They are GoreTex,  so waterproof. Until now I never had cold or wet feed in these😀 The only thing I hate about them is getting them on and off.  As they have normal shoelaces to close it but also some velcro fastener,  so that the Loops of the node do not get into the chain or somewhere else. It’s a perfect solution for the problem but annoying when putting them on or taking them off.

2. My flip-flops,  what is there big to say, when the weather is okay (not like today) I wear them,  so that my feet can breath, but because I always wear my shoes with socks while cycling,  my feet are white and my legs are brown,  it looks a little bit funny. But I can’t walk for a whole day in flip-flops as my feet hurt then so much…

Day 74: R.I.P. Ipod

Distance: 108,58 km Time: 5:32 Total distance: 3759 km

The last few cycling days I had some problems with my music. I thought that my headphones were broken because the music was not working all the time, so I changed the headphones (yes I brought 2 pairs,  in case one breaks). I thought it solved the problem, as it was better but then it happened with these too,  so I checked both headphones with my phone and they were alright. So my Ipod has problems with the jack-connector. For those who don’t know my relation to my music: it’s really bad when I don’t have my music. I always take my headphones everywhere and listen everywhere,  even when it is just a one minute walk, I take my music with me,  I even listen to music while I shower (I have a speaker with me). My love to music is also the reason why I brought two headphones. This morning then I was unable to ride some meters without the music going out… So I was without music. But I still have my smart phone. I downloaded the Google Music App, they offered me two month of free music. So I try it out and am downloading lots of music to have it offline while riding. Hopefully my battery will survive with my power bank.

So that happened all before I even git to breakfast. At breakfast I switched then my music to Google Music.

As I wrote some days ago that the climb back then would have been my last climb PROBABLY,  it is proven to be wrong. Right after Đà Nẵng is a 7 km tunnel,  which one I didn’t want to pass with the bicycle. The alternative was a pass which is at over 400 meters of altitude (Đà Nẵng is at sea level). So I had again a nice climb and afterwards a nice descent. On top there was even a UNESCO world heritage site,  where all the tourist buses stopped. As it was the top,  I stopped there too and had a coffee😀

Somewhere there in the mountains there is the pass

view down on Đà Nẵng

my coffee

Because the wind was blowing strong on the other side and I was wet from the climbing,  I decided to pack myself good in

The view on the other side

And then there was mainly just straight road till Hue mixed with some Drizzle.

The Ipod was not the only thing which nad problems today. My rear gear shifter was making problems. My gears were jumping around sometimes,  which makes it really hard to ride… After multiple adjustments it went better again. In Hue then I fixed it adjusted it correctly (hopefully).

I found a cyclist hotel. The owners are cyclists themself and the name of the hotel is “Hotel Cyclist” 😂

Tomorrow I will spend one day to visit some of the stuff here at Hue

Some more equipment of mine: My notebook. It was a gift from SAP XM where I wrote my bachelor thesis. I mostly just write down as log: my distance,  time,  total distance and total time of my road computer. Also some phone numbers of people are written down here who I met on the road and they wanted to write down their number. Or I use it to compare prices of hostels/hotels or flight tickets. Something I did in the beginning was writing down some kind of “golden rules” for my travel, but i don’t add any more after rule 6. Some of them I ignore completely now some I respect,  but I never think of them.

A page out of my logs. Sadly some water git into it today so on top there is a little place where water is…