Friday, 21 August 2009


Since my last report from Central Vietnam, we had to get a move-on towards Hanoi in the North. However, both Leana and I were suffering from flu, which hampered our progress somewhat. Therefore we had our visas extended – in the city of Hue. Hue, and surrounding areas, was the scene of some intense battles during the US/Vietnam war. Not too far North of there we crossed the former De-militarised zone (DMZ) on the 17th Parallel, the border between the former North and South of the country. Since the end of the war the ruined cities and towns have been mostly re-built, but in places there are still water-filled bomb craters amongst the rice paddies. Peasants still dig up bomb fragments to sell as scrap metal, and these people continue to be maimed by unexploded ordnance (UXO) – there are big signs in the region warning against this practice. I was again reminded how small the world is, as in the city of Ninh Binh we bumped into British cyclists James and Tracey – who we’d previously met in Cambodia. Just to confirm the tennis-ball size of the globe, in Hanoi we also bumped into Canadian cyclist Marc, who we’d met in Nepal and last seen in Bangkok. In Hanoi we also bumped our heads against the Northern border, as we were shocked to discover that Chinese visas are not available to South Africans in Vietnam. The implication of the non-visas meant that we had to re-invent our route (now I think I know what a headless chicken feels like). Hanoi, the capital and second largest city in Vietnam, is quite pleasant as far as large cities go. Yes, the roads are clogged with throngs of motorbikes, but the French legacy of tree-lined boulevards and architecture is still evident. The old part of the city, where we stayed close to one of the lakes, is interesting to explore and to observe Hanoi people going about their business. Daily distances cycled since my last report from Hoi An have been as follows:- Phu Bai 122 km; Hue 14 km; Dong Ha 73 km; Dong Hoi 104 km; Ky Anh 107 km; Vinh 106 km; Tinh Gia 115 km; Ninh Binh 107 km; and Hanoi 96 km, Total distance cycled from Cape Town to Hanoi is 44318 km.

No comments: