BIKING THE MEKONG DELTA IN VIETNAM
Posted: 5/31/2018 | may 31st, 2018
I satisfied Matt as well as Kat in Ninh Binh in northern Vietnam. They were a British couple cycling across Southeast Asia for six months. Being the only people in our guesthouse, we spent a couple evenings eating, drinking beer, as well as talking. We ended up being good friends out of necessity, less for them since they had each other as well as more for me, who was a bit tired from being alone.
And then, like so many travel relationships, it was time to state good-bye. In the blink of an eye, it was time for all of us to move on.
But, during our time together, we had really grown to enjoy each other’s business as well as made vague plans to satisfy up once again in Ho Chi Minh City.
And, over drinks, what started off as an off hand comment ended up being solid plans to join their bike trip for a few days.
Our plan was simple: I’d bike with them across the Mekong Delta then take the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City, while they continued on to Cambodia. I didn’t want to buy a bike as well as wasn’t outfitted for a multi-week excursion, however a couple of days over flat land seemed totally doable.
Our very first day’s plan would take us to My Tho about 80km away. though I was no professional in kilometers, it still seemed like a long distance to me.
After costs a day searching for a bike in Ho Chi Minh City, I kept my stuff at my guesthouse as well as we left early the next morning.
“It’s great to get out early before the sun gets as well high,” Matt said. “Once it peaks, it’s extremely hot as well as we won’t get far between stops.”
The chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City are a no-rules zone. Pedestrians walk without looking, motorcycle drivers trip on sidewalks as they chat on their phone, as well as cars and trucks as well as trucks merge with utter disregard for others. It seemed the only rule was to drive aggressively as well as let everybody else adjust.
Matt as well as Kat led the method as well as I complied with as we merged into multilane highways without any shoulders, cautious not to get hit as giant trucks raced past us. Soon, rice terraces, dirty roads, as well as homes in the distance replaced the chaos of the city. We stopped for pictures as well as youngsters would come racing as much as us to method their English, look at our bikes, take pictures, as well as laugh at our sweaty appearance.
As the day dragged on as well as the sun got high in the sky, I began to run out of steam. I was not in as great shape as I thought. though I was a healthy eater as well as routine at my fitness center back home, being on the road for over six months had taken its toll on my body. My legs were sore, my speed slowed, sweat-stained the back of my shirt.
My good friends looked at me with pity. “Maybe we should rest,” Matt stated empathetically.
“Yeah, let’s stop for lunch,” Kat said.
We pulled into a restaurant by the side of the road. The proprietors provided us strange looks. It’s most likely not commonly that three sunburned foreigners pull in on bikes. We sat down, rested, cooled off, as well as gorged ourselves on pho. We kicked back several cans of coke – trying to replace the sugar we lost on the bike ride. I drank slowly, hoping to prolong our rest stop as long as possible.
“Come on, mate. We’re halfway there,” Matt ultimately stated standing up. “Du kan gøre det!”
Matt discovered a path off the highway with the countryside. “It’ll be more scenic as well as relaxing than this primary road,” he said, still worried I wasn’t enjoying myself.
We got off the primary road as well as headed with a few bit towns when we realized we were truly lost. method off the highway, we were now in deep trouble. nobody spoke English. We made some gestures at the very first group of locals we saw, without any luck. group two provided just as unhelpful. We tried to figure out a path however ended up back where we started.
Finally, we came across a guy who spoke a bit English. He directed us in a direction we might only hope was right.
So we biked. as well as biked some more.
There was still no indication of the highway. just empty roads as well as the occasional house. Eventually, we discovered a convenience store, as well as after some clever indication language on Kat’s part, discovered exactly how to get back to the primary road.
With 25km to go, I was dragging behind again. Our vigorous early-morning speed had come to a crawl as I pedaled with lead in my legs.
While Matt as well as Kat were reassuring, their faces exposed a hidden irritation at the time it was taking to cover the distance. What did we get ourselves into? they must have thought.
Around 6 pm, we lastly pulled into My Tho. I was barely biking at this point, moving only by inertia. I decided that after we had inspected in and, drank a extremely chilly beer, I was off to bed.
“Passports, please,” the clerk of the hotel said.
We all got them out.
“W hat’s this?” she asked looking at my photocopied paper.
Before we had left Ho Chi Minh City, I had dropped off my passport at the Thai embassy to ensure that I might get a two-month visa: one month for discovering Thai as well as the other for traveling around Isaan. Being the wise traveler I was, I kept a copy of my passport as well as my visa for hotel check-ins.
“It’s my photocopy,” I said, explaining the situation.
“Ikke godt. You have to have the original. You can’t stay here.”
“But it’s me. Look, I even have backup,” I said, pulling out all the papers that proved I was me, hoping to be granted a reprieve.
“Sorry, the authorities are extremely tough here. No passport, no stay,” she said.
“Well, my good friends have theirs. Can I stay with them?”
After trying as well as failing at five other places, it didn’t look like I would discover a location to stay. If we had gotten in earlier, we might have searched longer or come up with a solution. however the sun was setting — as well as with it the last bus was going back to Ho Chi Minh City. I had to choose quickly what to do.
“There is a bus to Ho Chi Minh City at 7pm. You can take that back,” stated the owner of the very first guesthouse.
It was 6:45.
As my guesthouse owners back in Ho Chi Minh City already understood me as well as wouldn’t request a passport, heading back to the city was the only risk-free bet. We got on our bikes as well as raced to the bus station. If I missed this bus, I may be sleeping on the street.
Luckily, buses right here didn’t truly comply with a set schedule, as well as they waited up until the last minute for late passengers (if the bus were full, it would have left already). This may provide us additional hope.
Despite our fatigue, we kept pedaling, trying to get to the bus stop in time. We went down the wrong street as well as had to double back. I was sure that I had missed the bus, but, pulling into the auto parking lot, we saw it that it was still there.
“Ja!” I exclaimed.
I stated good-bye to Matt as well as Kat, apologizing profusely for all the trouble, saying thanks to them for the experience, as well as appealing them drinks when we satisfied up once again in Cambodia. I plopped into the bus seat among locals gawking at my disheveled as well as filthy clothes as well as fell asleep up until Ho Chi Minh City.
It was 10pm when I lastly got back to my guesthouse. I walked to the bar next store as well as saw some other friends. They looked at me as I sat down.
“What the hell are you doing here?” de spurgte. “Aren’t you supposed to be in the Mekong?”
They saw the tiredness. The defeat. The sweat. The dirt.
“We may requirement some more beer for this story,” I stated as I began my tale.
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