To describe the year 2020 as challenging would be an understatement. This year has passed by incredibly fast but it also feel excruciatingly slow at the same time! The world has been turned upside down. Majority of us are in this roller coaster, with no end in sight, of lockdown measures tightening or loosening to cope with the spread of Covid-19. In Melbourne, we are back into a hard lockdown since mid-July as we experienced a very serious community transmission of the virus towards end of June/early July. There is a very good sign that our obedience have paid off as new infections have dropped significantly for a week now.
I have been trying to write the backlog of posts to make good use of lockdown 2.0 but it is extremely difficult to find inspiration in this very mundane, groundhog-days like life. I am glad that my brain is in cooperative mood the last few days, allowing me to put this post together! Writing this cheer me up, give me a glimmer of hope and something to look forward to when this crisis is over! I hope that this post would provide some positivity for you too. I hope that you are coping well wherever you may be and that you are staying safe and sane.
Back in July 2019, I had the opportunity to do a 7 days cycling tour from Dalat to Hoi An in Vietnam. It was a spontaneous trip – I grew bored with the winter in Melbourne and booked a trip to Vietnam two weeks before the tour started! Obviously I did not have time to train to get my fitness ready for the cycling tour. Furthermore, I am not a regular cyclist (I did not own a bike at that time) and my fitness level was not at their best. I struggled so much with the riding, heat and traffic to a point that I felt very embarrassed. I learnt then that it is a very bad idea to go for a multi-days cycling tour without some sort of training or preparation. I made a promise to myself that I will always train and prepare for any cycling tour in the future! I was so glad that the tour guide, An, was able to get me an ebike on day 4. Otherwise, I would probably be in the support van throughout the tour.
Day 1 – Dalat
The day started with a 7am flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat then biking around the town.
Dalat, a hilly town, was popular with the French during colonial times due to the climate, but has since become even more well-known among middle-class Saigon folk who head for the romantic cool of the hills. Dalat is also known for some of the best coffee in Asia. It is situated around ~1700m above sea level hence the reason for the much cooler climate compared to other parts of Vietnam.
Day 2 – Dalat to Nha Trang
Day 2 started with a 1h transfer from city of Dalat to outer suburbs near Dalat and cycled from there to nearby Nha Trang. Then another 1h transfer to Nha Trang. It was a 75km trail with a snack and lunch break in between. But I only managed to do around half of the trail with mostly downhill.
Day 3 – Train to Quy Nhon
Day 3 was a rest day from cycling. We made our way from Nha Trang to Quy Nhon today, ~4h train ride. It was an interesting experience. Many Vietnamese travel from city to city by train. The train is fully functional but need some cleanliness.
The meaning of Quy Nhon is a collection of strong people. People who live in Quy Nhon have a tougher character sharpen from harder living conditions. Kids take karate lesson and I could see a group of kids in karate uniform when driving into Quy Nhon at nightfall.
Day 4 – Quy Nhon to Tam Quan
Day 4 was a 75km bike trail with a 1.5h transfer to reach the town of Tam Quan. Started off with a normal bike for ~20km then the ebike I requested finally arrived! Yay! Just in time for the ‘rolling hills’.
Day 5 – Tam Quan to Quang Ngai
Day 5 of our Highlands and Coast of Vietnam Cycle Adventure, we biked inland from Tam Quan to Quang Ngai. 85km day then 30 mins transfer to our hotel. Tam Quan is a very small village with no tourists at all, which I absolutely like. We stayed at the only hotel in town the night before and started cycling from here.
Day 6 – Quang Ngai to Tam Ky
Day 6 was our longest day, covering 96km. We had to make 60km by lunch and another 36km after.
We also visited the My Lai Massacre Memorial. 504 people were killed by the American GIs during the massacre. All were innocent villagers including many women and children. It was a very emotional journey going through the memorial. The director of the museum was very excited and humbled to see us visiting and having an interest in the memorial. She was very emotional in telling the story of how the villagers were attacked with surprise early in the morning. All of us were emotional with teary eyes. I was very sad and emotional too going through the photos and hearing the stories. I could not fathom why the American GIs decided to kill all the innocent villagers in these area. I guess war amplify the good/bad in us.
Day 7 – Cycle Fishing villages & Boat to Hoi An
Day 7! Our final day of Highlands and Coast of Vietnam Cycle Adventure! How fast it had gone by! (Now it felt time flies but not when it was day 1 or 2 under the heat and traffic). Today was an easier 55km cycling around the town of Tam Ky and its countryside.
AND…WE MADE IT! Yayyyy!
I cycled ~370kms in the past 6 days! Woohoo! It was only possible with the ebike and the incredible support of the crew! Extremely grateful to the awesome crew from Grasshopper Adventures! Their support had been top-notched. I received the best services ever – I did not even need to carry my luggage! Literally, I just need to get on the bike and ride every morning! I had a wonderful time with Grasshopper Adventures and everyone in the group. I highly recommend their cycling adventures!!
I am very thankful to be cycling with another amazing group of people. Everyone is incredibly strong (both physically and mentally), determined and fun to be cycling with the past 7 days!
I can see why Hoi An appeals to so many travellers. It is a quaint little town, much smaller than Saigon or Hanoi. Lesser traffic, easier to walk around. Beautiful old buildings, lots of great restaurants, lots of resorts and spa. Anyone would like it here I think.
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All photos and videos were taken using either iPhoneX or GoPro Hero 6.