Happy Holidays from Vietnam

by Kim on December 25, 2013 · 30 comments

Today is the third day of our bike tour and Vietnam is lovely.

Outside of Saigon the traffic has thinned, the pavement has crumbled, and the honking madness of the big city has given way to tiny indigenous villages where farmers and fishermen and their waving children live.

Yesterday we biked 56 miles. The ride started with 10 miles of rolling hills up to the small towns of Dong Mang and Long Lanh. Then we tackled a 3.5-mile climb over Hon Giao Pass, the longest pass in the country. It was difficult, but not as terrible as I had feared. My butt hurts like nobody’s business but that is inevitable.

The days are full. I am awake early in the morning and tired after dinner. My cheeks are rosy from the sun and wind. These are the ingredients of my favorite kind of day.

I am writing this on Christmas Eve. We have taken a boat to a tiny island called Whale Island where we will sleep tonight. The breeze is cool but heavy with humidity. Waves are crashing 50 feet from me. Christmas songs are playing from the loud speaker and a fake pine tree is sparkling with lights. I feel very far away from home but I am grateful to be here, on this mangrove island, with the waves and good friends and the promise of more miles tomorrow.

The beauty of Vietnam and the kindness of her people have already endeared me to this place. I love the interaction I am able to have with the people and the landscape from the saddle of the bike. Why have I not done any serious biking before?

From Vietnam I am sending you all a bundle of holiday wishes. I hope that you are surrounded by love and friendship as your year ends and that 2014 finds you happy and healthy.

Vietnam

Jungle Vietnam

Biking Vietnam

At the top of the pass Vietnam

Vietnamese coffee

Food in Vietnam

Boat to Whale Island

Christmas Eve sun

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

HP December 25, 2013 at 5:07 am

Merry Christmas from France.
HP recently posted..MERRY CHRISTMAS

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Merry Christmas!

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Jimmy Dau December 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Merry Christmas! Enjoying the Vietnam coffee? :)
Jimmy Dau recently posted..My favourite photos of 2013

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm

YES, that Vietnam coffee kicks ass.

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Martha December 25, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Now you are doing one of my fantasy trips! My first passport at age 13 said ‘can’t be used for entry to Viet Nam, Cuba, or North Korea’. I think this is one of the reasons I want to go, and have always thought a bike ride would be the best way to see the country. 2014 will be the year I conquer my last 2 states (Nebraska and Alaska) and then back to some more international travel – Viet Nam and Cambodia are high on the list! Enjoy your ride!

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I am absolutely loving Vietnam. Random fact… I just learned that “Viet” is the type of people (the Viet people) and “nam” means south, as in south of China. Cool, huh?

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Helen December 25, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Merry Christmas! Are you biking with a group of friends or is this a tour?

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Merry Christmas Helen! It is a tour group through REI.

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Zara @ Backpack ME December 25, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Happy Holidays from Incredible India! :)
We were also in Vietnam until last week… such a great country. Enjoy!!
Zara @ Backpack ME recently posted..Most Popular Articles of 2013

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Ah, India!!!! Lucky you :) Happy Holidays Zara :)

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motowngirl December 26, 2013 at 5:54 am

I biked the Camino with REI. It remains one of my finest trips, EVER – largely due to the 2 guides we had. They were fabulous. I have actually considered doing that trip again with my husband, but am a little afraid it might pale in comparison to the first. But it was a GREAT trip. Biking is a wonderful way to see a country. And the local people seem to appreciate that you are really taking the time to SEE their country. I did the REI Vienna to Prague bike trip, and that was wonderful as well. I like their trips, because they are smaller (16 people tops, I think) and the accommodations are nice, but not lavish. Why pay a lot of money for a place you basically sleep? Anyway – I look forward to hearing about your adventures on the bike through beautiful Vietnam Be well.

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:48 pm

I agree that our guides are wonderful and are completely making the trip for us… such a fun group of people too!

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Casey @ A Cruising Couple December 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Happy Holidays! Really looking forward to reliving our Vietnam cycling adventure through you! Looks like you have quite a crew with you- bound to be an amazing time. Cheers!
Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..You Can Do That With Chocolate? | Pure Jungle Spa

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:48 pm

We are with a tour group and there are 11 bikers- quite a few! But we are having a wonderful time.

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) December 27, 2013 at 3:47 am

So glad to hear you are loving Vietnam, though I can’t say I’m surprised. Pretty much everywhere else in the country is a world away from Saigon and utterly its own. Don’t get me wrong, HCMC is a great place to be, but for me, the magic of Vietnam is found in its countryside with its beautiful smiling people, far from the horns and noise of this colossus to the south.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Chewing the Fat with Emily Monaco!

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Yes, it’s amazing how different Saigon is than the rest of the country- and what a beautiful country it is!

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Patti December 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Safe travels as you bicycle across Vietnam and we wish you the best in the New Year as you continue discovering the world. Happy Holidays!
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Kim December 30, 2013 at 5:37 am

Thanks Patti. You too!!

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lynsay December 28, 2013 at 5:25 am

I am 90% sure I saw you and your husband bike through the market in His An this morning with your biking group. If so, how crazy! I recognized you guys from photos on your blog. Clued in when you passed by why you looked familiar. My husband and I are currently traveling in Vietnam for one month, se Asia for three.

Have a great trip!

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Kim December 30, 2013 at 5:38 am

Lynsay, you did! Actually, you saw Brian but I wasn’t there with him. How funny!! Where do you head after Hoi An?

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Kelli Mutchler December 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Best of luck in the new year, on new travels, and – in general – facing every Adventure that comes your way! I’ll be happily following along… : )
Kelli Mutchler recently posted..The Worst Christmas Ever (Learning to Make The Most of A Place)

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Kim January 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Thank you Kelli!! Happy New Year to you as well.

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Sarah Somewhere January 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Happy new year guys!!! What an awesome adventure. So cool!!!!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Getting out of my own way

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Kim January 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Happy New Year to you and Thyrone my dear.

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Hogga January 3, 2014 at 9:18 am

happy new year!

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Kim January 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Thanks Lindsay, you too!

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Turf to Surf January 5, 2014 at 8:15 am

Oh, man. You are making me want to go there and do a bike tour. My husband toured Vietnam years ago on a motorbike, long before I ever met him, and I’d love to go there with him and tour on a bike. I’ll be following your journey closely for tips. We’re in Bali now and we keep talking about doing a bike tour in Vietnam. I love the wonder with which you write about a place. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!
-Tasha
Turf to Surf recently posted..Clipper Race to Australia: The final hours

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Kim January 5, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Thank you Tasha. Enjoy Bali! It’s a little cold here in Vietnam and I keep dreaming of the beaches of Gili Meno… that place is heaven!

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Amy January 12, 2014 at 12:22 am

Beautiful shots of Vietnam Kim. I just spent Christmas in picturesque Dalat and New Year’s in Saigon, which was absolutely insane! I love Vietnam, it’s an incredible place and I look forward to hearing more about your epic bike ride through the country.
Amy recently posted..Video: Three Months in Thailand

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Kim January 12, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Oh, I’m sure New Year’s in Saigon was crazy!!! That would have been fun to see. Happy New Year, Amy.

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