This will be my last post for a few days. Tomorrow we board a Junk on Halong Bay, and I'm certain we will not have Internet for our two days at sea. The next day is a travel day to Cambodia, so I won't have access for most of that day either.
When I initially requested that we include some biking days in Vietnam, I had the kind of biking I do back home in mind. Road bike by Trek, a nice smooth open road with rice paddies on one side, and Water Buffalo peacefully grazing on the other; sunny weather with no breeze and low humidity. Perfect right?
This fantasy only goes to show how little I knew about Vietnam. Here is a picture of me on today's bike.
Not a trek, although in Vietnam this is a prized bicycle. You must be one of the top workers in order to obtain this bicycle according to our guide. Now, I'm going to call this a fixie. It had only one gear so that mostly qualifies. Although it does have handbrakes and I can coast, so that works against true fixie classification. The second thing you may have noticed is that it is woefully undersized for me. The seat posts in Vietnam do not allow for much adjustment for American height males. And the frame is similarly small. People in the market were literally laughing at the big american on the small bike as we rode by today.
All of this really makes me appreciate two things. One: bicycles are an important and prized mode of transportation here. We have seen thousands of people riding them to work and school each day, in big cities and small villages. Two: The importance of a bike that actually fits you.
Although we were not on nice trek road bikes, the scenery today was great.
After the bike ride, we had lunch at the home of Ms Qiy. She is a retired professor of Vietnamese culture at one of the universities in Hanoi. But now she lives in her family home outside of hanoi. Their family home goes back 21 generations! She lives in the home with her youngest brother, and his children. At the back of the home is a shrine where they worship all of their ancestors.
For Lunch we had fried spring rolls, some delicious pork wrapped in La Lota leaves, along with salad and rice vermicelli noodles. We got another nice lesson (and top secret recipe) for making spring rolls.
We were hoping to visit a primary school to speak english with some of the students but that did not work out as it is near the end of the year, and the principal and teachers had meetings that conflicted. On the other hand we were greeted by many school children as we left the village today. They all enjoy saying Hello to us, partly because we stick out so much, and partly because I think they want to see if we will respond. These two were especially cute as they chased us down the street on their bikes. Not only did we get a "hello" from them but also a "good afternoon." When we stopped and asked them their names they became very shy.