We’re back home after a 26 hour door to door return journey from Hanoi, via Kuala Lumpur, to London.
In short: we had a brilliant time. We travelled in a group of 18 cyclists, cycling 470km in mostly decent weather and without major accidents, managed by a brilliant support team (the tour leader, the coach driver, the truck driver and the mechanic). We travelled by bicycle and coach from Saigon to Mui Ne, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, My Lai, Hoi An, and Hue, then took the overnight sleeper train to Ha Noi (the Reunification Express, racing across the 600km distance in just under 13 hours), where we explored Ha Noi City and Ha Long bay.
(Click here for the detailed tour itinerary.)
Even though we experienced some heavy rain, we were completely unaffected by flooding. Hoi An had been 6ft (180cm) under water just a few days prior to our arrival, but all had been cleared when we came. I can only guess that the clean-up involved a large number of busy Vietnamese people, starting much before sunrise and working until much after sunset, with inferior equipment and under dreadful conditions, but with a laugh on the lips.
More details upon request.
I recommend strongly that you do not travel to Vietnam. It’s just too lovely to be spoilt by mass tourism.
The pictures are now online. Click here for the very small subset for the impatient, or click here to enjoy all images. (Tip: try the slideshow feature, located at the bottom of the thumbnail images.)
On day 3, or the second after arrival in Borneo, we started our attack on Mount Kinabalu, with 4,095m south-east Asia’s highest mountain. One day to walk up to the Laban Rata lodge at 3200m, then up to the summit starting at 3am (!) on the following day, back to the lodge for breakfast between 8 or 9am (a 6 hours pre-breakfast walk), then a further 4 to 5 hours steep downhill back to the park headquarters.
The good wife braved it out through cold and rain, but I must admit that I was completely shattered when we reached the lodge, and skipped the summit. Jetlag and altitude aren’t a very useful combination when trying to climb a mounting. Combine this with the fact that the whole route is insanely steep, and you have the total of my apology.
I was in a way glad to hear that those who made it to the summit confirmed that I hadn’t missed anything else but a very strenuous walk in the rainy darkness. No sunrise above the rainforest or some-such, as one had hoped.
Local folk earns a living by carrying all supplies to the lodge (and down), at the basis of 7 RM per kilo (£0.10). The good news is that they are not allowed to carry more than 60 kilo per person at a time. We felt less guilty after making calculations in comparison with average factory workers’ wages, showing that these guys actually make very good money from this very hard work, but still the whole thing feels a little awkward.
You should have seen they carriers’ muscular legs, though. Quite a sight.