Saigon to Danang

We arranged tickets out of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the day after we arrived. The traffic was just too much to cope with in Saigon. Not a good place for children. After breakfast I went to city centre to buy roadmaps and a guidebook for Vietnam and then went to the railway station next door to the hotel and bought tickets for Nha Trang by the coast. We brought the bicycles to the freight office during afternoon and went to board the train in the evening. All luggage fitted just fine. Four big panniers in the upper luggage compartment and the folded trailer together with two small panniers on the floor under the bed. Soft sleeper tickets made the journey comfortable enough.

                 

We arrived early in the morning, went for breakfast at a cafe next to the station and then our bicycles were ready for collection from the freight office. We rode straight to the beach and Nina found a friend to play with. I went to arrange a hotel while Lucy and Pim enjoyed the shadow under some trees. We checked in and Nina and me went straight to the hotel pool to cool down. Later in the afternoon we went for a walk along the beach and played with the waves.

 

Following day we went to 'Vinpearlland' by cable car. It is a paradise for children with amusement park, flowers, shows, and swimming pools. Vietnams answer to Disneyland. We had the trailer with us for Pim to sleep in. At arrival Nina went straight to the Merry-go-round and jumped up on a horse. Then we went indoor and tried the Bumper cars and 4D movies. There were a lot for kids to do. Lucy played some games when Pim fell asleep.

 

We had lunch and went to look at fishes and flowers. The whole park was really nice setup with a lot of beauty to it. There were also an indoor aquarium with bigger fishes and other animals to look at.

 

We continued to the swimming pools. Pim had fun with Lucy in the shallow kids pool, while Nina went up and down the small slides all the time. Then they started the wavemashine in the other pool so Nina and me took one ring each and were floating around there for a while.

 

Both children fell asleep in the trailer after the swim, so Lucy and me went for a stroll along the shore as it grew dark. The cable car poles looked like illuminated eifeltowers in the dark. We went to see a fascinating 'water fountain music show', where the water was dancing to the music.

 

When Nina woke up I took her on a 500 meter slide down the mountain on a double rodel seat with manual brakes. Nice views of Nha Trang skyline from the top. We finished the evening by going several times on the Merry-go-round and then it was time to go back to main land again.

 

Next we had a rest day, doing nothing but swimming in the sea and in the pool. Following day we went to the small amusement park on walking distance from the hotel. Nina went diving into the balls and then we went all of us together in the big 'paradise wheel'.

        

I went flying around with Nina and she finished by the most fun of all, going on a train ride several loops around the track. Then it was time to go home and sleep, to prepare for following day.

 

For various reasons we had a late start from Nha Trang, following the coast along the peninsula. After a rest stop we had our first encounter with Vietnam's highway 1. It felt ok to ride there. A wide paved shoulder on the side and not too much traffic passing by. We however turned to use a smaller road when possible. This one became more and more narrow for every kilometer riding.

 

In the end we had to cross a wooden bridge and head back to highway 1 again. We stayed overnight at some hotel and continued following day. By mid-afternoon we came to Dai Lanh with a long beach and known for its delicious seafood. We rode 49 km first day and 45 km the second day.

 

Checked in at a place by the beach and ordered a hot pot of seafood. Yam! Nina found a friend to play with while we unpacked the bikes. We could almost hear the waves from our room when going to sleep.

 

Next day would become much more tough than expected. It was supposed to be only 45 km to Toy Hua so we had a late big breakfast and went for a swim in the sea before checking out. The map did however not show the elevation of the route. We had long uphills to tackle. At one point Lucy gave up and started walking with the bike.

 

Amazing scenery from up on the hills. We reached the summit, turned off highway 1 to a smaller road taking us downhill to the coast. Then we had to climb again, down again and up again until finally the road became flat. By that time it was late afternoon and we really struggled to continue riding at high speed towards Tuy Hoa. Arrived after dark with the odometer showing 59 km. The toughest day we have had so far.

 

Checked in at a really nice hotel by the beach. We got a big suite with seaview and breakfast included. Following day we went to the supermarket for supplies and also got some new toys for Nina and Pim. They were happy playing the rest of the day. We stayed several days in Tuy Hoa. The evenings we spent in a park across the road, to Nina's delight. She played with scooters and electric vehicles every evening.  

 

The last evening Pim joined her in a 'remote controlled vehicle'. He wanted to continue driving forever, being really happy for the experience. They drove around and around, back and forth until we finally decided to go and have dinner instead.

 

An early morning we left Tuy Hoa and went to Song Cau, using small roads along the coast most of the day. We had an encounter with a hill to climb and then had a long rest at a cafe next to the road. It was designed as a truck stop with ready made food and possibility of having a rest in a hammock to digest the food after lunch.

 

Arrived after 54 km, stayed overninght and made another 59 km the following day to Quy Nhon. The second day was hilly but also offered beautiful scenery. Weather was nice and we enjoyed the riding all of us. Nice views from up on the hills.

 

At the outskirts of Quy Nhon there was a modern supermarket were we stopped. They had an indoor playground for children which was much appreciated by both Nina and Pim. Later we continued to a small hotel by the beach and got a triple bedroom there.

 

In the morning we changed for another hotel some 4 km away, close to Barbara's cafe. We spent the morning at Barbara's, having pankake breakfast and other temptations. They had toys for the kids to play with so we stayed for lunch too. Handed in our laundry in the morning and got it back in the evening, still damp however because of cloudy weather. Nina and me went for a swim in the ocean during afternoon and sat in the sand, building sandcastles and playing with sticks. It was good to have a nice relaxing rest day as we had 3 long, tough days ahead of us to reach Quang Ngai.

 

Began the morning by crossing a long bridge to a peninsula. Rain started falling just as we reached the other side of the bridge. We were lucky to find a cafe there, with a big roof to cover our bikes. We had breakfast and waited for the rain to stop. Then we followed the quiet road 639 north. One woman was out riding bike with her young child sitting in the front basket. No need for a bicycle trailer when using this method.

 

Nice views all around and some hills to climb here and there. When we reached a village we decided to take a rest at the basic cafe. Just as we sat down the rain came pouring down. Such good timing! Would not want to be on the bike in such heavy rain.

 

Half an hour later the sun came through and dried everything up again. We continued on road 640 through a big cemetery and along the beach for a long distance. It was all flat around here and a breeze came in from the sea to cool us down. We saw hundreds of fish breeding farms along the coast. We turned left at a crossing and made a detour on road 632 to get accommodation for the night in Phu My after 71 km.

 

In the morning we backtracked a few kilometers on road 632 and continued north. We crossed over a river on a long bridge and saw the mountains ahead of us. Decided to take a rest in the next village before starting the ascent. However, too many rude children made our rest unbearable, so we stocked up on some drinks and went half way up the mountain to sit down and have a rest by the roadside instead. The children in the past villages we have cycled through have not been nice at all, as opposed to every other village we have come through. It was really steep to get up the mountain. From the summit it also looked steep to go down on the other side.

 

When we thought we had done enough climbing in one day we reached another long, steep hill. It was too long and steep for me to ride all the way with both kids and luggage. Lucy gave up and started walking so I asked Nina to join her. On my lowest gear I managed to ride all the way up with Pim in the trailer. We however stopped frequently to rest in the shadow. The sun was pretty stong at times.

 

The gears we have are good for all but the absolutely steepest hills. I can ride on 24 teeth in front and 36 teeth in the back. It is working down to 6 km/h on the uphills. I am really happy to have changed the chainrings to get up the hills without having to walk. Lucy have 22 teeth in front and 30 teeth in the back but her legs are not as trained as mine yet. Normally on most hills we can stay on the bikes both of us and ride slowly all the way up to the top.

 

We reached the summit, came down on the other side and went across the plain. It seems they have flooding in this area during rainy season as the road was prepared to measure water depth. By late afternoon we reached our destination Tam Quan when the odometer showed 70 km. Checked in at the first hotel we saw and Lucy negotiated with them to arrange dinner for us, as it started to rain outside again.

 

Next day was uneventful. We rode 79 km on Highway 1 to Quang Ngai with a good shoulder to ride on all the way. During afternoon there were a number of teenagers from South Korea on bicycles that passed by with police escort and support vehicles. We crossed a river and saw some houses built partly over the water. Found a hotel with a big room and two big beds for us. Pim is now able to walk back and forth with the support of a footrest. He was happy to practice his walking skills.

 

We went to the supermarket and they had a big indoor playground for children. Nina was jumping and running around while Pim took the opportunity to drive a locomotive. We had an excellent dinner at the supermarket with seafood hotpot and rice. Then we bought a big container of icecream and went back to the hotel.

 

Nina found a small size 'cyclo' to ride back and forth at the hotel. Later in the evening she joined some young boys in watching a movie before going to sleep.

 

We continued next day to Tam Ky, some 68 km north. Arrived early and found a decent hotel to stay at. The evening we spent at a cafe where they made artificial smoothies and we ordered nice food from the restaurant next door.

 

Continued north following day. It was cloudy and sometimes we got a sprinkle of rain on us. Nina and Pim sat together in the trailer while we pushed our way towards Hoi An. When crossing a bridge over a river, we could see our destination at a distance. But when we came to the junction, we could not turn right. The roads where not on the same level! We backtracked a few hundred meters and found our way through some narrow village roads. 

 

Came out on the Hoi An road at the lower level and went under the bridge we had stood on top of previously. Half an hour later we arrived in Hoi An and spotted the famous japanese covered bridge. Went to a restaurant for food just as it started raining heavily. Sat there for three hours waiting for the rain that just would not stop. In the end I went on my own to find a place to stay and then went back to get the others. It was a 59 km ride to Hoi An. Following day was rainy and boring.

 

Then we went to Danang. It was Monday 19 November and my birthday. First we went to the SOS kinderdorf to make an appointment a few days later to come and visit our sponsorchild Hoi. We agreed to came back on Thursday and on Saturday, her birthday. We then continued into town, saw the skyline of Danang as we went across the bridge and handed in our passports for Visa extension. Continued to a big supermarket where we spent the afternoon looking for presents for Hoi. This will be the first time we meet. We have only seen each other on photos so far.

 

Late afternoon we went towards the coast and arrived after altogether 39 km at our pre-booked hotel. Nina and Pim was fast asleep in the trailer. A tasty dinner was arranged for us and then we had coffee and cake in the room. Lucy and Nina sang for me. The hotel was really good and comfortable with helpful owners. We stayed three days and enjoyed the relaxation.

 

The beach was only a short stroll away so I took Nina with me for a swim a couple of times. Did some maintenence work on the bicycles and fixed a flat tire on the trailer. The first flat tire on this trip! I had a haircut and we washed all our dirty clothes. With clean bikes and clothes we left Eena hotel for the short ride back to SOS kinderdorf.

 

We were met by an english speaking secretary who took us to the house where Hoi lives together with seven other children and their house mother Chau. Hoi is the same age as Nina and within minutes they started playing together. Pim also enjoyed playing with the toys. All the other kids where either in school or at kindergarten so it was really peaceful in the house and in the whole village.

 

We gave Hoi a present, big size lego with a train. She is just the right age to appreciate such toys. After a while some of the other kids came home to have lunch and it was time for us to leave again. It felt really good to have met Hoi and now we know that she is taken well cared of. She is the youngest child in the whole village.

 

We went into Danang to collect our passports and then back to Hoi An along the coastal road, 44 km, and checked in at a pre-booked hotel. The Hoang Trinh exceeded all our expectations. We had a really good stay there. The food was great and the staff super helpful. Breakfast on the veranda in the mornings were overwhelming with pankakes, fruitplate, bread, egg&bacon, coffee, juice, etc. It was 23 November and the day before Lucy's birthday. So as a present she got a foot massage with pedicure at a professional place. In the late afternoon we went for a stroll in Hoi An old town and then had a really nice seafood hotpot at the hotel to conclude the day.

         

Saturday 24 November was Hoi's birthday and we arrived as agreed at 14.00. Several other children were invited for the party. They had arranged really nice with fruits, biscuits and a cake. All the kids sat eating on the floor and Nina was placed next to Hoi during the festivities.

         

It became a really nice afternoon with happy children and lots of smiles. Hoi appreciated having us there, as did the rest of the kids.

 

Hoi recieved presents from everyone. From us she got a dress and tried it on straight away. Pim was happy to find a trolley with handle to help him walk back and forth.

       

Everyday come to an end, also this one. When the party was over it was time for us to leave. Hoi, together with her friends Ha and Nina, walked down the path to our bicycles to see us off. Who knows when we will meet next time? We waved her and the others goodbye and went into Danang to stay overnight, the odometer said 30 km.

      

The map below shows how we have travelled through Vietnam from Saigon to Danang. Total distance on the bikes was 740 km from Nha Trang to Danang.

Red = By bicycle       Black = By train