We went to Vietnam and Cambodia on a biking tour conceived, organized and guided by Mike Smith. Mike has been our guide for the 8 mountain biking tours we have taken with Rim Tours (out of Moab, Utah) and is a close personal friend. Mike is offering similar tours in the future and you can find more information by clicking on tours in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Our biking in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam started in the area of the Cu Chi tunnels NW of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), followed by biking south and west of Saigon. Our bike tracks are shown in yellow. We biked a total of 143 mi in four days. Between the bike rides, we were transported in an excellent van.

 

From Chau Duc, we took a boat up the Mekong river to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. From there we flew to Siem Reap where we biked the ancient sites of Angkor.

 

The picture above shows Yvonne passing monks on their morning alms (food) collection.

 

 

 

We transferred to the Cu Chi tunnels area and biked in the area.

 

At the visitor center, our local bike guide Phat gave us a presentation on Viet Cong tunnel systems.

 

Phat was born after the war as were many other Vietnamese and we never encountered any hostility toward the US for what happened in the war.

 

Vietnamese are concentrating very positively on the future.

 

We still felt some guilt since we’re involved in an equally questionable war right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Cu Chi tunnel area, they preserved many of the Viet Cong hiding places, traps, underground workshops and kitchens, and tunnels.

 

This is an entrance that is nearly invisible when closed.

 

The wood frame and lid are made of wood that swells when it rains keeping the tunnels from flooding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove to Cai Be where we did a local home stay (rather like a camp).

 

Among other delicacies, we had a Mekong River fish prepared quite beautifully and presented in this manner. It was very tasty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stopped biking whenever we saw something interesting.

 

In this picture, people are using part of the road to dry rice grains.

 

Mike Smith is in the brown shirt and behind him our very comfortable bus that was large enough for us, our luggage and our bikes.

 

 

 

Biking in the Mekong Delta area means taking ferry after ferry. This guy transported ducks (there seem to be three to a bag and 12 bags; i.e. some 36 ducks!). The ducks appeared to be content (they didn’t know where they were going) and so was the bike driver fiddling with his cell phone.

 

Since motor bikes are the primary mode of transportation, it’s incredible what they manage to get on one bike. It not unusual to see a family of four on one of these light bikes.

 

At the bottom of this page are more animal transport examples…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We biked around this tranquil pond and noticed the man with his baby. Vietnamese men appear to be very good with their kids and assume their share of responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, this is a (public?) toilet and Juergen demonstrates that one has a fair amount of privacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the many wooden bridges in the Delta region is often the only elevation change for a long time.

 

Temperatures were around 90 F and the humidity was high.

 

 

 

Yvonne in the same blue shirt as above boarding a ferry on the left below. We were fascinated how smooth, efficient, and orderly the boarding/de-boarding went. No pushiness - just like in traffic. On the right below, one of the locals, dressed very properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stopped at a nunnery and observed nuns (in yellow) and lay women chant.

 

 

 

 

By boat, we explored the interesting Cai Rang floating market just east of Can Tho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boats in the Mekong area often have fiercely staring eyes on the bow (we were told to scare crocodiles and demons away).

 

 

 

 

The floating market is an incredible jumble of boats. The produce sold by each boat is displayed on a long bamboo pole. The boat below on the right sells from top to bottom: papayas (?), a brown vegetable or fruit, red dragon fruit (one of our favorites), and two kinds of cabbages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s obvious what she’s selling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This lady prepares artistically carved pineapples for a snack at her fruit boat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On land, there are large markets with an abundance of fresh vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cute little girl below belonged to some of the sellers and she was bored!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Bridges” just wide enough for one person are called monkey bridges – because you look like a monkey when you use one.

 

Mike and Yvonne demonstrate a crossing. It was pretty wobbly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For our final dinner on the Vietnam bike tour in Chau Duc, Phat and Mike took us to a local restaurant and prepared a kilo (2.2 pounds) of beautiful shrimp using the stove on the table. After a hard day’s biking we also had plenty of beer.

 

 

Water hyacinths (native to South America) are a terrible pest in the rivers and lakes of SE Asia (and the southern US).

 

When not controlled, water hyacinth will cover lakes and ponds entirely; this dramatically impacts water flow, blocks sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, and starves the water of oxygen. The plants also create a prime habitat for mosquitos, the classic vectors of disease, and a species of snail known to host a parasitic flatworm which causes snail fever.

 

This is the first time Juergen saw a good use for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 3 miles SE of Chau Duc we had a nice sunset at the Sam mountain.

 

This is a pilgrimage area with a number of pagodas and temples

 

 

Following are a few curious items we observed:

 

Everywhere in Vietnam one finds these “wines.” The liquid is not wine but rice liquor (about 50% alcohol). Many items are used for marinating in the rice liquor: delicious are apples and wild honey bees (bees, honey combs together) we tasted those. We even ordered the silkworm wine (below left) in a restaurant. Tasted silky.

 

We did not taste the seafood cocktail below center (with a lizard thrown in), the snake wine next to it or the cobra with a scorpion in its mouth (below right). Neither did we taste the marinated goat embryo, snake, or root wine bottom left, or the stomach of porcupine wine bottom right. All of those concoctions are used for various medicinal purposes. We made sure we didn’t have anything these brews were indicated for.

 

 

 

 

We mentioned before that the ubiquitous motor bike is used for a wide range of transportation needs. Below are examples of live animals. On the left yummy dog puppies are taken to the meat market and on the right pigs. The pig on the bottom did not realize one should never use the lower bunk if there is a choice. Maybe it didn’t have a choice. And besides, it doesn’t matter in the long run. These photos were shot from the moving car.