“Bike-packing is never a matter of money but of courage and a sense of adventure.”
Date: 8th~17thMay 2017
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia to South Vietnam
RIDE: Approx. 1020KM includes 715KM cycling + 305KM ferry
The history of South Vietnam can be traced back from a French colony of Cochinchina all the way to its independence in 1955 when it became world renowned as the Republic of Vietnam. In 1975, the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War was the commemorative reunification day of present state of Vietnam.
Along the Mekong Delta, Southern Vietnam has 13 provinces. Poorly facilitated infrastructure and amenities, a majority of the populace live along the river banks. Bicycle and motorcycles are the most common mode of transportation but traffic rules and civic mindfulness are largely ignored. The general conditions of the roads are in very bad conditions. Moreover, speedy commercial vehicles along the highways tend to ignore the safety of other users. Apart from the danger of cycling as a foreigner, language barrier is also an obstacle.
My girlfriend and I packed light for a self-supported cycling tour on our roadbikes for 10 days over a thousand kilometers across various terrains, including ferry rides. We departed from Phnom Penh City, Cambodia to cross border at Bavet/MocBai. We then rode across to TayNinh, Saigon, My Tho, Vinh Long, Sa Dec, Long Xuyen, RachGia, PhuQuoc Island, Ha Tien, Chau Doc and ended with a 5-hourcruise along Mekong River to cross borders again at VingXuong / Kandal, the custom post by the pier.
Unfortunately, 7 out of 10 days of tour, we encountered rainy days. In addition to losing GPS signals along the route and having to navigate the difficult way, we had to skip visiting some pre-planned cities; in order to arrive on the sandy beaches of PhuQuoc Island by the milestone we set beforehand.
Tall buildings can only be seen in Saigon city. Historical temples and memorial parks are worth a visit for their beautifully preserved architectures. Coffee stalls are unique with local cultures of hanging hammocks and short benches.
In most of the smaller suburbs and cities, Vietnamese Dong is the preferred currency for transaction. We have not found a place that foreign currency was acceptable, except in Saigon and PhuQoc. Finding accommodations was a tedious affair because they are not common in most places. However, rooms are cheap (<RM50) for large rooms, beddings are clean and comfortable.
Food pricing was comparable with Malaysian standards. Vietnamese use similar ingredients for a variety of dishes serving with rice or noodle. We enjoyed healthy and delicious local delicacies such as grilled bananas, smoked eggs, vinegar scramble eggs served in bun and yogurt ice-cream.
Although our exploration became adventurous after many struggles along long segments of dirt roads, hustling through traffic, along with a number of near-miss incidents; these places taught us to count our blessings for the safety and convenience we enjoy at home.
Ras Angela Wong
Cycling Wander Free Spirit. Writer. Reader. Listener. Thinker. Art & Culture Enthusiast.
Ras Angela Wong is a free-spirited novice cyclist who just started in 2016 but has already clocked into long distance cycling including going solo overseas. An event planner and manager, she also secured the title of Miss Malaysia Asia Pacific 2004. This cycling wanderer is also a writer, and an art & culture enthusiast. She’s also an ambassador of Cervelo, Monton and ApiduraMY. Angela’s cycling pursuit is to explore and experience the world’s famous festivals and cultures on two wheels. With a wholehearted mission to inspire women of all ages to travel freely and be empowered.