WE MADE IT! After 21 days and 1100 miles, Danny and I completed our trans-Vietnam journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks to all of you, especially my Jackson Middle School summer school class, for following along!
Stay tuned – there are tons more stories, pictures, and videos coming from the road!
Vietnam is one of the largest growers of rice in the world. I got to see the rice-growing process from the flooding of the paddies…
…to the harvest! After the rice is harvested, it is spread out to dry on flat surfaces – in front of homes, even on the shoulders of the national highway!
Scenes from the rice paddies – leveling with water buffalo, weeding, and homemade tractor wheels.
Just look at those colors!
200 miles south of Hanoi, we got lost! We’re not using Google Maps or Siri or anything like that out here, folks – just an old-fashioned paper map and Mr. Sun. Some locals helped us with directions, which was difficult with the language barrier. Our little turnaround totaled 57 extra miles on the bikes!
Trying to figure it out on my own…
Locals to the rescue!
The language barrier made it tough
We each talked in our own language, as if we understood the other
Hand gestures help!
Almost got it
Thanks for the help!
As a cycling enthusiast, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for bikes on my journey. Here are some I’ve come across in Vietnam!
When I checked out of my hotel room the other day, I had planned to give the hotel a credit card, but they told me that they would only accept Vietnamese money, called dong. So I spent all the dong that I had on the hotel room and couldn’t get any more before we left town. We stopped to get water, and I realized that I only had dollars. When I asked the shopkeeper if he would take that, he said no! After some negotiations, he finally took my dollars. Then I tried to get dong at a gas station, but the guy was going to gouge me! Finally, after several tense minutes, we found a bank and all was well. Why was this so critical? No dong = can’t buy water = WE WILL DIE!
I need to follow this guy!
Back in business!
Raging bulls, striking snakes, and the elements of Wyoming couldn’t keep the pioneers from reaching Independence Rock by their deadline of July 4th and they couldn’t keep they Pedaling Pioneer away either!
Watch the video to hear his tale and climb on top of Independence Rock like energetic pioneers of the past!
Follow this link for more information about this iconic landmark of the Oregon Trail
“You have died of cholera.” Those five dreaded words plagued those of us who played the Oregon Trail game in the 1980s and 1990s, but was also one of the diseases which could spread quickly and kill up to two-thirds of a wagon train along the real Oregon Trail.
The story of A.H. Unthank demonstrates just how quickly and unexpectedly cholera could come and kill. Click here to learn about the five most common diseases which affected the emigrants on the Trail.
Rode all day to make sure I got to see this iconic landmark of the trail! Amazing to see the hundreds of the names that were carved into the rock a century and a half ago!
Think you’re in a rut? Check out the famous Gurnsey Ruts in Wyoming! The Oregon Trail was forced away from the river at this point and the wagons crossed a ridge of soft sandstone. The geography of the area dictated that practically every wagon that went west crossed the ridge in exactly the same place, with impressive results – the track was worn to a depth of five feet!
Moments on the trail when I may have lost my sanity……
Sometimes you have to laugh at the Elephant!
The buffalo was an essential part of Native American life, used in everything from religious rituals to teepee construction. Watch and learn with this great video from the History Channel: http://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/videos#the-buffalo-and-native-americans
Since we are cooking with buffalo dung, lets learn about how buffalo were nearly brought to extinction with this History Channel video: http://www.history.com/shows/america-the-story-of-us/videos/american-buffalo?m=5189719baf036&s=All&f=1&free=false
ABOVE: Even after the Oregon Trail era, settlers in Nebraska used buffalo and cow dung to cook with—because the dried chips burned so well. Read more about it here: http://www.america101.us/trail/buffalo.html
Read about what it was like at a pioneer campsite from around 6:00pm to 9:00 pm, which is when most crashed for the night: http://www.america101.us/trail/Camping.html
Learn about the earliest explorers who went west, blazing paths that became the Oregon Trail: http://www.america101.us/trail/Discoverers.html
Pioneers on the Oregon Trail built fires to cook food, ward off wildlife, and keep warm on cold nights on the prairie. Which of these did they use to fuel their fires?
(Students, do not try this at HOME! I am a trained professional in the handling of Poo.)
Due to the unsanitary handling of feces, this video has been banned for younger audiences!
Ho Chi Minh City currently has a population of 6 million people…. There are only several war sites which are available for touring… Although some of the French architecture remains, most G.I.’s who went into Saigon for R&R during the Vietnam War would not recognize the modernized city.
I have a number of friends that have served in the Vietnam or “American” War. Some have made inquiries or requests that I visit places where they served during the conflict. With a limited amount of time, I attempted to honor all their requests, but the truth of the matter is that in the month I was bicycling in Vietnam, the reminders of the “War” only surfaced in several locations. A majority of the Vietnamese population is under the age of 30! Average life expectancy is 66 years old….. For most Vietnamese, the “American War” is not in their memory.
While not a complete “war tour”, I was able to see some of the history from this time period. This section is dedicated to my friend Paul Ebaugh III who served in Vietnam in 1968-69, and passed away on January 19th, 2016.
When we arrived at the former Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) we arranged for a tour of the Vinh Moc Tunnels…. These tunnels housed from 300-500 people over a period of years! They had a hospital, school, nursery, family areas, a water well and entertainment spaces… ALL UNDERGROUND! There were 3 levels, with the deepest being 35 meters below ground (100 feet!) All of these tunnels were carved out of clay, which was sticky and slightly damp and VERY DARK! (the tunnels were lit during this period with oil lamps)
This was how the Vietnamese used the bicycle during the war and still use it Today!
The DMZ or Demilitarized Zone was the next thing on our list! Our interpreter Mr. Hoa used his first hand knowledge of the area to show us around. He was a teenager when the first U.S. Marines came to Vietnam, and was conscripted into the South Vietnamese Army before the end of the war. Most of our DMZ Tour was along highway number 9. The string of bases is shown below:
It is HOT in Vietnam!! It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to ride after 11:00 a.m. The temps were always above 100 and most days 110-115 degrees! We weren’t the only ones resting…. Most Vietnamese rest during the middle of the day…
After several attempts to practice before I left, I realized that the Vietnamese language isn’t ONE language, but MANY!!! There are 53 different ethnic groups in Vietnam, and they all speak “Vietnamese” a little differently…. One word said with a different tone can have an entirely different meaning…. Still, I TRIED!
There are certain things which amazed me as I was traveling through Vietnam. Here are two examples……
In case you find yourself on Highway One and you are not hungry…. There are many other items that might interest you!
Or perhaps something decorative for your Lawn or Garden?