Biking Vietnam

Travel Destinations — By on June 19, 2008 at 7:14 am

It’s not a vacation for the faint of heart, given the chaotic vagaries of Vietnamese traffic, but Margo Pfeiff had an exhilarating time during a biking tour of Vietnam. She wrote about her experiences for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sucking in a deep breath, I launch myself into one of the most exhilarating and terrifying adrenaline sports I have ever undertaken – riding a bicycle in Vietnam.

Plunging into traffic here is like swimming amid a vast school of motorized fish. A wave of wheels – cars, trucks, mopeds, bicycles, dragon fruit vendors and buffalo-drawn carts – surges through broad boulevards where green and red traffic lights are mere ornaments.

Off my left handlebar, so close I can smell her perfume, a lovely schoolgirl perches on a scooter in a flowing white ao dai tunic with matching elbow-length gloves. To my right, a family of five balances atop a motorbike.

I get the sense that if anyone swerves unexpectedly, a domino effect of tumbling transport will be felt halfway to Hanoi. But somehow, magically, it all works, and when a pedestrian steps off the curb the stream flows around him as if Moses were directing traffic.

Before arriving, I had thought that visiting Vietnam without bicycling would be like visiting the Arctic without dog-sledding or visiting the Sahara without straddling a camel. But I hadn’t taken into account that this is a country where simply crossing the street is an adrenaline sport, and for the first few hours bicycling ranked for me in the white-knuckled realm of whitewater kayaking.

Cycling in Vietnam is a great way to get a feel for the tempo of the country. You don’t get any closer to the culture than wheeling atop levees between rice paddies, teetering dead slow through chaotic fish and vegetable markets, or swerving around steaming speed bumps left behind by the herds of cattle and buffalo that create frequent rural traffic jams.

Tags: , ,


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

Print This Post Print This Post

    Meet Bob Riel

    Bob Riel is a writer and a traveler. Go here to read more about Bob, his work and the Travels in the Riel World blog.

    Search this site

Visit Travel Blog Exchange