Day 44:  17 February :  Hanoi to Hai Duong:  65km and naff all climbing

We decided to leave Hanoi on Friday 17 February as we both felt we wanted to be back cycling after a week off the bikes. Bernie woke feeling a little out of sorts, but still wanted to get going so we agreed to try a shorter day as we rode towards Halong Bay.  It was overcast and getting out of the city was a challenge – but then getting out of all major cities on a bike is a challenge!  At one point our Kamoot route took us along a narrow walkway next to an elevated railway track for about 3km.  This was just wide enough for 2 motorbikes and they streamed past us, not clipping our wheels but often not far away.  Eventually we got the other end – great relief.  However, we would never have found it without Kamoot and it got us out of the main city and across the Red River very quickly.

Small streets on the way out of Hanoi

We then followed the route through the “suburbs” but these were not rows of semi-detached houses.  We went past factories, motorways, universities and an area full of heavy goods vehicles.  After about 20km we stopped for coffee at “Bobby’s Coffee Shop” which was a modern (and packed)  coffee establishment in the heart of an industrial estate.  The coffee was excellent of course.  

And then we came across this lovely coffee shop in urban wasteland

The route then took us along back roads (and on one occasion a track that was not a road) past paddy fields, factories, little towns and rubbish heaps.  This area is a delta and every square metre is either built upon or farmed.  At one point we joined a road that seemed to have an endless stream of articulated lorries carrying containers, no doubt heading for a sea port.  We were pleased to get onto a smaller road and then stopped at a bakery to get stuff for lunch.

The only bit of the route with no tarmac – not a long section

We stopped at the edge of the village to eat our lunch and, of course, were joined by children. Western tourists seem pretty rare here – Western tourists on bikes are rarer and I suspect they had never seen trikes before.  They played around us, enjoying the novelty of us being there but not knowing how to communicate – and short of googletranslate there probably was no way of communicating.  But we were pleased to see them and they seemed pleased by the distraction we provided – and that is enough.

A final 15km and then into the town of Hai Duong.  Not in any guidebook but half a million people live here.  It is a functional town – not pretty but not ugly.  It feels as if virtually all of the town was built in the period since the war ended in 1975.  This is not an affluent place but there is also little evidence of poverty.  It is a Vietnamese Milton Keynes.

We found a hotel and went out for a vegetarian – cook it yourself on the table – dinner.  It was great and we are in bed by 7.30pm.  We are both pretty tired as we are asking our 60+ year old bodies to cycle long distances and keep healing.  There are times when our bodies are not quite up to our ambitions but they do their best and we respect them for that!  We shall have to see if we can do the 90km to Halong Bay tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Day 44:  17 February :  Hanoi to Hai Duong:  65km and naff all climbing

  1. Hope you both continue to recover. Take it easy with a bit more pizza and sky bars! I hated having to cross the road in Vietnamese cities let alone having to drive on them.

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