Arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport at 9am, the tour guide will pick you up and transfer you to hotel, you are free time to relax. In the afternoon, the tour guide will take you to try the bikes. Overnight in Saigon.
It was an early start, 6.45 pick up for an 11.00 flight – who arranged that timing?
It doesn’t take long for the banter to start……
…….What’s the weather like in Phnom Penh? – (are we going there?) – was very funny.
No one feels as fit as we were on previous tours for this trip and we all hope it’s not as hard something in the back of our minds tell us it will be
……Got your pedals? Yes.
……Bring any mountain bike shorts or just normal Lycra? Lycra mainly.
……It’s going to be wet, well at least it’s also hot.
…..How we going to deal with the humidity?
…..Those inoculations were really expensive weren’t they? How come the doctors surgery only take cash when you pay for a travel injection? Something dodgy going on there.
…..Should be a fantastic trip though, absolutely.
Check in and airport was easy and stress free. Breakfast very nice. I even managed a bit of whisky tasting in duty free. Well it has to be done, even at 9.30 am.
The aeroplane is very nice. Lots of room. Good food. I’m next to a window and there is no pull down blind but instead there is at button that controls the colour of the glass from clear to very dark. Wow! I’m sitting next to an elderly lady going to meet her daughter who is flying in from New Zealand. We chatted for a bit but I doubt we will swap e-mail addresses!
7 hours in to the flight and it’s quite boring. Had a meal, watched a film, had a little sleep, watched another film, stretched my legs for a bit. Getting a light headache but hope it doesn’t get worse, I am drinking water but probably need to drink more. So I will.
Another walk up and down the plane, another stretch and now worked out we have less than 4 hours to go – start to watch a classic film – Rebel Without A Cause, just to see what it’s about – didn’t last long!
I kind of want to write a bit about the last year, preparing for the trip etc. But I find I don’t have much to add to what I said a few days ago. I’m looking on this trip as a level of challenge that I’m happy if it’s not too hard. A different culture, great scenery and I hope food that’s at least OK. I want to be in a mindset to enjoy it all, not get down or ratty when I’m tired and be positive the whole way through.
2 hours to go and breakfast is on its way. I fancy a nice coffee to get me through the morning. Must mention that when we were over Germany / Belgium I was looking out the window and saw a fighter jet come out of nowhere from the front of the plane really close and then disappear towards the rear. It was so close I could see the cockpit glass. Amazing to see but also quite scary as it was so very close. I wonder what it was doing that near to us and if it counts as a near miss. I keep running it over in my mind how close it was and that it couldn’t have happened. But it did. Weird.
Gave up on James Dean film and the reading light is too bright. Can we land now please!!
Now blogging from my room at the end of the day and this is how the day went………
A fantastic flight overall (even though I seemed a little bored – as above). The airport was almost empty when we landed @ 5.45. We had a short wait of around 5 mins for our guide to turn up once we were outside – just long enough to start wondering… what if no one does turn up?…….but short enough not to get too concerned yet.
Our guide is Thai, yes that is his name although we managed to convince Keith it was Steve. He seems very good and knew all our names so he obviously did some prep for us beforehand. (*) What goes around comes around because Thai’s pronunciation of Keith sounded more like Kate, so Kate it is for the rest of the trip! We drove for about 3/4 hour through the city toward our hotel. It’s a busy place with motor scooters, cars and buses. everywhere. More western than I thought but not much eastern influence in the city architecture apart from an occasional temple.
We have a very nice mini-bus driven by Viet. I asked Thai if he was having a laugh with their names but he said that’s what they really were. If there is a third, I’m wondering if he will be called Cam!!?
We we hungry – Alan seems to be constantly hungry today – starting as we will probably go on, so Thai took us to a restaurant near his bike shop (the bikes are hired from him too). Traditional beef noodle soup was very nice indeed.
He seems to be looking after us very well and I’m confident about our time with him in Vietnam. We have to swap bus & guide in Cambodia as they can’t easily cross the border or work there.
Then we were taken to a coffee shop just round the corner for traditional coffee. Thai said the ‘weasel poo’ coffee (that Jason brought us home from his trip) isn’t worth the bother or extra cost so we had normal Vietnamese easy coffee. It came up in a small individual filter dripping through so slowly because they compact the ground coffee. When fully dripped through we added condensed milk ( and sugar if needed, but the milk was sweet enough). Then, the bit I didn’t expect was to pour the whole mix into a glass of ice. They don’t drink hot coffee here, which is understandable given the heat. It was delicious and I’ll be having that whenever I can over here. (*) It was when we were having coffee that Keith wanted to ask the guide something and called out “Steve”….well we all fell about laughing, it was so funny.
Then, as we were all wide awake, we went a few minutes round another corner to sort our bikes. They all look like brand new mountain bikes. Fantastic – very relieved. Front suspension and big bouncy tyres, a whole new style for us. They then fitted our pedals (so we can clip our shoes in as normal) and other bits and pieces to the bikes. A test ride up and down the street was good for us all and we are set to go.
Then to the hotel and it was only 8.30 or so. Rooms were still not ready so Thai took us to the War museum. It’s obviously one-sided against the Americans but I found it quite nauseating. The scale of the war, suffering and all the terrible things that happened to all involved was shocking. It was good to learn more of the background to the war and we will get to know even more as Thai will be unfolding his family story over the next few days.
We walked back to the hotel and, yup, had an early-ish lunch, well the rooms weren’t ready so what else could we do?!!! After the opportunity for a sleep was much needed and I had 2.5 hrs very deep sleep.
We met at 4 to go to the nearby market, which we found quite easily. Nothing special really, usual tourist rubbish, shirts, local bits and bobs. (*)Then on to find a bar where we could watch Spurs v Arsenal. We seemed to walk for ages and were helped by random locals (yes, men do ask for directions!) who were all helpful. Successfully negotiating crossing quite a few roads we found a bar, checked they would show it then went out for a nice sushi dinner. Watched the game, which was very good and just about kept me awake (not Alan though!), walked back to the hotel which was strangely only a few minutes away – how did it take us ages to get there?
So that’s it. Odd to think we are 2 days in but haven’t cycled yet. Breakfast at 6.45 and out by 7.30 tomorrow which will probably be the overall pattern. It’s almost 10 pm now and I’m looking forward to a good sleep. By the way, the time difference is 7 hours forward from the UK here so when we start cycling at 7.30 am, you will probably be fast asleep.
(*)Taken from Alan’s blog……..
What goes around comes around because Thai’s pronunciation of Keith sounded more like Kate, so Kate it is for the rest of the trip!
Coffee was served in a small metal pot which slowly (stalactites grow quicker) drips through into a cup. Several years later you pour it, with or without condensed milk, into a glass of ice. Result. Iced coffee that tastes like shit. The ambiance was further improved by listening to Boney M’s greatest hits – all of them! To be fair we had a really good laugh there.
Richard R decided that he needed more sleep and would see us tomorrow morning so the five of us headed for the market for some haggling. I managed to snare myself two bargain pairs of shorts which I’ve just discovered don’t do up because there’s no button hole! The space is there but there’s no hole but hopefully Thai has a Stanley Knife and can cut out the hole in the morning!!!