So let’s start this by stating that I haven’t ridden a bicycle in about… 10 years. Ok cool.
One of the activities that was organised for us on our tour was a bicycle tour of Hoi An and the surrounding area. Despite my lack of experience on a bicycle (I grew up in a city that sits on a bunch of hills and no one biked anywhere) I thought this was an experience I couldn’t miss out on.
He all got our bikes and headed off with our tour guide named Zoom Zoom. Yes. His name was Zoom Zoom. The first part riding around the town was fine and I got used to riding a bike again but as soon as we crossed the river and went out into the countryside… thing’s changed. It had recently been raining so there was this one stretch of about 200 metres that was just pure mud. Now, not being an experienced rider, this was tough, so tough in fact that I almost gave up. My little legs almost couldn’t push through the mud and I had to get off and walk my bike a couple of times. Eventually I got through the ordeal purely by thinking positive thoughts. I couldn’t give up. I was in Vietnam! Seeing the beautiful countryside with my friends! I couldn’t just turn around a go home! This was an experience of a lifetime so I powered through.
I was rewarded at our first stop when I had one of many “What is my life?” moments. Here we were, stopped on the side of the muddy path and there’s an old vietnamese man on the back of a water buffalo in a flooded rice paddy. He was there to offer us a ride. WHAT? Yes. I hopped off my bicycle and onto the back of a water buffalo whilst an 80 year old Vietnamese man chanted to me in Vietnamese and took me around his rice paddy. I got off, posed with the water buffalo and hopped back on my bike and rode on. Yes. That just happened. I couldn’t believe it either.
The next stop was a home that made rice wine! Rice wine is a form of liqour in Vietnam that’s basically like Vietnamese moonshine. We learnt all about how it’s made and then got to take a shot. It was strong… but actually not bad!
My favourite stop on the bicycle tour was when we visited some local ladies weaving sleeping mats. They sit there day after day weaving these mats to sell at the market so they can live. We learnt all about how they dye the reeds the different colours and we even had a go at it ourselves! They told me I was so good at it and asked if I could stay and help forever! Sorry my lovelies, I’ve got too many more adventures to go on! They were such sweethearts.
The final stop was at a house that made rice noodles. We got to make our own rice noodles and then eat them! We were served a beautiful lunch including traditional Vietnamese Pho with our own noodles in it that we had made.
Despite the pain and exhaustion the bicycle ride caused, I don’t regret it for a second. I’ve said this before but traveling is about going outside of your comfort zone. If I had said no to this tour I’d never have gotten to see and meet the locals of this beautiful city and I’d have missed some great experiences. I mean, who else can say they’ve ridden a water buffalo, taken a shot of rice wine, made rice noodles and made a sleeping mat all in one day? Not many people in the world and certainly no one I know, I’ll tell you that!