The traffic in Hanoi looked daunting and everything I read about it added to the trepidation, I was determined that I would ride out of Hanoi, opting not to stay on the outskirts of town and missing out seeing things in central Hanoi. I decided the best option was to set off early, to beat the worst of the traffic, so at 6:00am I headed off, it was a good decision, I managed to navigate my way out of Hanoi with its one way streets and crazy intersections.
By 7:00am the traffic was phenomenal, the diesel buses pulling in and out from the kerb to pick up passengers were not to be messed with. Cars and bikes darting out of side streets without a cursory glance, motorcycles and bicycles, trucks and three wheelers, all heavily laden with people and the tools needed for the day. There was only one way to cope with it, don’t panic and just ride, swerve around people, slow a little to let the cross traffic through.
To be honest I enjoyed the experience, I was right in the thick of it, all the street vendors heading out, the workers with their bicycles and scooters loaded up with flowers, shovels, chickens, fruit, you name it, it was on a bike! I didn’t feel remotely out of place and I just rode, trying not to do anything too radical. It worked a treat, with not even a close call. I think I was so excited to start my ride I didn’t really care. let see how much I enjoy riding into Ho Chi Minh at the other end.
The traffic didn’t really die down at all for about 25km, once I had passed out of greater Hanoi. I stopped for a coffee roadside, which was delicious but came with me providing an English lesson to the cafe owners daughter who studies tourism at university, that was interesting, thank goodness for Google translate.
I arrived in Hoa Binh after 72km at lunch time, hungry, drenched in sweat and needing a shower. It was a good ride, everything worked, no flat tyres or massive hills to contend with. People calling out and waving, pretty sure it was “hello”, but it could have been “crazy white lady” for all I know. Well I just smiled and waved back probably confirming their theory that I am in fact a little crazy!
The thing I love about cycling, especially in countries like these, is life is lived on the road or next to it, its just out there to see, never a dull moment.