biking around Hanoi

Sent: Sun May 25 2008

Sunday
We are back home in 1 week
2 days of VN, 2+ in cambodia, 2- in bankok and 1 day flying home

It is 11 am
We are on our minibus traveling south of hanoi for our 3rd day of bicycle riding
Our new guide is the best so far, he is older and flows beter with our menatlitychange the plan often, take the other path, do unusuyal things. He likes it. Ze tuv li, ze tuv li

Today our spirits are not as high. Hope this will change once we are on the bike
Yesterday we cycled 55 km and finished witha massage.
By now we have had foot massage, face massage and body massage. Still one part of body missing a massage
Even lior loves the massage

The pace of the last 2 days is different
I am without the camera
Mostly country, villages, villagers
As so far, great interactions, lots of smiles

Leading sounds last few days:
Lots of crickets, especially around water, at times millions of them – incredible
Even in hanoi, by the small central lake in center of town what you hear are crickets and motorcycles
Motorcycles have 2 sounds. Motors. And when ever they pass you that of a horn
So crack, crack crack from the crickets
Bree bree bree and beeeep beeep beeep. No stoplights and when they exist, little attention is paid. How do you cross the street? Resisit temptation to stop and walk in a consistent and predictable manner. Most motorcyclists drive 20kph in the city and manoeuvre around you. Many of them just travel according to the bike next to them. Organized chous
While we ride, too much on roads, trucks passing by honk at us as well. The size of the car determines the sound of the horn. Some funny ones
The language sounds a bit like dutch to me

The weather has been very nice (realitively) 80% humidity and 35 degrees c or 90 f. Less moskitos than we thought. Every day we rub suntan lotion and anti moskito lotion. Which should go on first? We choose moskito second

Key words we use often:
ze tuv li
mh shehou betzem omer ze
– very strong man – that’s what most massage ladys say to me – they mean fat. So the guys are laughing at me often on that one
– optimization: when have a philosophical dispute. I claim it is important to understand what you are trying to optimizeze – it helps makes decisions. Li chi minh claims there is no such thing. What a budah. So, we make fun of the optimization theory. For example I need to pee during a ride. We ask the guide to stop. They do not like stopping in the side of the road – Communist discipline and attention to rules. Guide says in 10 minutes. But even in 10 minutes it will be the side of the road. And I have asked after waiting a while. Should I pee in the car? I ask the guys – I do not understand what he is optimizing – we all laugh
We continue to laugh a lot. Sometimes at stupid things.

Yesterday we ate lunch at a farm. It was a horrible lunch and a great experience. Havia. Li chi claims lunch is great. Madhima. Idan has not eaten a thing. All the vegetables are shoots. The chicken has skin and the fingers from the legs are in front of us. The sticky rice is the first time idan can not enjoy rice. We are worried that he is not eating enough. Rice with banana? Interesting, bamboo shoot is great. Rice wine is tough. Beer is hot. Flies all over, they were just at the pigs.
Lior is still in great spirits. We start making fun of him and laugh
The insight here is important. We should learn from li chi, enjoy the experience rather than try to rate the meal
The guide explains to us: if you eat rice 3 times a day, drink rice wine 3 times a day, and have sex 3 times a week, the doctor will never enter the house.
Li chi asks why not 3 times a day. I explain to him that some of has, including the VNs have to work
I ask if it is not easier to explain that less than 3 times a week and the doctor will come into the house
They guide says, less than 3 times a week and the lawyer will come into the house

More key words:
Fleemsy – a word idan brought to greatness. Anything that is not tight or well made or does not fit. When we try to by stuff it often does not fit because we are oversized relative to the VNs. – very strong men
Zip- our word for the gel we put on every stop – alcoholic disinfectant. ‘Give me the zip’, we did not ‘zip yet’

During the bike rides we stop at very authentic places – they look and smell like an ashtray. But cold beer is good. There are bangs – nargila like, everywhere. Lior wants to try one when he sees how mastool the guys are. It is only tobacco. We zip the bang. 3 puffs later the whole place is laughing. The locals are hugging lior. Houston, we have a problem. Lior is lost for the next hour
Another very common sound is that of a fan. Hardly any a/c.
Wherever we stop, even if for 5 minutes they bring us a fan, check our bikes.

Soap nazi
There is one at the corner of the street
Chicken soap rice noodles some greens. $1. You are In heaven.
It is called pho. Pronounced phAaa

Toda shevet uti lepo – thanks for bringing me here
A good replacement to ‘ze tuv li’ whenever a moment, a place or an experience is fantastic

Like today
We are back on the hiway to hanoi
Looks like a street in gaza

As you can guess, biking in 35 degrees c and 80% is like biking in a sauna. After 10 km and one big hill my shirt is wet like after a rain. Body is hot and I have a hard time cycling. The hill gradient is over 10 %. The locals who have simple bicycles do it walking. Even downhill some do it walking: old people and people with a large load – hurts your hands to pull the brakes
Back to me, the overheat light is starting to flash at me.. I tap the glass with my finger, trying to turn it off. But I can not get enouigh air in, heat out and my muscles are hurting. I stop next to a house. There is loud music. Tribal. A religion that was outlawed in the past, of mountain people is being celebrated next to a shrine. The religion focuses on forests,
Mountain and water. One female signifies each. Most people holding the service are women

I do not read enough in this trip

Back to bike trip
Our guide has a hard time continuing. He gets on the van
We go on. We get to a national park. Finally some shade.
And with it trees that are 50 m tall, banana trees with leafs that are 5 meters long
And the highlight, thousands of butterflies. Many different shapes and sizes.
While we ride, we scare some butterflies, so they fly next to us, rising from the soil, wet and full of dead trees.
We must have seen ten thousand of them

The last 10 km are uphill. But in a jungle, wet and cool. Really spiritual. When we get back to the bikes, it starts raining.
Our bodies are very exhausted despite a relatively short ride
As the body cools and dries, we are in a high

Over the last 3 days there are several repeat occurrences.
Everyone we pass is smiling and waving at us. Have you ever seen a fish on a bike? If it is a motorcycle, they slow down to talk, if it is a rural house the kids run upfront after yelling hello from the yard. Feels a bit like tour the france. Many other bicyclists are 2 on a bike with the one in the back holding an umbrella to block the sun. Several times when we pass a group of school girls – usually 10 or more – in white shirts the laugh. Even people busy at work yell hello and wave. Amazing

There are many snooker/pool tables here. Very low quality, but you see then in many stores. We play a game and half the village comes to see us. We are not good (because of the quality of the table), but enjoy it

We are talking about instant gratifications, delaying them and the need for early results or a threshold with positive feedback in long term initiatives. I claim this is for me a year of going for what you want and not delaying satisfaction. That is the reason we are here, in vietnam. Lior and idan discuss if idan is instant satisfaction kind of guy. NO.

The car is quiet, we are tired, it is late, we are close to hanoi, it is dark. Lior claims we are on the peripherique – the hi way belt around paris – we laugh

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