Chopsticks and Dodgeball

Distance: 57km
Temperature (max): 38.5°C
View the stats on Strava (Phần Thiết to Là Gì)

Total distance to date: 1,766 km

“Hello! What is your name?” asks Vietnamese child
“My name is Anita. What is your name?”
“My name is xxxxx”
“How old are you?”
[big long continuous smile….happy smile….long pause]
“I am fine, thank you”
[smile remains suspended, frozen in time]
“Bye Bye!” [insert enthusiastic wave]
“Bye bye!”

That’s the universal conversation with school children here in Vietnam. We surmise they have received schooling that conversations are only completed with “Bye bye!” and until that is delivered they continue to look at us with big toothy grins.

At family run stores when we stop to buy water or ice cream, children are often tasked with the business at hand. Simple transactions, but the look of pride on their faces upon completion warms our hearts.

People make contact with us in the most unexpected ways. While on a nice quiet road, a motorbike comes from behind and slows to keep pace with us.  First beside me—no English spoken—rather, gestures of support and enthusiasm and then an outstretched hand that I reached out and he gave a squeeze. Very pleased, he next moved up to ride alongside Randy and also extended the outstretched hand. People are not afraid to connect—whatever way they can and right across language barriers.

We planned on a short distance day but surprisingly the only hotel we considered was full on arrival. First time! We continued another 25km. The abandoned resorts we passed by outnumbered those still operating. There were stretches with opulent hotel villages that don’t look like Vietnam at all, alternating with much longer stretches where wealth & prosperity are absent. Gone. Vacated. Many hotels & homes looked like they might have been grand in their day, left now to the elements.

We are likely the only westerners in town. No English menus or signage to be found, but happy people everywhere watching, laughing, smiling at us as we walk the street looking for dinner. A lady was cooking up a pot of something roadside. Because we could see and identify the ingredients (and since she was the only gig open), we purchased a bowl of something-or-other and sat down at the kindergarten chairs to nourish ourselves. Talk about being the center of attention while you eat. All eyes on us! And no forks this time—we are deep into the Vietnamese way of eating in this town. Chopsticks & a spoon.

Much of our days are spent riding quiet roads, but city traffic is unavoidable. To best capture the feeling, try if you can, to imagine a video game—one of those dodge & avoid types where your job is to move forward, never stop, and get to the other side. Like dodgeball! But played on roads and sidewalks—and everyone’s got a ball. Whenever we reach the edge of town we breathe a sigh of relief.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vietnam 2024.


  1. I think I may have said this before but your experiences connecting with people in Vietnam could not have happened without your bikes…quite magical.

  2. That must have been a surprise to see Frosty still standing. Sad all those building and castle looking places have been abandoned

  3. I love the enthusiasm those Vietnamese have for you. Children can steal your heart for sure. Sad to see what was once someone’s dream home, resort, or castle wither away to ruins.

  4. What beautiful photos:). It’s been lovely to follow your trip:) Continued safe travels:):)

    • Thank you Carol! Documenting our adventures is our way of preserving our memories of the trip, and is our intangible “souvenir”. Sharing it with others is fun!

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