Earlier this week I shared pictures from our time in Hoi An. I briefly mentioned that we spent one afternoon on a bike tour, but today I wanted to share more from that experience.
I had read about Heaven and Earth Bicycle Tours before we left and had it down on our itinerary as a possible activity one day. We weren’t sure it was going to fit into our schedule so we went to go talk to them. They were so wonderful and worked the schedule around our needs. It wasn’t too difficult considering we were the only two signed up (perks of traveling in low season), but we were still very appreciative.
The tour started off in Hoi An where we boarded a boat and took at 45 minute cruise down the river delta.
As we were cruising, I was chatting up a storm with our guide Hoa. She was telling me all about growing up in Central Vietnam and the impact the tourism industry was having on the economy and the job market for recent graduates. She told me how tourism is one of the most popular degrees for students to get because of the high demand in the industry right now. She also explained that is why so many locals get excited when they see Westerners that they can practice their english with. The better their English, the better job they can get in tourism. Her English, by the way, was great.
As we were chatting, Travis was snapping pictures of all the locals fishing in their boats and gathering fish from the fishing nets that are lowered at night to catch fish.
Another benefit of a private tour (intentional or not) was having a personal photographer. No selfie stick on this trip!
Once we got to the island of Duy Vinh, we took a stroll to a local house to cool off and pick up our bikes.
There we saw a mother and son team working together weaving sleeping mats. We learned about how each family on the island has a different trade. This pair makes the mats, then someone picks them up and takes them into town to sell in the shops and markets.
We also saw this sad reminder of Vietnam’s history- a vase made of an old bomb.
Next we rode our bikes to another house to see how they make Rice Wine.
Our guide said they call this Happy Water and it is especially useful in improving one’s Karaoke skills.
Travis was the only one brave enough to try a shot or two and he said it was pretty potent.
Next up was crossing this questionable bridge to a different island. Hoa said we could push our bikes across, but we are daredevils and decided to ride right across. This used to be the only way to get to the other island, but more recently they built a larger bridge that cars can cross as well. Even still, you rarely saw any cars at all. It was all bikes and motorbikes.
Once we crossed to the other side we encountered a boat full of very excited locals who kept shouting “Hello! How are you?” and “What’s your name?” which is when I officially decided Courtney does not translate well to any other language. I always just get blank stares when I introduce myself.
This kid loved to pose. I am pretty sure if he could have he would would have jumped right off the boat to come talk to us some more.
It was their Independence Day holiday so kids weren’t in school but you still saw plenty of people hard at work in the rice fields.
Our next stop was my favorite- the basket boat demonstration.
After getting a little tutorial on how they are made, we met this lovely lady who quickly stole the show.
She was tiny but feisty as I’ll get out. She loved Travis.
We got to test out our rowing skills, and I am pretty sure basket boat fishing is not in my future. The best part was our new friend kept us entertained with her songs the entire time. Gangham style was her favorite despite only knowing the chorus (actually are there any other words?!).
All of the local villagers were our favorite part of the day. They all seemed so excited to see us and would wave and say Hello.
Putting the rice out to dry. Also when Travis pointed out this is why we wash all of our grains before cooking…
Post-basket boating hydration. It was by far the hottest and most humid day we were there, 90F and 90% humidity. I have never felt more beautiful. So please excuse our flushed and dripping faces.
We biked past a school and of course I wanted to stop and take a look around. Since school wasn’t in session these kids were just hanging out and riding their bikes.
Biking through the rice fields with the wind blowing on our faces was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Our last stop of the day was to watch some carpenters building the traditional wooden fishing boats.
Every part of the boat is made of wood, even the nails.
For our journey back to Hoi An we took a local boat that was filled to the brim with people and motorbikes.
It was pretty crazy and we got more than a few stares. I don’t think they get too many tourists on those boats. Note: you can see the sleeping mats like the ones we saw being made earlier on their way to be sold.
And now I leave you with a funny story.
After we got back into town, we were in a leather shop waiting to be helped when we saw these men struggling to carry this bookshelf out of the shop. Travis immediately hopped up and grabbed the other side to help out. What started as a little helping hand turned into ten minutes of him assisting them not only carrying it down the street but strapping it on the back of a tiny little motorbike. All the while they are barking instructions in Vietnamese. I was clearly a lot of help as I followed them around and snap chatted the entire experience.
Well that’s all for now, folks! We only have Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City left on our recaps. Next week for Travel Tuesday don’t forget to link up and answer the prompt (if you want). Check out the info here if you missed it on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!