A Travellerspoint blog

Tomorrow we cycle 65k from Hanoi to Ba Vi national park

.... in support of KOTO (KnowOneTeachOne) training centre for disadvantaged and street kids and run a not-for-profit restaurant in Hanoi in Van Mieu by the Temple of Literature. If you visit Hanoi, go! Food is really good.

Bikes are ready. I've managed to find a pair of cycling shorts as I left mine in England. Nick did send me out on a Sudocream-hunt: mmmmmmm. Boots haven't opened a branch here but did find some nappy rash cream........

Ok, so this isn't quite Pisa to Venice, conquering Mont Ventoux or even going up Kop Hill but for me it's about 30k than I have ever cycled before. 0700 start at one of the international schools for breakfast and then we are away.

More updates on Sunday (I may write it standing up). If anyone wants to sponsor/donate, I'll give you details. In the meantime, have a look on their website.

www.koto.com.au

Posted by langforda 03:22 Archived in Vietnam Tagged bicycle hanoi Comments (0)

First of many cycling blogs....?

We may have cracked Hanoi traffic.

Anyone who has watched the "Vietnam Top Gear special" will be aware of the comments the presenters made about Vietnam traffic and Hanoi is no exception.

A_quiet_ev..Hanoi_2.jpg

They do, nominally, drive on the right but the one rule is really to only worry about what is ahead of you and if you have caused a stir by cutting across others or just coming out of a side road without looking or waiting for "a gap", then that is all behind you and not your problem! Watch any YouTube film of Hanoi traffic/crossing the road and you will see that it really is "look after number 1". There aren't nearly as many cars as motorbikes, mainly because cars are so heavily taxed - to keep them to a minimum: if there was a huge increase in the number of cars then the major cities would very quickly grind to a complete halt. The cities are built for bicycles and manage to accommodate motorbikes when they became much more affordable and desirable and they outnumber cars and bicycles together. Hanoi must have been an amazing city to see all the bicycles whereas now it is very noisy with the thousands of motorbikes and people tooting their horns the whole time. The horn tooting isn't aggressive usually; it is used to warn other road users that you are on the road and coming past/through. There are some drivers who seem to sit with their hand permanently on the horn but no-one takes any more notice of them. There are few white lines and even where there are, no-one really sticks to them. The traffic lights at major junctions have a countdown so you know exactly when the lights will change. They think nothing of turning round in the middle of a very busy road and will do so without waiting for the elusive gap - just go. If it is easier for you to go up a one way street or go up on the other side of the road to reach your destination - then do it. It is quite an experience but the interesting thing is that neither Nick nor I have seen any "road rage" or the merest hint of it either.

So there we are. With our bikes. English. Used to calm roads, ordered traffic and the highway code obeyed. Any divergence from the aforesaid code would be met with angry words, gestures and escalating rage. The weekend I got my bike was Hanoi's 1000th birthday and the city was crammed with thousands of people who had travelled in especially for the celebrations. Those from the country slept out wherever they could and luckily the weather was glorious. The streets were filled with motorbikes, bicycles and so many pedestrians that it made moving very slow. It therefore wasn't typical Hanoi traffic. Lots of people waved, called out to us and grinned as these two very tall Westerners went by, slowly, on their bikes.

Since then, Hanoi has reverted to normal and yesterday, cycling back from our Vietnamese lesson, our friend Iben commented to me that we were now almost true Hanoian cyclists: pedalling along, side by side, knowing where we were going and talking most of the way. I guess we will only be true Hanoian traffic experts when we pedal, chat AND text at the same time!

I do virtually all my shopping on bike and have perfected the art of tying bags to the seat pole and rack to maximise the load and not lose any! My load in this photo is pathetic compared to others I have seen but even so, it was heavy stuff and I broke the bike chain. (It was mended by a guy o the side of the road for 15p).

Shopping_t..ese_way.jpg

Posted by langforda 02:53 Archived in Vietnam Tagged bicycle hanoi Comments (0)

At last! Transport independence in Hanoi.

I know how Toad of Toad Hall felt..................


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I've been a resident of Hanoi exactly 8 weeks and 3 days and, at last, I have a mode of independant travel other than Shank's pony!

Oh, I've eyed up every make, colour and size of motorbike and scooter on Hanoi's roads; I had an automatic bike up in Sapa for a day; I studied other road users; read so many articles, views and blogs from other expats who have gone down the motorbike route - some are very hairy tales; Nick and I even spent time looking at shiny motors in showrooms and discussing the merits of different varieties (!) with earnest young Vietnamese men. In the end, I've gone for a push bike! Of course the bike isn't up to Nick and his cycling cronies' standards - for one thing the tyres are a bit fat and it isn't a carbon frame (lordy, lordy) but I feel very comfortable with the silver machine. Nick did ride it back from "downtown" Hanoi on Sunday as I needed to get my "cycling legs" but I've been out every day this week so far - have my hair cut, go for a swim, play tennis, go for coffee ..... you can see being a housewife is really, really hard work but arriving on a bike does mean I feel slightly more saintly as I have burnt some calories en route! Many V'ese do look slightly longer at me as I sail past on the Machine in my (matching) helmet (and not a Burberry stripe in sight) and I've had lots of smiles, nods and a very cheery wave from a man in his conical hat. I even have a dinky little bell but I shall have to bring back Jay's hooter at Christmas and that will alert other road users.

If I carry on being this enthusiastic, Nick may have to buy another bike and then we can do gruesome twosome outings at weekends.

Oh, the joys of the open road......... Poop poop.

Photo to follow!

Posted by langforda 07:42 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hanoi Comments (0)

Singapore and the Grand Prix

We have always intended to make the most of whatever came our way whilst we are out here and the Singapore GP seemed too good an opportunity to miss!

sunny 28 °C
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Nick was attending a conference in Singapore on Tuesday and Wednesday and wanted to look at housing developments over there: it seemed such a great opportunity to go over, at the weekend, go to the Grand Prix and spend Monday concentrated on housing.

I know I'm not the first to go to Singapore nor the first to sing its praises but you know how it is! YOU go somewhere and as it makes such an impact upon you, you do feel you are the first to recognise it!

The Grand Prix was such fun. I'm not a great F1 fan but I know enough to enjoy it and, of course, the atmosphere of a night race is fantastic. We stayed in the Marina Mandarin so we walked everywhere and thoroughly spoilt. Nick, unbeknown to him, got good seats in the Connaught stand with a huge screen just to our left so we could watch the race and then, for the split second, as they tore past us, sparks flying and into the corner and away down to the Marina. Shame Hamilton was given a nudge and therefore out of the race but that's me writing as a F1 novice! This is the view to our right from our seats in the Connaught stand as the ghostly shadows of Alonso and Vettel came past on their lap of honour - it is them, truly! I don;t have the camera to take such action shots and anyway who wants a camera stuck to their face when they should be watching the real, live "thing"!

P9260984.jpg

The architecture in S'pore is extraordinary and anyone who hasn't been in the last two years, will see changes in the skyline, especially the Sands complex at the mouth of the marina and, as a Singaporean couple we met said, that this has all happened in 30 years and before that the city would resemble Vietnam as it is now.

The Singapore River frontage in Boat and Clarke Quays has been developed and are lively, entertaining places day and night - it, of course, wasn't always so and until Singapore had an efficient sewage system, it sounds as though you wouldn't have hovered long by it. The squatters were rehoused in a huge building programme, street hawkers given licences, sewage system built and a general order established. We were told that Singapore has no natural water supply so has an agreement with Malayasia that expires in 2051. Thus the plan is to built a dam across the river, by the marina, and as the water is now so clean, this will provide a reservoir of drinking water for the city.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMER[</p><p>On Monday, after the F1, we travelled on the MRT to outlying residential areas to look at developments as part of Nick's work and I took the photos.  I know these aren't really part of a blog but Travellerspoint gave me a quick and easy way of uploading the images for his colleagues in the UK and Vietnam.  Added to this, the photos and videos of Clarke and Boat Quays show what a vibrant and developed area they are.  Singapore is very photogenic - look at the architecture and amazing skyline and it is hard to resist "just one more photo".  I have truly tried to cut down the number I've uploaded here.......</p><p>Take a look too at the videos I've uploaded under my other Singapore blog entry which is really my homework from the trip!</p><p>I walked miles - how else to see anywhere? Sights, smells, sounds and also so different to Hanoi especially!  Also used the MRT: London Underground could learn alot from the cleanliness although their map was reassuringly familiar!  Can anyone tell me all the words to the jingle as the train is approaching ; "The train is coming, the train is coming...."  and then we couldn't quite work out the rest but think it was about getting in the right queue to get on board.</p><p>And shopping?  Well, of course I had to investigate Orchard Road.  We were staying near the marina so walked through the Marina Bay mall and A N Other One to get to City Hall MRT so got to know those without buying too much but Orchard Road is something else.  I'm not a great shopper - I get bored, can't see the point of wandering for hours but I was intrigued by so many malls and what the differences were.  ION is the newest and very smart:  I've uploaded some photos of the main atrium with the black and gold escalators and an external view showing the undulating roof.  Others are a mix of ages and range of shops meeting a certain price/quality criteria.  Joys of joys was the bookshop in Kinokuniya, said to be the biggest in SE Asia.  The book club girls at home had emailed the title of the next book, saying it was out of print but secondhand copies available from Amazon - did I want a copy sent out.  In I stroll in Singapore and there are 6 copies - all different publishers and prices - and out I wander with my Doctorow book (and a couple of other books to keep me going til Christmas!).</p><p>Nick and I will return as we didn't get to all four corners nor explore south of the River.  We didn't change all our Singapore $ into US$ so we shall [b

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMER[

On Monday, after the F1, we travelled on the MRT to outlying residential areas to look at developments as part of Nick's work and I took the photos. I know these aren't really part of a blog but Travellerspoint gave me a quick and easy way of uploading the images for his colleagues in the UK and Vietnam. Added to this, the photos and videos of Clarke and Boat Quays show what a vibrant and developed area they are. Singapore is very photogenic - look at the architecture and amazing skyline and it is hard to resist "just one more photo". I have truly tried to cut down the number I've uploaded here.......

Take a look too at the videos I've uploaded under my other Singapore blog entry which is really my homework from the trip!

I walked miles - how else to see anywhere? Sights, smells, sounds and also so different to Hanoi especially! Also used the MRT: London Underground could learn alot from the cleanliness although their map was reassuringly familiar! Can anyone tell me all the words to the jingle as the train is approaching ; "The train is coming, the train is coming...." and then we couldn't quite work out the rest but think it was about getting in the right queue to get on board.

And shopping? Well, of course I had to investigate Orchard Road. We were staying near the marina so walked through the Marina Bay mall and A N Other One to get to City Hall MRT so got to know those without buying too much but Orchard Road is something else. I'm not a great shopper - I get bored, can't see the point of wandering for hours but I was intrigued by so many malls and what the differences were. ION is the newest and very smart: I've uploaded some photos of the main atrium with the black and gold escalators and an external view showing the undulating roof. Others are a mix of ages and range of shops meeting a certain price/quality criteria. Joys of joys was the bookshop in Kinokuniya, said to be the biggest in SE Asia. The book club girls at home had emailed the title of the next book, saying it was out of print but secondhand copies available from Amazon - did I want a copy sent out. In I stroll in Singapore and there are 6 copies - all different publishers and prices - and out I wander with my Doctorow book (and a couple of other books to keep me going til Christmas!).

Nick and I will return as we didn't get to all four corners nor explore south of the River. We didn't change all our Singapore $ into US$ so we shall [b

[i]have to go back... Fab city but nice to get back home to Hanoi. Truly.

Marina Bay

Marina Bay

Posted by langforda 07:21 Archived in Singapore Tagged grandprix Comments (0)

Singapore with photos of housing developments for N's work!

Not exciting photos if U want bright lights but there, ostensibly, 4 work. "Earned my keep" taking photos of developments & uploaded ASAP 4 UK colleagues.Videos here R Singapore River, all other photos tagged "Singapore" .

sunny 28 °C
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Here are the photos and videos which relate to buildings, waterfronts and open spaces as background/thoughts for GreenTech. I will be putting more photos and, having just been to the Grand Prix, my "commentary" on our visit but work comes first!

Attached is a video showing Boat Quay 360 from the ASM, north bank. My apologies that I lose focus halfway through: I must get even stronger glasses!

This video is again Boat Quay but taken from the water.

a

Posted by langforda 22:16 Archived in Singapore Tagged greentech Comments (0)

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