Today we would leave Saigon behind (the name for the city most Vietnamese, other than government officials, prefer to still use), and head into the hinterland to pick up our bikes. We left during ‘rush hour’ and the traffic was unbelievable with special lanes for scooters. There are over 7.3 million scooters in Saigon and I think we saw everyone of them!!
Soon we crossed over the Mighty Mekong River, the fifth largest water system in the world.
Along the way we stopped what appeared to be a typical roadside rest stop. Just like ours at home but open air and with coconuts hanging around!!
About an hour out of Saigon we tied up with our new steeds.
Our guide Hai introduced the rest of the crew, including ‘Buddha’ the fellow with the green shirt. Huey and Buddha were old friends, having met on a prior ride.
Time for our first ‘official group photo’. (l-r) Paul, UK; Huey, CO; Brian, CA; David, CA; Eileen, CA; Tom, NY; Cynthia, FL; TommyH, WI; Lois; CA; yours truly; Bo, FL.
Half an hour down the road it was time for our first ferry ride . . .
. . . on what we were sure may not have passed a US Coast Guard inspection . . . but fun!!
On the other side of the river we toured this ‘backyard’ coconut processing operation . . .
. . . where the staff were busy separating the coconut from the hulls . . .
. . . here was the finished product. Ready for roasting and flaking!!
Heading on, we passed through our first small town . . .
. . . where not only did one need to navigate around the ‘business lorries’ . . .
. . . but also the pigs being hauled to market. Hello there big boy!!!
It was almost time for a little rest stop . I’m hoping to continue my vegetarian lifestyle on this trip. This may make it easier than thought!!
Not everyone in Vietnam uses a motorized scooters. Many older folks still ride bicycles.
Here was our morning rest stop . . . ahhh shade . . .
Got to go pee-pee . . . no problem, men just stepped across the road!!!
Lots of cold drinks and goodies (Tom, a retired EMT from NYC), demos chest compressions, he still remembers how to do, in case any of us have the big one due to the heat!!
We all enjoyed a delightful drink of fresh sugar cane juice. The stalks are run through a motorized press, a glass is placed below the spout and when the glass is full you drink it. INSTANT energy . . .
. . . to get us down the road. This was typical of the ‘roads’ we traveled on during most of the day. They were about as wide as an alley, back home, but serviced all the homes along the way. It was like suburbia, Vietnam style!!!
Hai and his wife have one child and are expecting their second. He was friendly with all the little ones along the way, in fact pulling these two little ones for a mile or so!!!
Lots of dogs along the way. Most looked like this one, reminding me of Daisy back home. When I asked Hai what the breed was he said, ‘Vietnamese dog’!
This is an example of the typical home we passed along the way today. Two rooms deep and two rooms wide.
Many homes had chickens. The roosters and hens were kept separate with these wire baskets . . . great idea!
In the afternoon, we stopped at another small ‘backyard’ industrial plant. Wonder what happened to the husks from the coconuts we saw being hulled? They are hauled to a producer like this. The threads of fiber are mechanically removed from the hull, and fed into this machine . . .
which spins the fibers into 10 different strands.
The strands are woven into mats . . .
. . . which are made thicker and fuller with every process until they are thick enough to become the ‘cocoa fiber mats’ you buy at Menard’s to put on your front porch!!!
One more short ferry ride for the day. As we were waiting, this fellow rode up with some new puppies . . .
who were very anxious to get out of their cage.
The final run for the day into Tra Vinh was during rush hour and the last several miles made for ‘interesting’ riding!!!