Category Archives: Biking

Vietnam #8: Two-Wheeling In Vietnam

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit
Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam

Sometimes, I have some crazy ideas. But every once in a while, I come up with a good one, and this was one of those times. I suggested we stay an extra day in Danang and book a bike tour of the countryside. At the risk of tooting my own horn, it was one of my better ideas.

I highly recommend Path Bikers. We booked a private bike tour for two for $50 USD a person. Our driver and guide, Quon, picked us up at 8 a.m., provided bikes, helmets, and waters for us, and guided us through small, backcountry roads we never would have been able to see on our own.

Quon’s English was surprisingly great. We bonded over TV (iZombie – yes!), while he taught us about the various local industries. He also was incredibly patient when we stopped for pictures every ten minutes. Just kidding. It was more like every five minutes.

The trip began on a dirt track that took us off the main road. I was in love already.

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On my bike, like a pro

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Lisa on her bike

Our first stop was a local fishing village.

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After the men catch the fish, the locals lay them out to dry in the sun. Then, the women prepare the fish for sale.

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We stopped by a local herb field, amazed by the amount of work that goes into maintaining and growing the fields. Seriously. Next time I’m too lazy to walk from the couch to the fridge, I need to remember this lady.

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Lisa tried her hand at watering the fields. There is a lot to be said for modern-day plumbing.

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Sometimes, we enjoyed the solitude of the open country road.

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Occasionally, we shared the road with motorbikes and other modes of transportation. I felt like a true local – except that I shrieked a little too often…

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We saw plenty of rice fields, though we were technically in the off-season.

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After a while, Quon led us out of the countryside and into the ancient town of Hoi An.

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After dodging a few too many motorbikes, we disembarked at the river and boarded a ferry – and I use the word “ferry” very loosely.

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A short ten minutes later, our “ferry” deposited us on a small island known for its boat building industry. Quon explained that every boat must have eyes in order to navigate. Not joking.

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Once the boats are finished, the fishermen take them out.

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We tried our hand (and feet) at walking on a “monkey bridge,” the bridges local fishermen use to access their ships.

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We made a quick stop at a home where a mother and daughter were weaving something.

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And as we headed back to our ferry, we got to watch some water buffalo rolling around in the mud, because, why not? What else does a water buffalo have to do?

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Biking with a guide is a great way to see the Hoi An countryside and get a little exercise. Our bike trip was one of our favorite days in Vietnam. Two thumbs up!

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Lisa and I with our excellent guide, Quon

 

 

 

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Part 10: Biking with Monkeys in Thailand

Part 1: When You Wake Up at 3 AM for a 6 AM Flight…
Part 2: Only 18 Hours to Go
Part 3: How to See Angkor Wat
Part 4: The Many Faces of Bayon
Part 5: Trees Galore!
Part 6: Cambodia’s Floating Villages
Part 7: View from the Top
Part 8: The Children of Cambodia
Part 9: When Politics Ruins Your Plans

Due to the political unrest in Bangkok, The Boyfriend and I decided to jump in a cab when our plane touched ground for a two-and-a-half hour drive south to a coastal town called Hua Hin for a mere $70. $70 for a two and half hour drive. Think about that. In New York City, it can cost $70 to travel 10 miles to the airport!

We chose Hua Hin for two reasons: We didn’t have a lot of options and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. If we weren’t going to see Bangkok, I at least wanted to see something amazing and the pictures of Khao Sam Roi Yot online looked pretty amazing.

We made reservations for a daylong bike tour with Tour de Asia which I highly recommend. Sadly, I can’t remember the name of our amazing guide, but he was amazing. His English was nearly perfect, and his willingness to answer all of our questions – as inane as they were – was just as perfect. He and the drivers picked us up at our hotel in the morning and informed us that we were the only bikers that day. Essentially, we had a private tour.

When we arrived at he park, we stopped at the park headquarters for a pit stop and to get fitted for our bikes. The grounds were littered with the cutest little monkeys… until one of them attacked me, and then they stopped being so cute.

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Yes, attacked me. One minute, I was taking pictures of the little buggers, and the next minute, a monkey was on my backpack pulling me every which way. The whole incident lasted all of 10 seconds, but it scared the hell out of me. I will never look at monkeys the same way again.

After I recovered, we started biking. The scenery was beautiful, and since we were the only participants, we could go as fast or as slow as we liked.

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Occasionally, we ran into a little cow problem and the van had to create a barrier so we didn’t get trampled on. Good times.

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I took this photo with my iPhone in my left hand while guiding my bike around the cows with my right. Pretty damn impressive.

After several miles of bike riding we ended up at the beach, where we enjoyed fresh coconut water straight from a coconut. Next up, was a short, but painfully steep, hike to an underground cave.

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The cave was surprisingly cool. The steep descent into the cave reveals a gaping hole that allows a band of sunlight to stream through over the temple the Thais build in honor of one of their kings

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I wouldn’t make a special trip to Hua Hin for the bike tour, but if you happen to find yourself in the coastal town with time to spare, I highly recommend Tour de Asia and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.

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Long Overdue Post on our Bike Ride to Jersey City

Life has been busy. Between work, planning for our big trip to Asia and way too much quality time with my dentist, I’ve neglected to post about our last two bike rides of the season.

This one took us over the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey on a dreary, wet Sunday. While the fog adds a bit of a mystique to the photos, I was a little sad to miss out on the awesome views across the Hudson we were expecting. In addition, if you attempt this route, know that the Jersey side of the trail is intermittent, especially in the northern portion and you will have to ride in the street or on the sidewalk at times.

Here is our route:

Bike Ride Jersey City - FINAL

We obviously did not bike across the water. We took a ferry from Liberty State Park to Lower Manhattan. Thus, the mileage is slightly exaggerated.

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A gloomy view of New Jersey as we begin our ride

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The George Washington Bridge ensconced in fog

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Riding over the GW Bridge is an exhilarating experience but also a grueling one. You have to ride (or walk) quite a bit up hill to get from the path along the Hudson up to the bridge. The good news is, there is a lot of downhill in your future on the Jersey side!

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The view of Midtown Manhattan from New Jersey

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A 9-11 memorial in Weehawken, NJ. There were several of these as we rode through New Jersey’s towns. After a little research, I discovered the two trident-shaped beams in this picture served as supports for the towers and were salvaged from the WTC site. They stand 8 feet wide, 30 feet long, and weigh 50,000 pounds. The memorial marks the area where about 60,000 people were evacuated by ferry from Manhattan to New Jersey.

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The historic Lackawanna Train Station in Hoboken, NJ

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The view of Wall Street from Jersey City

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Liberty State Park. We were able to see the Statue of Liberty in the distance, but between the fog and the limitations of the iPhone, I could not capture it.

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A 9-11 memorial in Liberty State Park, entitled “Empty Sky.” According to Wikipedia, the memorial’s name comes from the Bruce Springsteen song “Empty Sky,” which is about the “empty sky” where the towers once stood.

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Standing in the “Empty Sky” memorial

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We loaded our bikes on the Liberty Landing Ferry and took a 15-minutes boat ride across the Hudson to Lower Manhattan.

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The view of Lower Manhattan as we get closer…

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And closer…

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And even closer.

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COMPROMISE IS NOT A DIRTY WORD

No, I’m not going to get all political on you. I’m talking about relationships. Every good relationship has to deal with compromises at some point or another. That was how The Boyfriend and I ended up bike riding 56 miles on Sunday.

What?!? Huh? Let me explain.

We were all set to go for a long bike ride on Sunday. The Boyfriend wanted to go north into Westchester County. I wanted to go south into Brooklyn. We were at an impasse.

Now, I love furniture shopping. Love it. The Boyfriend loathes it. So I said we can bike into Westchester if we try to make it to my favorite furniture store in Hawthorne, NY. “It’s only 27 miles away!” I declared.

(What’s so great about this furniture store, you ask. It’s the Bloomingdale’s Home Outlet Store, and it’s the only one of its kind in the country.)

So that’s how this happened:

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And then this happened:

DJ Furniture Store

Did I mention The Boyfriend loathes furniture shopping?

Here are some other pictures from our 56 mile bike ride:

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The George Washington Bridge in the distance only 4 miles into our bike ride.

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The George Washington Bridge up close.

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Taking a water break after a particularly grueling hill.

Crossing Hudson

The Boyfriend crossing the bridge from Manhattan into the Bronx.

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Pretty water in Westchester County.

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Heading home… only 20 miles to go…

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Holy Bargain Basements – 40 Miles!

Last Sunday, The Boyfriend and I set out for our biggest bike ride yet. It was The Boyfriend’s idea to ride to Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) and back for a grand total of 40 miles. Of course I said, “40 miles? That’s nothing.”

That was before I experienced the hills. Now listen. I grew up riding my bike in Chicago — which is flat as a pancake. Guess what is not flat as a pancake? If you guessed Virginia, give yourself a prize. We’ve done parts of this trail before, so I expected the intermittent hills for for the first 13 miles. But when you hit mile 14…PAIN. I lost count of how many times I had to get off my bike and literally walk it up the hill like a complete weakling while other bikers zoomed past me. Let’s just say, I will not be riding the Tour de France anytime soon.

Behold our 40-mile bike ride in all of its glory.

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We stopped in Old Town Alexandria which is a midpoint between miles 9 and 10 to reward ourselves for our intrepid journey. The Boyfriend was very, very happy.

And this made me very happy…Reaching Mount Vernon. Of course, we had to turn around and do it all over again.

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Best moment ever…

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Biking to Brooklyn

Last week, The Boyfriend and I ventured into a new borough via bicycle…Brooklyn. It was a grey, drizzly day, but crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge — one of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S. — was a pretty neat experience. We didn’t have time to explore Brooklyn (my fault), but I hope to change that next time. Todays’s bike trip will take us into Virginia and should be our longest one yet. Stay tuned…

Only 15 miles, but I had a pile of work waiting for me...

Only 15 miles, but I had a pile of work waiting for me…

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The Freedom Tower

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Signs…

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More signs…

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The NYC skyline from the other side…

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Must come back with the DSLR…

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Why Run When You Can Bike?

Remember when I ran a half-marathon? It feels like a distant memory.

Sometimes, I look in the mirror and I have to convince myself that I’m the same person who ran 13.1 miles without stopping. The thought of running 3 miles is enough to make me want to throw my running shoes in the garbage. Clearly, my running career has not catapulted quite the way I imagined. And that is mostly because I am lazy and I don’t like running all that much – never have and probably never will. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that I’ve taken up biking again – an activity I used to love when I was younger and didn’t yet have a drivers license. When I was in college, I bought myself a beautiful electric blue Cannondale hybrid for what I thought was an exorbitant price of $500. I loved riding along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, which, I still believe is one of the best biking trails I have ever been on. So a couple of weeks ago, I brought the bike in for a tune-up, got some spanking new tires, and I was off.

One of the best things about biking is that it’s an activity The Boyfriend and I can do together. When I used to ask him if he wanted to go running with me, he would simply laugh – you know, the “what planet are you living on?” kind of laugh. As we switch off weekends between New York and D.C., we’ve been exploring bike trails in each city. This past Sunday, we rode north out of New York City, up through the Bronx and into Westchester. Here’s the map and corresponding pictures below:

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Picture A: Overlooking the Hudson River at 70th Street

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Picture B: The George Washington Bridge at 181st Street

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Picture C: A lighthouse underneath the George Washington Bridge

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Picture D: Overlooking the Hudson River as we cross over the Henry Hudson Bridge into the Bronx

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Picture E: The South County Trail in Westchester County. I took this picture as I was riding downhill!

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