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Gain and loss after 24 days of cycling through Vietnam

The bicycle trip from Hanoi to Ca Mau left Plum scars on her forehead and tanned skin, but she was able to fully enjoy the beautiful scenery and make many new friends.

These days, when the number of Covid-19 cases in Hanoi increased sharply, Nguyen Man (32 years old) took a bus to Lao Cai city, then cycled to Sa Pa, Y Ty (Lao Cai). This time, she cycled for 10 days, crossing hundreds of kilometers of passes, with continuous slopes up to 15 kilometers long. Cycling has become a habit of Plum since his trip across Vietnam in March 2021.

Gain and loss after 24 days of cycling through Vietnam
Plum biking to explore Ha Giang in February this year.

Things to sacrifice on 2,200 km of roads

Plum’s trip started very randomly, just from the invitation of a group of friends before the New Year of the Ox. At that time, knowing in her heart that her friend was joking, she was determined to go alone. “I’m a person who likes to explore, and when I come to the age of getting married, the trip through Vietnam is a gift to myself. Everyone has a girlhood, I don’t want my 30s to go away without a mark.” , she said.

Cost is the first thing that Plum loses, even though he hasn’t hit the road yet. She spent about 9 million dongs to buy a bicycle with accessories, this bike can carry a lot of luggage, suitable for people who like to dress up like her. After practicing cycling for about 5 sessions, despite being inexperienced, Plum was determined to hit the road. She did not tell anyone about her journey, not even her parents, because she knew she would receive advice.

Bring luggage of about 15 kg including enough clothes for a day, shoes, car repair tools, the 42 kg Plum girl and you depart from Hanoi. Arriving in Vinh Phuc, she joined the group with 10 other members. Confident because she is healthy after many years of regular gym training, she thinks cycling is simple but has not foreseen the difficulties she will encounter when cycling long distances, through many different terrains. Her team consists of professional cyclists, so the first day they set a goal of cycling 100 km from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. “Everyone pedaled faster, so I had to do my best to follow, when everyone had rested, I still had to try to keep pedaling,” she said.

The next day, Plum can cycle more than 200 km, from Ninh Binh to Nghe An, visit Kim Lien relic site (Nam Dan district) Uncle’s hometown and 80 km from there to Ke Go lake in Ha Tinh. From here, she and her friends parted with the members for fear of affecting the movement speed of the group. She shared, up to 4-5 days when she gradually got used to her feet, her speed was better, she could control her strength appropriately.

In 23 days, she cycled through Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen… to Ca Mau, HCMC. She shared that to explore, it is not important to pedal quickly, so the route sometimes follows a zigzag path. She visited many scenic spots and monuments such as Hue Citadel, Lang Co Bay, Hoi An Ancient Town, boarded a boat to Ly Son Island, Vung Ro Bay, Vinh Hy Bay, Cham Towers, Da Lat…

Cycling long distances, so safety is always her top priority, she wakes up early every morning to check brakes and clean the sprocket. When there was a problem, she had to stop the car in the middle of the road to repair and do things she had never done before. “Many people say I’m free, go out and have a good time, but actually I also trade my time and effort for my experience,” she said.

The thing she found herself sacrificing the most on this trip was a beauty. On the 4th day of the journey, because her cycling technique was not good, when she arrived in Dong Ha, Quang Tri, she fell off her bike. Her broken glasses hit her forehead with a deep cut, blood drenching her T-shirt. She sobbed not because of pain, but because she was afraid that her 30-year-old dream could not be fulfilled and later had little time and opportunity to fulfill it.

Plum was taken to the hospital by her friend to treat her injuries. When she was less dizzy, the first question she asked was if the car was damaged. Ignoring the thought of going back to Hanoi, the next day she and her friends set off. “The wound that hasn’t been closed is very painful and painful, but it seems that because of the desire to achieve the goal, I forget it,” she said of the scar that still follows her to this day.

Because of the beauty of the scenery, she seems to forget the harsh sun of the Central region. Or the time she cycled nearly 140 km from Nha Trang to Da Lat, up to 60 km is a continuous pass. Under the harsh sunlight on the pass, she moved at a speed of about 3 km/h, using her hips to pedal because she knew that walking with heavy things would be even more tiring. After 12 hours of continuous cycling, she comforted herself when she was about to reach the destination, she was still crying because she was tired. On the way, she brought 1.5 liters of water, poured more every time to drink and could not eat much. At the end of the journey, her skin was dark and a few kilograms thinner.

After a journey

“Sometimes I wonder why I have to ride my bike so hard and the only answer is that I like it,” she said. Previously, she used to travel by motorbike and car, but it was only when she cycled that she had a more realistic and slower experience. Her favorite is through the sea route of Da Nang, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon… when she can feel the beauty with all her senses, when the waves beat in her ears, the salty taste of the sea spreads in the wind. One of her favorite destinations in Da Lat, because it has a cool climate, slow pace of life, and romantic scenery with pine forests and Tuyen Lam Lake in the mist.

Also thanks to unexpected situations during the trip, she learned to live more slowly, not as angry as before. Like cycling through Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, and Vinh Hy Bay, Ninh Thuan is very difficult. Due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, the shop was closed, she rode through the afternoon in the burning sun. Biking from 9am to 4pm, she had a place to rest for lunch, but she was still happy because of the pristine and impressive beauty of the sea.

Also thanks to cycling, she received a lot of love and help from people and new friends across the country, especially in the Central region. On many sections of the road, she was greeted by children and elderly people waving and asking, these are rare things when traveling by car or motorbike. The members of the cycling association followed her journey on social networks and invited her to her home for meals and rest. However, most of them cleverly refused, only going to the houses of those who were really close, like in Hoi An.

On the 23rd day, after arriving at Ca Mau Cape, she broke down in happiness because her hard work had paid off. For her, this feeling is happier than the great event more than a decade ago, when she passed the university entrance exam. The next day, she cycled back to Ho Chi Minh City to play and book a plane ticket to Hanoi.

“The trip across Vietnam has brought me many rare experiences in my life, I also learned to be resilient and calm in all situations. Especially, I learned how to let go of worries and fears, escape from work, Live your dream to the fullest,” she said. In the near future, Plum will continue to explore destinations around Hanoi by bicycle.

Since the journey through Vietnam, Man really considers the bicycle as a means of transportation, to go to work, to go out. Now she can comfortably wear skirts, beautiful clothes when cycling, despite many people looking at her curiously. “When I really consider a bicycle as a means of transport, I can ride it with anything, not necessarily sports clothes.” she smiled and said.

She also chose for herself a better bike, pedaling with less effort. On this trip to the Northeast and Northwest, Plum rode a bicycle alone. Many people saw her struggling to cross the pass and offered to give her a ride by car, but she refused because this was not a trip to check-in.

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