Cycle to Hoa Binh Homestay, Mon 4th Jan

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Our route. 70 Kms. Lovely.

Our first day proper cycling.

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Memorial to the fallen VC soldiers in the American war. Still not sure who won.

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Lovely Muong lady, 56, widow with a son. You learn so much about a person so quickly. Very happy to chat (via Thong!)

Harder day on the bikes, 71km and some proper hills meant a 7.30am start. Our guide Thong (pronounced “Tom”!) is very knowledgeable, great English and has a superb sense of humour.
Stopping for coffee (not great, even though Vietnam is a major producer of coffee) we are surrounded by the coffee shop owner and all her extended family. Tradition requires that shoes be removed on entering a house. Linda was an honoured guest and this rule was relaxed. Not sure if she just looked very hot, and they were worried about the state of her feet. Again, not a word of English.

We are getting a bit anxious about the time to come without a translator. Neither homestead we have stayed in so far looked in any way like a place that had rooms or any form of hospitality. No signs, no receptions etc, and certainly no wi-fi.

We will pick Thong’s brains for useful vocab and advice.

Some talk about the Vietnam war, although for obvious reasons they call it the American war. We passed a memorial for the war, and also the guarded mausoleum for Ho Chi Min. His  body was held in state for some years.

Today’s tradition is still for the eldest son to bury his parents (ideally waiting for their death first) and then allow the body to decompose. 3-5 years later the body is interred, bones cleaned and then re-homed into a smaller casket. Many parents live with their eldest son and his wife. Often 3 generations in one house. Children be warned. We think it may be a good idea.

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