Formosan Fat Tire Association - Mountain Biking in Taiwan  Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey
Formosan Fat Tire Assocation - Riding and Shooting Asia
Translated FFTA Site Content
Feature Articles and Trail Reports from the FFTA
The Best in MTB Trails and Rides in Taiwan
The Top Mountain Biking Photos from Taiwan and Around Asia
Listing of Quality Mountain Bike Shops
The Ledge MTB Product Reviews

Links to Other MTB Related Sites
Contact the FFTA
Site Map of the FormosanFatTire.com Website
 
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Vietnamese bus horns must be the loudest in Asia. My first experience of this almost makes me jump off my bike and into the garbage lining the streets of Danang. Heading out of the city towards Hoi An, it was like waiting for bombs to go off.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale After 10km my nerves can’t handle it anymore and I resort to plugging my ears. This takes the edge off things, and I’m finally able to settle down to enjoying the countryside and the smiles and greetings of Vietnamese people.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale It feels good to be solo riding again in a foreign country, with a feeling of adventure ahead of me. The 30km journey to Hoi An passes through the Marble Mountains, which are in fact a group of five hills slowly being demolished to produce an excess of marble kitsch. Sculptures vary from dolphins, lions, the stereotypical mother and child, along with an assortment of religious figures.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale The whole town is dedicated to this industry, and although the skill of these local sculptors is impressive, I can’t help wonder about the point of it all. I resist the temptation to purchase a half-tonne unicorn and move on.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Arriving in Hoi An, I am a little turned off by the artificial quaintness of it all. Looking at the number of French tourists being waited on by locals, Vietnam still seems very much like a colony.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Ultimately, I’m no different from anyone else and quickly settle into the role of a typical tourist: spoiling myself with the local fish delicacies and the very drinkable “Larue” beer. I also develop a taste for the hyper-sweet Vietnamese coffee served with it’s own self-contained expresso machine.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale I slowly adapt to the slower pace of Hoi An which, in spite of the underlying commercialism, is genuinely relaxing – particularly during quiet evenings along the riverfront.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale I spend far too much time here before beginning the journey south along the coast, but eventually I shake off my lethargy and head off.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Continuing out of Hoi An, I spot a trio of schoolgirls dressed in white silk cycling up ahead, and I pedal quickly to catch up. Suddenly there appears one more, and then another…..and as I round the corner I am confronted with a bobbing, weaving mass of white silk all the way to the horizon. It’s quite a sight.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale A nearby girl’s school has released its’ doors, and the entire student population is on two wheels ahead of me: all dressed identically in these dazzling Ao-dais, complete with baseball caps.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Experiencing Vietnam from a bicycle seat, rather than the comfort of a tourist bus seems a noble way to travel, and definitely adds to the sense of arrival in each new town. Although there are times during the day when I am gasping from the heat, arms fried from the sun, and caked in a dusty sweat, and I begin to think that what I’m doing is actually really dumb.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale After passing through numerous inland hovels, Nha Trang is a welcome oasis, with a picturesque harbour and a stereo-typical palm tree lined beach. For good reason this is one of the main tourist stopping points along the Vietnam coast.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Saigon is a full-on Asian city buzzing with excitement. I’ve never before ridden in such congested traffic. The streets are jam packed with motor-scooter traffic as far as the eye can see.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Somehow it all seems to work, with schoolgirls, cyclos, office workers, food vendors, hard-nosed taxi drivers, all bumping and scraping along shoulder to shoulder. Occasionally someone does a U-turn in the middle of the flow and the traffic mysteriously bends and folds around them. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale The days spent in Saigon drinking beer and lazing in pancake parlours are spiced up with these exhilarating rides through the city. I use sunburn as an excuse to delay my departure from Saigon, but ultimately I grit my teeth in preparation for the ride southwards out of the city into the Mekong Delta.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale I wear a face-mask for what has to be one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever had on a bike in traffic. For several hours I’m jockeying with buses and large trucks, darting in and out of gaps, occasionally balancing at a standstill, looking for a way forward. All the time I’m being subjected to constant noise, dust and pollution. Even Bangkok rush-hour doesn’t compare with this.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale The adrenalin heightens my reactions and sense of balance. It’s scary but fun. Finally I’m flushed out into the countryside and things start to ease up a bit. The rest of the day is spent settling into a long, hot slog towards Cantho. It’s all flat, except for the occasional bridges which hump up over canals.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Finally I reach a gleaming new bridge spanning the mighty Mekong River and I slow to a stop. The scale of this river has me speechless. The exhaustion of the day descends on me, and I stagger across admiring the view.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale In addition to the many barges plying up and down, there are other smaller boats lining the riverbanks with people fishing, washing, talking, buying, selling….. I begin to get a sense of how this river is entirely central to people’s lives here. It is the life-blood of this country.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale It’s a relief to get out of the saddle, and into a boat for the journey up river from Cantho. Floating markets occur throughout the region although there are some which have been sidelined for tourist display. Either way, it’s a fascinating view of the Vietnamese people who are clearly at home on the water.
Vietnam - Coast and Delta Journey - Photos by John McHale Bikes fit neatly within the long motorboats which plow along the waterways. Swamping other boats and catching fishing nets in the process is not uncommon. The markets are wonderfully chaotic scenes, with yelling, casual abuse and the occasional collision of boats.

All Photos and Text © John McHale.