Biking Vietnam: A Unique Experience

January 25, 2002

An overflow house of Obsidians and guests (“standing room only” even at the potluck dinner) attended the account of Allan Coons’ 1200-mile, 28-day biking tour of Vietnam. The tour has unique elements and it was keenly narrated by the leader (and originator) of the tours of Vietnam, Hung Luong, a native born Vietnamese (now an American citizen).

The tour company set up by Hung is a non-profit organization. An amount of $500 over the actual cost of expenses is charged and is earmarked to go to the children of the poorest part of Vietnam by way of infrastructure construction for their schools.

Vietnam is 80-percent highland but the bike route taken, from Hanoi in North Vietnam to Saigon in South Vietnam, is primarily in the highly populated lowland country along the coast. Thus little wildlife is encountered, but there is spectacular landscape including many beautiful beaches. Temples, museums, ancient ruins, schools and people’s homes were visited.

Hung feels that riding a bicycle, as most Vietnamese do, serves as an intimate means to make connection with the people. Allan warmly attested as to the success of this aim. He always felt very welcome and was struck in particular by the courtesy and curiosity of the children, who are always clean and tidy — the result of the good bonding observed between parents and their children. The people in the countryside are poor, industrious, very friendly and happy to not be at war.

Obviously, this biking tour is more than just a physical workout and enjoyment of natural wonders, but includes a meaningful cultural experience as well. Direct requests for information regarding the tours to Common Ground Journeys, Inc., P.O. Box 8992, Portland, OR 97207 (Tel. 503-307-7524).

Bep Fontana


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