Sunday, December 23, 2012

Riding Bicycles in Hanoi (with video)

So, my wife and I recently got bicycles.  She has ridden bicycles in Ho Chi Minh City for awhile (and back home, nearly all her life), but I didn't know how I'd be able to handle the traffic.  And there is a bunch of traffic here, zinging around in every direction.  But I went ahead and got one.

At first, the trick was just to find one that fits, as there aren't many tall bikes here.  I found a couple of them but they were $700 and $1000 respectively -- high-end mountain bikes.  Finally, I found a tall 21-speed Schwinn for $350, including narrow tires, fenders, and a book rack.

The first ride was from the bike shop back home -- a couple of kilometers through all kinds of traffic.  My inaugural ride.  I tell you, once I pushed the bike into traffic for the first time, I took off.  It was amazing.  I could see over the traffic and could bob and break effortlessly -- much more nimbly than on a motorbike.  I could maintain nearly 30 km/hr, so, going to Doi Can, I was passing most traffic.

Since then, I've been riding to work daily and my wife and I have gone around West Lake each weekend.  That's a 17 km ride and it takes a good hour + with stops.  We're able to explore more on bicycles than on motorbikes as we're so much more aware of and connected to everything around us.  My motorbike is collecting dust.

Here is a video of our going to the B-52 museum to show you how it is going through traffic on a bicycle in Hanoi.  This is relatively tame traffic but it's a good representation of the experience.

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