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The Unexpected Perils of Biking the Mekong Delta

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The Unexpected Perils of Biking the Mekong Delta

Steve in SaigonBy Steve in Saigon   Posted 8th Jan 2016

In the Mekong Delta flat, gentle paths criss-cross endless rice fields and abundant fruit & vegetable farms, immersing our bike groups in a landscape, and a way of life, in many ways unchanged for decades. Though it is less than 90km from Saigon, to experience the remote Delta region is like taking a step back in time. So then, where’s the danger in that?

Danger #1: Friendly People
Deep in the Delta, along pathways tourists rarely see, there lies danger concealed in the scores of friendly people, challenging even veteran cyclists to ride steadily. From local school children waving and giving a ‘high-five’ to our cyclists as we pass, to the countless shop owners who look up from their work and step into the roadway as they hear their neighbours signalling the arrival of a Grasshopper group.

And then invite you in for tea or coffee!

Three generations in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam

Three generations of Vietnamese women who run a small cafe near My Tho - one of the first families we met while researching the 'Mekong Delta in a Day' tour. They helped us immeasurably by introducing us to local crafts people, and a man who rents us a canal boat.

Add to this sights so curious that you just have to do a double-take - which can also lead to bike instability!

Ducks on a bike

Perhaps my favourite Delta moment, a smiling couple aboard the local ferry who posed so proudly with their prized ducks as they headed for the local market. Not a word of English was needed to share a moment with complete strangers.

Yes, it takes immense concentration to ride a bike, high five school kids, and shout “hello” as you cycle a narrow concrete path. But with a little practice, the rewards are endless, and incredibly fulfilling.

Danger #2: Stunning Scenery
Two months after launching our new 'Mekong Delta In A Day' tour, one of our guides noticed a strange phenomenon. On each trip cyclists were falling off their bikes at a particular spot along the route. There were never any serious injuries but this spot became known to our guides as the ‘crash zone.’

Was there some hidden problem that the guides could not recognise? Did we need a new route? On a free day I decided to accompany one of our groups to see first-hand what was happening, and what could be done to eliminate what sounded like a real risk. After cycling approximately 8km the guide announced to me that we were approaching ‘ground zero.’ My senses on high alert, I made the final turn along a shaded pathway and there it was, one of the most beautiful rice fields in the Delta.

I honestly almost lost control of my bike from laughter! The ride to this point had been both interesting and quite beautiful. But this spot was what we used to call, a 'Kodak Moment', and I could clearly imagine a line of cyclists, not prepared for what they were about to see, crashing into the bike ahead of them as they braked on first sight of this wonderful scene. The solution was simple: guests needed a clear warning 100m in advance!

Rice field in the Mekong Delta

One of the many wonderful views to be found in the Mekong Delta.

Grasshopper goes to great lengths to research bike routes that exceed expectations. The 'Mekong Delta In A Day' tour has once again proved this to be true, with crashing success!

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