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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Vietnam (Day 8) Hoi An: Heaven & Earth Bike Tour

Another "wow" day of lifetime memories. Today we adventured on a family bike ride on the outlying islands of Hoi An.


I had pre-booked our tour "Morning Countryside (Private Tour with Lunch)" online.  Heaven & Earth and Grandma's Home Cooking are the same office and meeting place.  We again made the short walk for an 8:45 meet time.  We knew it would be hot, so we brought individual cooling towels, which if you haven't used them before are GREAT for keeping cool and protecting your neck from sun exposure.  After getting introduced to our two guides, we tried out our bikes getting familiar with a couple passes on the quiet street.  I was worried because Molly has never used brakes that are on the handles.  She looked a little wobbly to me, assured us that she would be fine.  And then, we were off - taking the same route as our previous day to the pier where our guides loaded all the bikes onto a small wooden boat.  


Our day began with a short boat ride with our bikes to an island for countryside bike riding.






After disembarking, we had a fantastic easygoing trek making stops along the way to learn about Vietnamese culture.

First, we learned about boat-making including technique, costs and longevity of boats. 


Next, we learned how mother-of-pearl art is made from scratch-to-finish gaining an appreciation for the details involved. 





And of course, LOTS of fun biking! Our guides brought plenty of water and we stopped whenever we felt like it, whether to take a closer look at something or for a water break.  It was very relaxing and easy.





My favorite activity of the day was learning how basket boats are made and then each of us getting to try one out IN the river! 





The boat lady makes it look so easy. It's actually a lot harder to control your direction, or at least, it was for me. Good thing she went with me or I would still be out there trying to get back to shore - hahahaha!







To hop islands, we rode across this rickety 🙈 bridge. True to form, Rob and Caitlin no-fear rode all the way across, whereas Molly and I walked most of the way. This was Caitlin's favorite thing and bravo to her accomplishment! We each find enjoyment in our own comfort. We definitely found it here in the quiet countryside of Hoi An. 



Molly chose to walk it across, me too!


I successfully rode the last half!



Then, we got an up close look at how rice wine is made. Rob and I both declined the offer to sample as it was just too hot to want to imbibe. 








Though we passed on the rice wine shots, we were delighted to stop for lunch (Rob's favorite part of the day). 





Finally, we wrapped with Molly's favorite which was the mat weaving before taking our bikes to the boat for the relaxing river ride back to our starting pier (a 35 minute ride from the 2nd island we biked). 







We had a fantastic time today and it was so special that we could each manage the bike riding. I didn't use a single bandaid! We went bike riding in Vietnam - woo hoo!! 

There are a few tour companies that offer biking-riding in Hoi An. Heaven & Earth is a solid outfit from start to finish.  I liked that we decided on a private tour because of the kids, but if you decided to go with a group it would be just as enjoyable.  We actually cross paths with groups as we were making our way around the sights. The guides are phenomenal and really make sure that you are enjoying your cycling.  With the private tour, we were able to pace ourselves and modify the route as desired.  I don't know how many guides are provided on the group tour, but we had 2 with us for our family of four.  The cost was $46 per adult and $23 per child (cash-only and paid at the office before the tour).  This included plenty of water and a DELICIOUS lunch.  


Wrapping up with our last night in Hoi An, we fed the kids and then left them back in the room while we went out for a "date" night. Can you believe they ate spaghetti bolognese for dinner?! But, it was actually pretty darn tasty! 



Anyways, we didn't go too far from the hotel, but did enjoy some time without the two clowns. Hoi An is a town of colorful lit lanterns at night. So gorgeous and such a great vibe! 








I took a million more lantern pics, so you have actually been spared with just this sampling - hahahaha.  I won't tell you how many we purchased.  But, we also had to buy another piece of luggage, ok it was 2 more pieces, for all of our purchases (Rob got a ton of tailor-made clothing).  Yep, only day 8 and we are no longer carry-on only travelers. 

Up Next: Hello, Hanoi!

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