Riding through the French IndoChine – The Bhubaneshwar riding club

FinalOn a bicycle through the erstwhile French Indo Chine is one of the most interestingriding trips one can undertake. Navigating the coastline of the South China sea from North Vietnam beginning with its capital Hanoi leaving behind the beautiful Halongbay heading south through the farmlands to the old capital Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City, HCMC) riding across the rice basket of the world the rich Mekong Delta onward to the spectacular Angkor Wat can be one of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime

 And this is what the seven members of the BCAC, Sanjeeb Panda, Sudhanwa Dash, Bibhu Prasad Kar, Manoj Kumar Prusty, Gopal Krushna Sahu, Ajay Kumar Nanda of 22 Bikes the leading bike shop of Bhubaneshwar, and a special rider DevduttaKumar who did the trip successfully even though he is polio affected, experienced on their 2000 KM tour

 The club established in 2014 has over 100 passionate riders and conducts bicycle-touring trips and regular weekend rides to encourage people in Odisha to take up cycling 

 The route that the group took is one of the most scenic routes in this part of the world. Starting at Hanoi with green paddy fields on one side and the coastline on the other, the route is a heady mix of culture, cuisine, history and a unique architecture which is an amalgamation of Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. The route goes all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon that played a pivotal role in the Vietnam War. Some fascinating coastal towns like Da Nang which has the oldFrench colonial port and NHA Trang a coastal resort city dot the route.

 From HCMC the group turned inland intoBavet, the international crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam and went further up to Phnom Penh, the city that was onceknown as the “Pearl of Asia and one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina

 One gets to experience three kinds of weather along the ride. Cold with chilly winds, heavy rain and intense heat as you entered Cambodia

 The route is a delight for history buffs; Imperial City of Hyugen Dynasty in Hue, Ho Chi Minh square in Vinn, Cu Chi war tunnels used by Viet Cong and the piece de resistance the Angkor Wat temple 

 Some helpful tips if you plan this trip:

Check with airlines for any extra charges for booking a cycle box and ensure you stay in the 30kg limit for luggage. VISA on arrival is available for Indians. It’s advisable to learn basic Vietnamese. Change your Currency at major towns to avoid any hassles. Vietnamese SIM is advisable and Wi-Fi is available almost everywhere even at small road side shops. Hotels are good options and “NHA NGHI” (home stays) are available all along major roads at reasonable prices and even allow guests to cookRecommended local food is chuda and guda, “manda pitha’ & “muga pura

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