total bike forever bangkok to hanoi 11

Bangkok to Hanoi

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Here’s the lowdown on the latest chapter of our adventure east. As the clock ticked from 2018 to 2019, we brought in the new year with our dear cycling compatriots, Oli and Ruth, casting our eyes skywards to the wondrous fireworks display Bangkok put on. Sadly, shortly afterwards we had to wave goodbye to Oli and Ruth as their cycling adventure came to a close. Congratulations to them for cycling all the way from Bristol to Bangkok!

Our adventure continued with gigs in Bangkok. The first was with a fantastic Thai band called ‘Orbital XX’ in one of the city’s coolest spots – Studio Lam. Orbital XX are a perfect match for us – both with a shared love of smooth electronica, our sounds complimented each other’s perfectly.

Following that we played at a real stalwart of the Bangkok scene – Check Inn 99. Having watched a Thai Beatles’ band the night previous, it was our turn to get up on the stage and play our own brand of electronica. We even got to jam with legendary keyboardist Keith Nolan live on stage which was a real highlight. But as is always the case with us, we suddenly had to leave Bangkok – the most modern and futuristic city we’d seen on this trip – to make sure we could vacate Thailand before our visas ran out.

We hot footed it north towards Laos but not before catching the excellent Paradise Bangkok – a traditional Thai band that almost never play live in their home country. It was a real honour to watch this superb band in full flow to an enchanted crowd on home turf. We crossed the border into Laos not long after and ticked off our 23rd country on this adventure. We had heard great things about Laos and we weren’t to be disappointed.

The next few weeks were magical but boy does the landscape make you work for it. We have to say it’s one of the most stunning countries we’ve ever seen in our lives. It’s hard to say officially but to us, it felt like it was 95 per cent mountain (don’t quote us on this). One mountain after another we climbed, each one different to the last and it was totally worth it.

We were loving Laos so much we didn’t really want to leave and due to a bit of a cock-up with information on e-visas border crossing regulations for entering Vietnam, we had to re-navigate our route, adding on another 500km and a good 8 more mountains to climb. Under different circumstances, a huge detour might have annoyed the hell out of us but on this occasion we were delighted. More Laos please.

After who knows how many climbs we reached Vietnam but it was sad to wave goodbye to Laos. It firmly installed itself in our top 3 countries of the trip so far so for any cycle tourist out there thinking about going, don’t hesitate it’s a truly magical experience.

We crossed into Vietnam with great excitement for two reasons. 1) we had been asked to play a music festival in Hanoi and 2) we couldn’t wait to devour as many Banh Mi’s (a Vietnamese pork sandwich) as we could find. We had recently started to crave sandwiches in a big way and we knew this was the place to get them. There was only one problem – we arrived during the national holiday of Tet so everything was closed. It was a crushing blow. Our wait for the fabled Banh Mi had to wait days until the festival ended but when it did we didn’t hold back and spent the next week as we headed towards Hanoi scoffing on as many sandwiches as we could get our hands on. Great energy food for cycling for anyone thinking of touring Vietnam.

We arrived in Hanoi and were straight in at the deep end playing at a music festival in a beautiful valley owned by world-renowned Vietnamese artist Dao Anh Khanh. A former policeman turned artist visionary he has turned his land into a work of art complete with four, 6 storey tall penis pillars shooting up into the sky. The festival was a real highlight of the trip for us and the organisers became close friends. Our time in Hanoi was very special because of them and staying with them in their treehouse home was truly amazing

We also had a chance to jam with some fantastic musicians in the city, namely Linh Ha, an electronic artist from Vietnam, and take part in a very weird but amazing photoshoot in what can only be described as a bog complete with DIY golfers (only on a cycle touring trip would this kind of thing happen to you) with our new photographer friend Mitchell, which really put the icing on the cake of an incredible stay in Hanoi.

But it was time to leave and sad to leave our new friends behind. We had a flight to catch – Korea and the far east was calling so tune in next month to see what happens next…

Photos by mitchell

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