Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 5 - Nha Trang

Had a text off Dad this morning.They are now at Nha Trang and staying in the Asia Paradise Hotel ... normally when  see a hotel called Paradise it's far from it! However having checked this one out it looks pretty posh to me, swimming pools and close to the sea ! However on the downside it's next to the airport so it may be a bit noisy.

They've been in the mountains all day and cycling through the Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park. They've cycled around 100 kms today and only had one and half hours on the bus. Dad will be happy about that.  Looks like it was a 30 km descent from Dalat at 1500 metres which took them best part of an hour. There would have been no pedalling from me and I'd have had the brakes on the bike ALL the way down.

The bay at Nha Trang is considered to be one of the most beautiful bays in the world so hopefully he's got a few photos. Saying that Dad hasn't really moved on into the digital age and he's taken two disposable cameras with him.

Details of the itinerary from Exodus

Day 5 (Day 6 Ex London) Dalat to Nha Trang through Bidoup N.P.

Today's ride is predominantly downhill through pine forests and
paddy fields as we descend nearly 1,500m travelling through the
Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park. This area is home to rare pine forests
as well as small villages inhabited by the ethnic minority people of
the central highlands. Once we arrive at the coast, we head by bus
(approx 1.5 hours) to Nha Trang. This beachside town is idyllic, with
swaying palms, golden sands and the beautiful deep blue water of the South China Sea. Ride up to 100km according to preference.

LEJOG and raising funds for a good cause

Two years ago Dad's friends Pete and Uni had a horrific car crash.  In fact Dad was heading into the Lake District the day of the crash to visit them but instead of visiting them at home, he headed to the hospital.  Well to cut a long story short, Pete and Uni have made a remarkable recovery. Pete's life was undoubtedly saved by the air ambulance and his grandson Jacob is cycling LEJOG in order to raise funds.

So if you have a few quid spare and would like to donate to a worthy cause Jacob's justgiving page can be found

Hopefully my Dad will be making a "guest appearance" on the ride and so will Pete.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 4 - Dalat

Dad had a early start this morning. Up at 6.00 am and away by 7.00 ... so I doubt there was time for an early morning swim in that posh hotel !

Today they've had four hours on the bus and cycled around 80 km and a bit of a hilly ride. They stopped off for lunch at Di Linh .

They are now in Dalat  which is 1500 metres above sea level! I wonder if they had to cycle up to it or the bus took them. Reading up about Dalat it looks it might be a bit cooler which will suit Dad. The area is well known from it's flowers and confectionery - sounds like a girls dream. 

Tonight Dad is staying in Dalat du Parc Hotel which according to Dad isn't as posh as the last hotel. It looks pretty posh to me !

Received another photo of Dad today this time from Damien. Looks like Dad is admiring the view and what a great view !

Today's itinerary from Exodus.

Day 4 (Day 5 Ex London) Cycle to Dalat

We cycle towards Dalat; the route is undulating with occasional
climbs. Along the Way we pass coffee and tea plantations as well
as flower gardens and pine forests as we reach higher altitude. We
rejoin the bus before the road climbs steeply to the mountain town
of Dalat. We spend approx 3.5 hours on the bus today. Dalat is a
pleasant hill station, formerly known as Le Petit Parisl and has been
described as the most beautiful town in Vietnam. lt was favoured by
the French for its climate` and is now a popular honeymoon resort for the Vietnamese. Ride approx. 60 km.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 3 - heading to Mui Ne

Had a text off Dad this morning. There are 11 people in his group, four females and seven males and all younger than Dad (I don't suppose there are many 78 year olds doing this type of trip!). Dad reckons the average age is around 30. Just one couple on the trip and two brothers. Dad is sharing a room with another bloke.

Received this group photo earlier today (thanks to Naomi!)

Cu Chi war cemetery

Today they've cycled around 50 kms and spent 3 hours on the bus ! They are now at the coast at staying at Sea Links Beach Hotel in Mui Ne. Apparently it has FOUR swimming pools ... if Dad wears his "usual" trunks he'll be in one of those on his own !  Just looked the hotel up and all I can say is "Wow" ! A bit posher than his usual standard !

Below is an extract from the Exodus itinerary.

Day 3 (Day 4 Ex London) Saigon to Mui Ne

After an early breakfast we head out of Saigon by bus and start our
cycling _towards Mui Ne on the coast. We spend approx 4-5 hours on
the bus today. We hit the backròads and head through tropical fruit
and rubber plantations. also passing some small fishing villages as
we make our way closer to the coast. We finish the ride in Mui Ne, a
tranquil white sand beach where we can enjoy a swim after the day's
riding and witness our first sunset over the South China Sea. Ride
approx. 50 km. 


Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 2 - Cu Chi Tunnels

Got a very brief text off Dad early this morning to say they'd cycled 20 miles to the Cu Chi tunnels. It was followed up a few hours later by another to say, sorry for the short text I was on the bus! To me an ideal opportunity to be texting. 

The Cu Chi tunnels  are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located under part of Siagon.  My Dad did say I'd of hated them. Very small and loads of bats! My worst nightmare. 

Found a photo on Wikipedia of the tunnels.

Cu Chi Tunnels - Niels Aage

Weather is hot at 30 degrees. I text him back to say it's very cold here!

Below is the itinerary for the day from Exodus which gives a bit more detail than Dad's 140 character text.

Day 2 (Day 3 Ex London) Ride to Cu Chi Tunnels

This morning we drive out of the city, before riding to the Cu Chi
Tunnels. This offers a great introduction to cycling in Vietnam and a
chance to fine tune the bikes. The tunnels were Vietcong sanctuaries,
used by the guerrillas as living quarters and escape routes, the
network covers 3 levels and approximately 240 kms of tunnels.
Although originally very narrow, some parts have been widened for
tourists, but even so it is still necessary to crawl on hands and knees.
Claustrophobes may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine! lf you
prefer not to visit the tunnels you can have an unguided free day in
Saigon. Places of interest include: the Emperor of Jade and Giac Lam
pagodas, the former Presidential Palace (now the Reunificatíon Hall),
Ben Thanh market and the War Remnants Museum. Ride approx. 35

Sunday, February 24, 2013

He's arrived !

Got a text off Dad this morning at 6.00 am - thankfully phone was downstairs so it didn't wake me ! He's arrived after a 12 hour journey (or as Dad text "jerny"). He did manage to get some sleep on the way though. Dad has got his luggage but some in the party haven't but apparently that not unusual ! I wonder if Dad will be dishing out his smalls :)

They are staying in a hotel called Huong Sen in Ho Chi Minh City (or Siagon) which Dad says is great. Just looked it up on Trip Advisor and it looks pretty decent. He was off for a kip now.

Hopefully get and update later but this trip we are limited to texts only and Dad is the SLOWEST texter EVER ! It's good to know his Asda mobile works though. Hotel has free internet but Dad's basic phone doesn't have the capability. It would have been cheaper though.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

and so the journey begins ...

I dropped Dad off at Hanley bus station in the small hours of this morning. I had thought there would been more people (when I say people I mean drunken idiots) about at that time on a Saturday morning but there were just two other people waiting for the bus. I hung around with Dad until the coach came, waved him off and then I hurried back home to get in bed.

The coach was due in Birmingham at 2.40 and then he'd got a couple of hours wait until his next bus at 5.00. However there was a bus to Heathrow at 3.00 am. Dad asked if he could hop on that - no problem. It was a brand new coach with just four people on it, so Dad had virtually the pick of the seats!  He arrived in Heathrow around 5.00 but this coach was dropping off at Central rather than terminal 4. Dad found the free shuttle bus and made his way to terminal 4. He'd still got a few hours to kill but at least he was at the airport.

Breakfast and the papers killed an a hour or so. Fully monty and coffee £15.00 !!!! Dad is used to paying a fiver at Audlem bikers cafe, so I bet them came as a shock when he had to dig out another £10. He did say next time he'd nip Audlem for breakfast before he left.

His bag has gone through and he'd got himself a coffee. Dad is not used to these "fancy" coffee places with a choice of coffee and ended up with an Expresso, so had to re-order to get a decent cup of coffee.

When I spoke to him at 9.00 am he was just waiting for the gate to open.  Flight is due to leave at 10.50, so hopefully I'll be able to track that later so I'll know he's arrived in Vietnam.

Edited at 11.30 am ... I checked the status of the flight and it says "airborne" so he's definitely on his way now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's hours not days now ...

Well it's just over 36 hours til Dad leaves home for Vietnam. He's got a bit of journey before he leaves the UK via Heathrow. First there is a taxi from home into town to catch the National Express at some small hour of the morning when most people (ie me!) will be tucked up snuggly in bed! Told Dad to go and find out today where he needs to catch the coach, seeing they are currently in the process of "moving" the bus station! Dad then has a few hours wait in Birmingham coach station before the onwards journey down to Heathrow. I just hope he doesn't nod off and miss the connecting coach !

He then has a few hours wait at Heathrow and time for breakfast before he flies out on Saturday morning to Kuala Lumpur. It's then onwards to Ho Chi Minh City where he arrives on Sunday morning (local time).

Hopefully he'll not lose his mobile phone on this trip ! I've had to go and get myself a new sim for an old mobile phone seeing Dad has somehow "blocked" my current mobile number and none of my texts are getting through! He can still text me, but as he's not got a message from me in his inbox to just "reply" to, he's struggling a bit even do that !So for the next month I'll be wandering around with TWO mobile phones (I'll be needing a bigger handbag !).

Will update the blog as and when I hear from him but I've got his itinerary so hopefully I'll be able to keep you up-to-date where he is and highlights for that day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

He's off again - this time Vietnam

Sorry for the lack of blogs ... I have had a rubbish few months and not had time to blog but hopefully we've turned a corner. I could write you epic blogs on hospitals, dementia, social services, care homes, funding (or more like "funding yourself") etc, etc but I won't bore you with all that!

Anyway Dad is off on his travels soon ... in fact towards the end of this month. This time he's off to Vietnam for a month on a biking holiday. He's not taking his own bike this time as the trip he is doing provides you with a bike. However he is taking his saddle and pedals. Apparently your saddle is like your most comfy pair shoes and moulded to fit !

As he's not got to maul his bike he's taking the National Express from the local bus station down to Heathrow and he flies out 23rd February and returns on 23rd March. The biking trip he's doing is only two weeks but he'll be "doing his own thing" for the other two weeks. Not sure how far he'll get with just a saddle and a set of pedals! So if you are free and fancy a biking holiday in Vietnam or in Vietnam during that time give us a shout.

He's currently reading up on Vietnam so any useful information on things to do, see or where to avoid would be greatly appreciated.

Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of blogging again and keep you posted on his travels.