CHRIS AND GABS’ NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER

 

Chris and Gabs provide their latest update on their World Cycling Tour in aid of Prevent Breast Cancer. In November, they’ve reached Vietnam! 

 

Vietnam

 

Author: Gabs – November 2019

Cycling for… 521 days
Through… 25 countries
Currently… in Vietnam
Raising so far… £10,500

 

CLICK HERE to see a recent Chris & Gabs’ videos

 

This month we’ve visited Taiwan, China and Vietnam

 

We went across on the ferry from Xiamen in China and decided to cycle a loop of Taiwan. In Taiwan we started in Taichung, a very busy city then went into the mountains to Sun Moon Lake and the Taroko National Park over to the east side where we cycled up the coast to the capital Taipei. Here we got invited to a bicycle factory that specialised in handmaking carbon fibre parts that make up the frame of a bicycle. This was so interesting to watch, as it fascinated me to see where and how my bicycle is made. From Taiwan we went back to the mainland to Hong Kong. Here it was a very interesting time as there was a lot of unrest with the people and continuing riots which we saw daily. After spending about two months in China we now have continued our journey into the mountains through Youyiguan to cross the border into Dong Dang in Vietnam. With Vietnam’s limestone mountains and steep valleys that are cloaked in bamboo forests, this is a whole different experience from where we have been in China. Something we feel each time we cross a new border, is that just within a mile of a new country you notice how different the people are, and also the culture, the scenery and the different vibes you get from your surroundings. The most beautiful area has been… Taroko Gorge, Taiwan, sometimes called the Taiwanese Grand Canyon. It is the country’s premier scenic attraction. Created by the continual rising of the mountains combined with the erosive power of the Liwu River, Taroko Gorge with its tall, almost flat walls are a true marvel to view. Taroko Gorge is an impressive 19km long canyon.
 
Vietnam scenic

 

The most bizarre experiences this month en route to Vietnam

 

Our last town in China! The local delicacy was maggots and they were on show at all the food places. At first I thought it was a beehive but then I noticed things wiggling around, and then the girl at the restaurant got some tweezers and started to pick out the maggots one at a time and put them into a bowl. When she had a bowlful, they were then cooked and served to the table next to us. No, we did not order any!!!
 
Maggots

 

The most challenging part has been

 
After a year and a half on the road and living from our bicycles, it now has become a way of life and the challenges we faced at the very beginning we have now become accustomed too. We are used to the heavyweight of our luggage; the slow pace we cycle because of the weight, and the long day in the saddle, only achieving forty to fifty miles. This once was a mental challenge but now it is the norm and we just get on with it. Border crossings are somewhat of a challenge, as each country has their own rules and ways of doing things, so you never know what to expect. China has definitely been the most long drawn out border crossings. Even when we were leaving China to go into Vietnam, we had to take all our bags off the bicycles and have everything scanned, and this happened twice. Then they take your passport and look at every page repeatedly. They don’t even understand what they are looking at in your passport. It is all an experience and you just must be patient, friendly and remain calm. They are only doing their jobs and only do things in the way they are trained and know how to do.

 

A special highlight this month has been…

 

Cycling from Nanning to Vietnam and watching the scenery change into limestone mountains with its lush green countryside and coming across small villages where the process of wood panels is being produced. This was so interesting to see the process for ourselves. From the very beginning of the trees being cut down, and then seeing the people work with basic tools and watching them do everything by hand, with no special machinery or fancy robots to help them with the process. It is hard to believe that these products will then be sold in our fancy hardware stores for our modern, stylish living, and the people here working in the fields morning till night, young, old, male and female, living in their huts, living a very simple life are none the wiser to what happens to their products and what they are made into in the modern world. I stood in amazement watching one lady in a field surrounded by thousands of what looked like wood broom handles. She works there all day stacking them so they can dry out. She was so strong; I couldn’t even lift one bundle of wood never mind constantly doing this morning till night. We even spent time at a medicine farm where they grew certain crops for herbal medicines that they sell to pharmaceutical companies. It is so interesting and hard to believe that the things we take for granted in our shops are produced over the other side of the world in these remote villages in the mountains.
 
Wood in Vietnam

 

After Vietnam, we are heading to Cambodia

 
We will be cycling all the way down the coast of Vietnam from Hanoi into Cambodia to Siem Reap Northwestern Cambodia, which is the gateway to the ruins of Angkor Wat. Then across to Thailand into Bangkok and straight down the east coast heading into Malaysia visiting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, making our way to Indonesia, Bali and Papa New Guinea. This December we will still be in Vietnam and spending Christmas in Hoi An, the ancient town on the central coast.
 

Thoughts and feelings

 

This will be our second Christmas away from family and friends. It always gets a bit emotional at this time of year, but we are still going strong. It makes it all the more worthwhile when we still get stopped in the street and people are interested in our story and our charity Prevent Breast Cancer, especially when they then kindly donate. We have had great support from Snodland Council this year organising fundraisers for us which we are very thankful. It is such a boost to see our fundraising amount go up – it really motivates us to keep on going. Thank you to all our supporters.
 

A special  Vietnam meeting

 

Here in Hanoi we had lunch with a family from the Czech Republic. We met with the youngest touring cyclist, Veronica, age three and she had just got her first bicycle and learnt to ride it whilst here in Vietnam. Veronica, plus her mum and dad have been on the road for six months and will continue for another six months. Veronica sits on the back of her mum’s bicycle, but when they are in the country and on quiet roads, she rides her bicycle for a couple of kilometres. Her poor dad then must carry her bicycle on his when she is not cycling.

 

Veronica

 

Chris and I would like to wish all our amazing supporters and all the wonderful people at Prevent Breast Cancer an extra special Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from a very sunny Vietnam.

 

Family in vietnam
 
Remember you can watch all Chris’ wonderful films he has made about our adventures on our website.

 

Read last month’s newsletter here.

To donate, click here.

Chris and Gabs

Chris O’Hare and Gabriella Gratrix are no strangers to a challenge, but this year will see them face the biggest challenge of all, as they set off to cycle around the world for Prevent Breast Cancer. This epic journey will see them cycle over 100,000 km across 7 continents, and will take around 7 years. If just reading those figures leaves you breathless, pencil in the fact that many areas won’t have roads, and some mountain passes are almost impassable, even harder given the fact that their bikes will weigh over 55kg when loaded with kit! Now, that’s some going!