This Đạp&Đạp chapter is a continuation of our home-coming journey to the Mekong Delta, where we stopped by the reposeful Phu Ly pagoda, and reached Can Tho where we boarded the Bassac that takes us cruising along the Hau River.
Last we spoke, we were eating watermelon at our pitstop after a couple of hours of riding around Vinh Long. We had continued pedaling southward to Can Tho. And we opted, again, for the tree-covered backroads to avoid traffic and the straining summer sun.
We found ourselves following the twisty canals lined with banana trees. It is easy to overlook the dense network of waterways that makes up the alluvial delta when speeding on the highways in the comfort of cars. Riding the back roads and sweating up the many bridges, it is as though we were tracing the contours of the region.
Many of the roads we took were no larger than the width of our bike. As we rolled through the bumpy tarmac, our consciousness took notice of overgrown trees, then shifted to the narrowing road, and quickly shifted back to the humid air that kept our lungs full. Immersed in the chaotic scene, the sensory experience proved memorable.
In theory, interesting things happen to our brains as we ride. We experience something called an optic flow - the motion pattern created by our eyes when we move through space. As we engage in an optic flow, the neural circuitry associated with stress is silenced. Perhaps this physiological phenomenon explained the euphoric feelings we had. But we didn’t need theories to understand we felt a deep connection with our experience.
We reached the Phù Ly Khmer Pagoda after cruising for an hour or so. The pagoda stood in the middle of hundreds of ancient Sao trees. A beautiful and tranquil pitstop.
Leaving Phù Ly, we headed for the National Route 1 with the Can Tho bridge as the fastest way to the Hau river. It was another half-hour or so on the saddle. We reached Can Tho just on time to board the Bassac Cruise at the Ninh Kieu pier around lunchtime.
We cruised along the Hau river as we enjoyed our well-deserved meal, excited for more adventure in the afternoon while enjoying the very experience of being on a boat. The Bassac Cruise is an all-inclusive experience, where passengers are transported into the idyllic heart of the Delta on a classic wooden boat. Mr Benoit Perdu - the owner of the Bassac - took a no-compromise approach and personally designed the boat’s smallest details, from its trademark wooden hulls to the cozy sleeping cabins - as a tribute to the lands and rivers that he fell in love with. After twenty years, the Bassac remains one of the last few wooden boats that still cruise on the Delta’s waterways. The Bassac allowed us to experience our all-too-familiar hometown with completely new eyes. It was not just a refreshing experience, it was also a reminder of our heritage.
There is something very soothing about slowing down to the pace of the river and just observing the passing treeline from the front deck. Maybe because it is a completely opposite state of being compared to that of the hectic city life. Or maybe we just are intrinsically wired to enjoy nature’s simplest pleasures. Both are true. None of the reasons matter.
As part of the Bassac Discover Cruise’s itinerary, we headed out for our afternoon excursion on a small islet of fruit orchards. Our bikes were well taken care of.
We spent the rest of the afternoon just cruising around with no destination or purpose. It was a bonus that we didn’t really have to think about where we were going because the islet only has a single paved road going around the island making it impossible to get lost. We soaked in the tranquility of the peaceful delta’s countryside with every pedal stroke. We headed back to Saigon the next day. The Monday hustle was dawning on us as we caught ourselves already fantasizing about the next ride in the countryside.
'Rides in Nature is a series produced by Đạp&Đạp. Đạp&Đạp comprises creatives and professionals as well as full-time athletes like Sang. We come together to share our love for cycling and nature immersion. We are always looking for like-minded collaborators to ride with us. This chapter was supported by Bassac River Retreat.
Interested in collaborating? Reach out to us at email@example.com.