Friday, October 10, 2014

Cycling around Chau Doc with children

A good thing about the Murray Guesthouse in Chau Doc is that the hotel, next to offering a family room (triple, 43 USD a night, breakfast included - children under 9 stay for free), puts bikes at your disposal, including one in children size.

Hopefully your child is a girl, because an 8-year old boy might not be enthusiastic about riding a pink, 'Hello Kitty" bike. It was perfect for our daughter. One child behind his dad on one adult bike, our youngest girl in the carrier on my back, and off we went, the 5 of us, to travel the 7-km distance to the nearby sacred Sam moutain.

Lise on her "Hello Kitty" bike
A few hundred meters further, we have to stop already: one tire is flat. Thanks to friendly and efficient  Vietnamese repair service, we're ready to start again a quarter later, with a brand-new tire. Tire and service cost us no more than 80000 VND.

Repair service was flawless
The route to Sam mountain is somewhat dull, flat and straight. The road is currently a worksite, large and empty, sometimes smooth, sometimes bumpy, always dusty under the heat. Arrived at the bottom of the hill, we park our bicycle in one of the many private garages, where people will watch over your  bicycles for 10000VND each. You'll easily find motorbike drivers ready to take you to the top of the hill; we opted for a hike up the hill. The ascension is certainly not the most easy one, on a very steep road with little shade, bur eventually, even our 3-year old manage to reach the top. It was well worth it; the views from the top are stunning.

View from the top of Sam mountain
After a well-deserved rest, lying in hammocks and enjoying the views, we set off again for the much easier descend. Halfway down, we stop for another break at Victoria Nui Sam Lodge. It's not that we're addicted to luxury, but the hotel's wonderful lookout on the valley seems the perfect place for a drink and a snack. Quite over our budget, but the view makes it worth.

The restaurant of the Victoria Nui Sam Lodge

Back down, we fetch our bikes to drive around the mountain and visit few of the many pagodas that surround the hill. When we head back to our hotel, it is already late in the afternoon. The children are tired but happy.

Detail of the Tay An pagoda