Taking the Local Bus to the Củ Chi Tunnels

We had seen a lot of offers for tours to the Củ Chi tunnels – our hostel advertised a half-day tour for đ400,000 ($17.23) not including entrance fee to the tunnels. After a lot of research, we figured out the vast majority of the tours go to Bến Đình, the closer of the two Củ Chi Tunnel sites. This is how they are often able to do both a Củ Chi tunnels tour and a trip to the Mekong Delta in one day despite the two sites being in opposite directions. As a result, the closer site is allegedly more touristy and crowded than the second site, Bến Dược. It is also slightly more expensive – đ110,000 ($4.73) vs. đ90,000 ($3.87). Fortunately, we had discovered it was possible to visit Bến Dược on our own using the public buses, which would cost considerably less than a tour, and we could avoid swarms of people. Also, we love taking the local buses when we can. 

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Kicking Off Our Vietnam Tour In Ho Chi Minh City

Our rough plan for Vietnam is to work our way up from the south to the north over the course of twenty six days and cross into China by bus at the Lao Cai border crossing after visiting Sa Pa. Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh City where we planned to stay for five days, mostly so we could apply for a Chinese visa. To get into China, we need to get a visa which takes four days to process once the application has been accepted. Even without Jess’s passport snafu, acquiring the visa in the US ahead of time would have been a bit tricky given our bike trip, and since getting our Bolivian visa in Argentina was relatively straightforward, we figured doing this in Vietnam would be fine. Having a little extra time in Ho Chi Minh City would also give us a better feel for life there.

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So we left Bali and made it to Singapore, a fascinating city/country. It is famous for being a wealthy shoppers paradise (not exactly our scene), but there are plenty of cool cheap-ish things to fill a three-day stay. The first thing to pin down was accommodation, which can be very pricey. We knew a private room was out of the budget, but Jess really did not want to stay in a pod hotel; she thought it was too much like sleeping in a coffin… so we ended up in a kind of unusual dorm room, a queen bunk bed in a dorm to be precise. Privacy amounted to a curtain on the side of your bed, but it was perfect. We had a busy schedule and didn’t do much there but sleep. 7 Wonders ended up being a clean and comfortable launchpad to go out and explore.

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36 Hours in Ubud, Bali

Ubud is roughly 23 miles from Kuta but it took us almost two hours to get there because of traffic. The streets in Bali are clogged with cars and mopeds and it can take quite a long time to get anywhere. There is virtually no public transportation because everyone has a moped. In fact, Bali experimented with a public bus, but when nobody used it, they cancelled the service. The taxi ride was only 260,000 IDR ($18.20) which felt like a really good deal compared to the 20-minute taxi ride from the airport for which we paid 150,000 ($10.50). When we arrived in Ubud, the taxi driver dropped us off roughly half a mile from our hotel because of the network of one way streets and we walked up to the hotel.

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Relaxing in Kuta, Bali

Since Bali was added to our itinerary mostly because of the weather and the cheap flights, we had opted to only spend five days there. Since we’re not really beach people, we though more than three days at the beach might be overkill, so we split our stay into three days in Kuta where we could go to the beach, surf, and relax and two days in Ubud further north to see temples and rice fields. We’re really glad we did; these two areas of Bali were pretty different even though they had similar cultural feel.

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Here We Go – Phase 3!

We are heading to Asia, Australia and New Zealand for Phase 3. As with Phase 1 we want to follow summer and ideally with the same rules about not backtracking. Unfortunately since so many of our desired destinations (Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia) require flying, this turns out to be more challenging. South East Asia also has monsoon and very hot seasons we want to avoid as much as possible.

When it came to actually booking flights, we knew we would be leaving the US on roughly August 15th, so we looked up “best places to visit in Asia in August”. Our search returned Bali and Singapore, so we made those our first destinations. Bali won the honor of being first because we were able to book flights there from Rochester, MN, using Delta points for only $14.20 per ticket. To go all the way to Asia!!

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Week 8: Bicycling Clam Lake, WI to Onamia, MN

  1. Total distance: 382.7 miles (slightly more than a week)

Day 50 – 64.1 miles – Clam Lake, WI to Edgewater, WI

Since our campsite was buggy, we went back out to the town and found a picnic table there to make breakfast. While we were cooking two cyclists stopped to chat with us. They were doing a shorter ride heading back the direction we had come. We swapped tips and stories for over an hour before deciding we all better get on our bikes.

Clam Lake is Wisconsin’s elk capital of the world. Shortly after leaving Clam Lake we saw a series of elk-crossing warning systems that would flash if elk were near by. We never saw an elk but we saw lots of flashing lights.

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