As this is my first Exodus holiday I wanted to touch base with anyone doing this event prior to travelling and hopefully break the ice a little before meeting in Vietnam. Hope to hear back from someone soon.
Hi Ali, I am thinking of doing this trip but am a little worried about being the only 'singley'. Have emailed exodus and they say there are several individuals booked on though - are you travelling on your own or with a friend?
Have done one exodus trip before - to Peru in 2006; had a fantastic time!!!
Hi, I've taken the bit between my teeth and just gone for it. My first ever single person holiday, booked and travelling alone but thinking positively - if you book on this holiday you have something in common with everyone - cycling - go for it, you only live once. Let me know who you are if you decide to book and I will make a point of introducing myself. Regards. Ali
Have decided to call tomorrow and book the trip! Very excited already - and still 3 months to go! On a quest to find some decent padded shorts now! Better convert my gym routine to include some more cycling too!
Look forward to meeting you Ali...
Great news Lorna - glad to hear you've decided to go ahead and book. I didn't even think about being the only single on the trip, just really wanted to go up the coast of Vietnam since Jeremy Clarkson did it on a scooter. Finally plucked up courage and am now really looking forward to it. Bought some sunscreen and mosi repellant last week and now need to check with docs that I'm still covered and don't need any more needles sticking in me which I hate. When I cycled in Wales last year I wore a padded base layer as well as padded shorts on the second day as I was a little uncomfy - bum looked huge but was nice to have the extra layer. Take care and will try and remember to log on and keep in touch.
Hi Ali, yep I'm glad I took the plunge - really looking forward to it now! Think I need to take a trip to the doc's and get my typhoid jab, thankfully all the others are still current as I'm not a huge fan of needles either!
Discovered a colleague of mine did the same trip a few years ago - she says it was the best holiday she's ever had. She recommended taking sudocrem for the saddle rash - apparently everyone suffered!
Someone else I work with has now decided to take the same trip on 27th March - she got the final spot and apparently there was some difficulty getting her a bike the right size; not too sure what she's going to end up with but think they have got her something 'nearly' the right size :)
Have taken to building more cycling in to the usual routine at the gym - was a bit sore after 30 mins the other day! Working on the basis that gym bike saddles really are NOTHING like the real thing though - will take to riding my mountain bike once this snow has cleared up.
Have a great Christmas.
Hope you had a good Christmas. Glad to hear your friend from work is joining you. Does she live close enough to for you to travel together? I'm based in West Yorkshire near Leeds but as there are no flights to London from Leeds Bradford at the moment, Ian of Exodus is trying to find me a flight from Manchester down to London but hasn't managed to sort yet. Hopefully he will come back to me soon. Whilst writing this, just thought about visa requirements and if there are any - now going to check. Catch up soon and hope you have a great New Year.
Hi Ali, had a great Chrismas thanks, hope you did too?!
Sounds a pain having to fly from Manchester rather than Leeds, sure Exodus will do a good job for you though in sorting it out. When I went to Peru with them, they were really helpful and efficient at sorting out extensions, extra flights etc! I am lucky and only live 30 minutes by road from Heathrow so will simply jump in a cab - imagine Sarah will leave her car at mine and share the journey with me. Let us know when you know your arrival time at LHR and we can meet up for breakfast or a coffee if you want?
Have been looking at visa's and looks like it takes about 2 weeks to get one. Download the form from the internet, and then send with passport, photo's and fees to the embassy. I need to wait until beginning of Feb to do mine as am off to Dubrovnik for a few days at the end of Jan! Been looking into jabs as well, just need to get typhoid, but the GP is quoting £50! Might try the travel clinic....
Had a shopping spree on Monday and bought a couple of pairs of really decent cycling shorts, couple of sports vests, pair of gloves and cycling helmet! Need to get couple more pairs of shorts yet (or at least padded undershorts), as think probably need 3 or 4 for the trip, rather than just the 2 I have at present!
Have been checking out youtube for vids of people who have done similar trips - getting very excited now!
Happy New Year for now!!!
Well things are moving along. I've had to book a flight down the night before to ensure I don't get delayed on the Saturday morning. Ian recommended it as its safer that way. Just need to find a hotel near airport but Ian sent a link with lots on. Will have a look and book somewhere nice. Most hotels do shuttles to the airport for £4 so will have easy access. I can either have breakfast in hotel and meet you for coffee or grab something at the airport if you are having breakfast there. If not I'll meet you for coffee. I've sorted holiday insurance and have visa application ready to send on Saturday when I can get to post office to send recorded delivery. Just need to contact docs to sort injections oh and I need to lose a stone before we go. Getting excited now.
Hi, Ali, and Lorna!
My wife, Susan, and I are also retracing the Clarkston trip! Getting into training now and as soon as the ice goes, we'll be out on our bikes, we hope!
We are flying down from Glasgow and overnighting near Heathrow. Have you got any recommendations for a nearby hotel yet?
This is our first cycling trip but we "did" Peru 3 years ago and loved the experience and the Inca Trail so are looking forward to the culture and the food in Vietnam.
Hi Ali, Boyd & Susan
So including my friend Sarah, that's now 5 of us - just another 10 to find!
I don't know much about hotels around Heathrow but sounds like Ali has a list that will be helpful. Sarah and I are definitely going to have breakfast at the airport after checking in (set us up for the long flight!), so if you want to join us you'd all be more than welcome!
Can meet before or after check-in, whatever suits........?
I am getting down the gym lots and including more cycling than normal, but not convinced the static bike is the same as the 'real thing'. Evans called to say my helmet has arrived though, so that's progress and I think I have all the gear I need.
Boyd and Susan, I too did a trip to Peru (with exodus) back in 2006 - the Royal Inca Highway, plus a weeks extension in the Amazon near Iquitos - had a fantastic time! If that trip is anything to go by, sure we'll have a brilliant time in Vietnam too.
Looks like the "group" is developing nicely!!
Booked our flights down to London today and got a good deal on a night in the Hilton in Terminal 4 which is where I think we fly from.
Looking forward to comparing notes on Peru too!
Glad to see we've acquired another two people to chat to prior to setting off. Lorna, I'll probably come and have breakfast with you and Sarah at the airport but will confirm once I've booked my hotel. Boyd and Susan, glad to hear you are sorted. I looked on the internet a couple of weeks ago and Malaysia Airlines do fly from terminal 4. I'll be flying down from Manchester on the Friday but have not booked hotel as yet. Thought about the Sheraton but there are lots close by running shuttles. Really nice to get to email people beforehand especially as I am travelling alone. It's now making me look forward to the trip even more. As I don't do the gym, I bought myself "Your Shape" for the Wii - think its still trying to decipher what shape I actually am but at least I'm making an effort to get a little fitter. See you all pretty soon.
If you have yet to apply for your Visas, I can recommend Travcour. Very slick service with regular Emails updating on progress from receipt to posting back to you. I sent ours 6th Jan and got them back in 11 days. Very pretty Visa too!
Ali, Susan, Boyd...
Hi all - trip getting ever closer, will be here before we know it! Already looking forward to that rush of heat as we step off the plane in Saigon after the past few weeks of cold, cold, cold!
Sarah and I have been debating the need for malaria pills. Seems if you talk to your GP they just take the stance that you need malaria pills for anywhere in Asia, but having done quite a lot of research on the internet, I can't find anywhere that says we are going into a malaria risk area - all maps I have looked on show the malaria risk as further inland than where we will be. I want to avoid having to take pills if at all possible having previously had a nasty reaction to malarone when in the Amazon (felt slightly giddy all the time, which won't be good on a bike and came out in a chicken pox like rash up the back of my legs which would also be slightly uncomfortable on a bike)- but of course, don't particularly want to get malaria either! Will definitely buy a Deet 100 spray as a precaution but was wondering what decision(s) you people have made about malaria pills?
Decisions, decisions, decisions! Did 20 miles on the bike in the gym last weekend, and after having significant chafing and a sore backside for 2 days, have now decided to buy a gel saddle cover for the trip!
Hi! Re the Malaria prophylaxis, I was going to go for malarone on the advice of a colleague of mine ( I am a hospital consultant) who spends all his holiday time in Cambodia. He says it is simple to take and has had no probs with it. I have heard though that some people don't like it because of the side effects.
We are going to see the GP's Practice nurse in the next week or 2 so I guess we need to do our research before then so we know what to ask for!
On the subject of bums and sore bits, Wiggle.co.uk do a preparation called DZ Nuts which I have used for longer cycle runs - it gives one a nice "warm" feeling especially after a long time in the saddle. Susan got a big gel saddle from Santa last Christmas - yet to get it on her bike to see if it puts a smile on her face!!
Hi Lorna, Sarah, Boyd & Susan
Will anyone else log on and make contact before we fly? Re Malaria, I'm booked into the travel clinic this coming Friday so will have more information then as to what the nurse advises. Boyd, thanks for the visa recommendation but I've done mine myself, a friend went out to Cambodia and Vietnam a couple of months ago and had no problems sorting her own so thought I would be brave and try myself. Not heard anything yet but not too worried at the moment.
Am I the only one not considering a gel seat? I was planning on taking my own saddle and I try to get out on my bike at least once a week at this time of year so I'm hoping my posterior is leathery enough to cope. My cycling consists of mountain biking for a couple of hours at a time, no breaks so hoping that the daily cycles will be broken up with sightseeing etc. With Lorna's comments about 30 mins on a bike in the gym, think I must try harder as I do not frequent a gym. I must make more effort to use my Wii "Your Shape" programme, just need to keep my curtains closed to the neighbours can't laugh at me.
Oh, Boyd, Susan
I'm booked into the Hilton at T4 on Friday night, need to check flight times and if I have time am planning on using the pool and chilling out. Might bump into you on the evening. If you see a strange woman looking lonely, it will probably be me!!!
Breakfast is included at the hotel but I will look forward to meeting you both for a coffee at the airport. No doubt we will all touch base a few times before flying and we can compare training and toughness of rear end :-)
Hi, Ali. Do let me know what the Travel Clinic recommend - I am still undecided. And yes - Susan has a BIG Gel seat she is bringing along.
Our flight gets in to Terminal 5 at 6.45pm so we might make the pool too - will look out for you!
It would be interesting to know who else is coming in our group - I guess they are all booked up by now and have had the email about the forum......we'll find out in due course.
Look forward to hearing your advice re malaria.
Am still undecided about the malaria situation but am veering towards giving the meds a miss - found a good map, which clearly shows malaria zones. Go to http://www.traveldoctor.eu/trip/result.1.154.1.html and scroll down to the map at the bottom. You can zoom in to get a good view of where there is and isn't malaria and it looks like we're ok - wouldn't blame people for being cautious though, if it weren't for my previous side effects I would probably just take the tablets are not worry!
Not sorted visa yet - am off to Dubrovnik for a few days at the weekend so it needs to wait until we're back. Sarah and I both work for the Army and have been debating whether that's likely to freak out the visa people...might use Travcour just in case!
Ali, made me laugh about the wii and the curtains! Am well aware of that exact thing when doing the 'hula hoop' on wii fit!
Your talk of the pool at the Hilton is making me jealous - it's almost like you're all having a whole 'other' holiday :)
Just a quick hello to everyone in the loop. This is my second Exodus trip, did "Cycle Cuba" last year and enjoyed it. I also am flying down from Scotland ( Edinburgh airport much nicer than Glasgow!!!) Looking forward to the Sun.
I will be bringing my Brooks leather saddle and cleat pedals with me. I have been through various gel and padded saddles and found they made me sweat and chaff. Leather saddles , although take a long time to break in, I find to be the most comfortable. If new to cycling I would bring some Sudocrem or Bodyglide (less messy) or Vaseline preferably with an anti bacterial agent. This would deal with any chaffing.
If it is hot then only wear your shorts for one day then wash them. I will bring three pairs.
I find that I must wear cycling mits as I am prone to White finger on longer rides.
On the Cuban trip our back - up crew were great nothing was a problem. They did the hydration stops where they provided bottled water / orange juce, fresh fruit, nuts and cake.
Some people brought chocolate bars and biscuits with them as these were not available there.
Hope this is of some help
Welcome to the group already emailing Allister, please feel free to join in and take the mick as much as you like (well out of me anyway!). Nice to have yet another person on board. I can see a huge coffee meet at the airport happening. When are you flying down from Edinburgh? As Lorna said, any tips from Cuba would be greatly appreciated, especially as far as gel seat cover recommendations, rash cream etc :-) After initial apprehension about whether or not to book this holiday I'm now really looking forward to it - thanks everyone.
Hi, Allister - another Scot in the group. We are in Ayr otherwise we would use Edinburgh too! Lived there 74-86 so will do a catch up on the City!
Hadn't thoght about cleats cos my cycling shoes are not great for walking - I do have a set of the Mountain bike ones but the shoes for them pinch a little, so just ordinary walking shoes for me this time.
And on the subject of Nappy rash, as I mentioned to the girls, Wiggle do stuff called DZnuts - a nice warm glow it gives one - but perhaps that's a guy-thing!!
Looking forward to getting to know everyone.....have you all checked out the Exodus video clip on youtube?
Well, I went to the travel clinic and ended up needing two injections, Hep B and Typhoid as they had run out. With regard Malaria advice, as we are going up the coast and not in land I was told it wasn't necessary. Apparently neither Saigon nor Hanoi are malaria risk areas which is great. They did however advise to spray in hotel rooms on an evening just in case or to take plug ins. Hope this goes some way towards helping you with your decision Lorna. I'm beginning to get excited about this hol and can't wait to meet you all.
May I suggest that a sleeping bag liner is a good idea for the train.
When cycling in India we took an overnight train and had to use one as the train was really quite dirty (even in first class) and very overcrowded. It will ensure that your skin is not exposed during the night. I think that Exodus recommends one.
Thought I would keep you up to date as Lorna is on holiday. I have had my jabs and am just about to send off for my Visa. Really looking forward to this trip as it has been a while since I visited Asia. I did some backpacking a few years ago and knew I wanted to go back again. Cant believe it is only 7 weeks this coming Saturday.
Ali, glad to hear the advice you were given about the malaria pills - that's made my mind up completely now...will just make sure I get some deet for the room and my legs!
Allister, good call about the sleeping bag liner - on my list!
Sarah, back from Dubrovnik - dreading work Monday!
Now must pull finger out and sort visa......verrrrry excited!!!
Well I've finally given in and joined a gym for 2 months prior to my trip and I'm booked in tonight for them to sort me a training programme. The saddle on the bike at the gym is completely different to my saddle being huge and uncomfortable, it may be a benefit by toughening up my rear end even more though!!!! 7 weeks today I fly down to London and I'm sure the weeks will pass by quickly. My visa has arrived today so I'm really happy. Allister, thanks for the sleeping bag liner advice, its on my list of things to pack now. Lorna, hope you enjoyed Dubrovnik and Sarah, great to see you put a message on here too. Boyd/Susan, are you managing to get out on your bikes at all. I'm struggling at the moment and am now busy for the next two weekends so can't fit any cycling in although one of the weekends is a walking weekend so at least I'm getting some exercise. Oh boy - getting giddy now, it will be here before we know it. Take care all and see you soon.
Only 7 weeks??!! AARRGH.
Well done joining the gym! At least you can go there whatever the weather! Susan and I have been doing a Spin class once a week till the weather perks up in addition to our usual Step, Pump and Body Balance. Don't worry - we are not superfit Gym Junkies!! If you are getting a program planned out though, I would recommend some triceps toning stuff - I found in the past that these muscles can take a beating on a long ride and a little extra strength here can help - these are the muscles that keep your face off the handlebars when you are knackered!!
We have our appointments at the GP's Travel clinic this week so we will relay back the advice from there. I just hope it agrees with you guys' advice so far - Don't want to confuse things with conflicting advice at this stage!
Also - I think we all got an email this week from Aurelija - I emailed her back to ask about seat booking - she is able to book seats in the longhaul flights now so if you have any preference, give her a call - I managed to get some seats with space in front on the way out. Last long flights we did to Peru and back, I got stuck behing someone with their seat fully reclined the whole way and had a terrible time.....so if you want a "windae" seat or next to someone you know, it would be worth getting in touch with her.
BTW, Does anyone have any grasp of the language yet? Or are we being the typical Brits abroad and relying on their grasp of English? Will my school French be of any use?
Only 6 weeks to go!!!
Passport (and Sarah's) currently with the Vietnam Embassy (hopefully!!!).
No grasp of the Vietnamese language (typical Brit abroad), some pigeon french but not sure that will help.
Rear end now 'chaffing proof' to 2 hours duration!
Sleeping bag liner and head torch (for any unexpected power cuts etc) purchased. Oh, and a 'spork' as I'm rubbish with chopsticks!
Still a typhoid jab to arrange....must get organised!
I'm a bit of a late entrant to the group, only just booked the trip last week. Very excited! It's great to be able to chat to a few people before we meet. I'm going to be flying in from Dublin on the Fri evening but not staying at the Hilton so will hopefully see you all the airport on Sat morning.
I've been on a few Exodus trips before including the 'Cycle Cuba' one a few years ago, which I loved! Really looking forward to this trip now though as I haven't travelled much in Asia before. This one sounds like it has a really nice mix of scenery, culture and great food - and there's nothing like a day in the saddle to make you feel justified in gorging on the local fare.
There's no Vietnamese embassy in Ireland so have to apply for visa through London so think Travcour are my best bet. Must get that sorted now next week.
Out for a cycle this morning for the first time in ages, bit of work to do before the trip.
Looking forward to meeting you all,
Kathryn great to hear from you....you can probably tell we're all getting really excited.
Some of us are planning to meet at Heathrow on the Sat morning for a coffee and intro before the flight...let us know if you want to join in :)
I also did Cycle Cuba in 2008 and really enjoyed it am looking forward to this trip.
Has a meeting place been set in heathrow on the Sat. morning?
My passport in also at the V. Embassy for the Visa ( I hope)
Hi Katherine, and a big welcome
Allister was number 6, you are number 7, its great to have yet another on board. Allister, we've not arranged a meet point at T4 as yet, so no doubt details will be discussed on here beforehand, suggestions gratefully received though.
I'm planning on taking my camelback with me but am wondering what safety advice anyone can give on keeping passport and cash safe as I've never done a holiday moving from place to place each night. I'm also wondering what people's views are on currency as when I went to Thailand I was advised to take dollars, not a good exchange rate and when I got there I would have got a better exchange rate for British Pounds - has anyone looked into this?
I'm planning on getting my bike out this coming Sunday morning. This weekend I was on a walking break and the nights were very heavy but I should have recovered by Sunday!!! I'm on countdown and its 5 weeks this Friday I fly to Heathrow - can't wait. Looking forward to hearing from you all soon.
Forgot to add, here's some phrases, please let me know if you manage to pronounce them!!!
I am sorry
I guess we need to decide first of all whether we want to meet before or after check-in....once we've decided that there's a list on the baa website for T4 of coffee shops, bars etc that we can pick from.
Ali, I'm also taking a camelback that has space for a waterproof and sunscreen and am thinking about just wearing a money belt under my clothes to keep my passport and money in - not sure if it'll get too sweaty though! When I went to Peru with exodus they had a lockable metal box on the bus that was fixed to the floor and we could keep valuables in, but that was an 'expedition vehicle' so doubt we'l have the same luxury this time. Don't really want to be leaving them in my rucksack on the support vehicle...
Probably going to take $US for currency - everything I've seen recommends that and seems to say you'll just get dong as change as you go - might be worth asking exodus though?
Have been trying out my cycling shorts.....wow they feel strange!
So, now we are 7!! Magnificent!! -good idea for a film......
Thans for the Vietnamese phrases - I am afraid they don't make sense till I hear them!! Spent some time in Budapest a few years ago and could understand absolutely zero!! Will try and get some into my brain before we go, though.
Latest on medical advice from here - Malaria not required - low risk area, but vital that bite avoidance is good - DEET, Skinsosoft and garlic pills for me!! And Mosquito nets too are advised - impregnated ones best. Got my "Jabs" ( I hate that word!!) in the fridge ready for a nurse visit friday - Hepatrix and Revaxis - comprising Hep A, Typhoid, Diptheria Tetanus and Polio. Going to get a Hep B booster from Occy Health at work just in case.
The other thing we did for Peru, and did not regret, was to take Travla Probiotics - tops up your gut with friendly bacteria and hopefully reduces the risk of a dicky tummy whilst on the move. You can get them on lone - google Travla products - they are not expensive and seemed to work in some rather challenging sanitation situations.
We kept our passports and cards and dosh in a Packsafe round-the-neck wallet tucked down our tops - quite comfortable and safe, yet accessible too - available in all the usual travel places like Brighams and Blacks etc.
Finally managed to get some saddle-time in at the weekend there - felt good to be out in the fresh air. Susan's W-I-D-E saddle yet to be tested, though .......will let you all know!!
And Hi, Kathryn!! Welcome on board!!
Hi all, appreciate the welcome!
Thanks for the medical update Boyd - I think I can now possibly avoid a trip to the doctors as think I'm still covered for those jabs (if I can read the doctor's scrawl on my vaccinations card correctly). Just as well as it's costing 120 euro to get visa sorted from here. That probiotic stuff sounds like a good plan too, will have to look out for that.
Well, the gym is going pretty well, 20 mins on the rower, 40 mins on a bike and 20 mins on a cross trainer so hopefully I will be fit enough. I did a lovely 12 mile walk last Saturday in the snow which was quite hard work but unfortunately my planned Sunday morning bike ride was snowed off so I had lovely family time instead. I have another 12 mile walk this weekend and will hopefully fit in a bike ride weather permitting. I'm considering everyone's tips and have ordered a neck pouch for my passport etc, am taking Allister's tip re bodyglide and will source that shortly and also the Travla probiotics although I've never had a problem before when abroad but now its been mentioned its sods law I will have problems if I'm not prepared. Does anyone know T4 very well and possiby arrange somewhere for us all to meet? I don't mind if we meet prior to check in or afterwards, maybe after check in when we are all excited and have handed over our luggage. Susan/Boyd, will look out for you on Friday at the Hilton.
Looking forward to meeting everyone - take care.
Sorry if this appears twice. I tried to send this to the forum this afternoon but it's not there!!!
I went for a bike ride on Sunday with some friends under a cloudless sky but with temps of -1 to +2. but a nice ride. At the moment we have about 8 inches of snow which fell in 6 hours today and the snow is to continue until Late Thursday. I can't remember a winter that has lasted so long. Our large garden pond has been frozen since the 11 Decenber. and we had snow on the ground for seven weeks.
Can't help with sugesstions for meeting in T4 but would suggest that we meet after check-in to be free of the luggage.
I have not got my visa yet but it is just under two weeks since I sent off my passport.
If this trip is like the other trips I have done then bottled water will be carried by the back-up bus and will be available every morning and on request at the "tea stops".
32 days to go and counting!!!!
Gym going well here too....doing lots of cycling and less saddle sore now! Also lots of upper body work as someone told me that really helps with the tiredness when cycling distances. Still planning on getting some kind of gel / cream - will look at the Bodyglide. With Ali on the 'now it's been mentioned' probiotic theme....
Visa not yet back - hoping it will be here in next couple of days, probably won't get worried until next week! Had typhoid jab this morning so have a sore arm, but at least it's out of the way. Just sun cream to buy now - trying to look for Banana Boat as it's meant to be really sweat resistant!
There is a Starbucks or a Costa after security in T4 - how does one of them sound for a get together. Think we fly at 10.50 and will get called to the gate around 10, so maybe meet in one of those around 9am?
Can't wait for 4 weeks time!!!!!!!
Re Visa's. When I emailed the Embassy they advised me that they were closed 15-21 February so your visa will probably take around 3 weeks to turn around. This might put your mind at ease a little. Allister - lucky you getting out on your bike. I'm not close enough to the countryside here to risk cycling in snow but am desperate to get out this Sunday morning. I've just done an hour on the bike in the gym but its just nothing like the real thing. I think we all have the same thoughts on snow at the moment. I can't remember ever having so much snow for so long a period. Regarding meeting for coffee, my preference is Starbucks but am happy with Costa (but only if I really have to - only joking, I'm not that fussy or that demanding!!) Oooohhh I'm all of a tremble as it's getting really close.
Take care all.
Woohoo......little card waiting on the door mat this evening saying special delivery envelope awaiting collection from the sorting office....could it be passports and visas???? Haha me thinks so!!!
Bust my camelbak though darn it....will have to go shopping again!
I got my passport back today plus a note asking for a further £7,00 as the visa charge went up in January. I had use the trip notes for the visa details when I booked the trip in October. I am really impressed that they sent it back without full payment!
Another 6 inches of snow yestreday and it is still snowing. The snow which fell in December through to early Feb was very dry but this stuff is very wet and slushy I expect there will be flooding any day now!
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