Monday, August 31, 2009

2nd day of Vietnam by bike - The adventure continues

bike incidents / fast roads / sun&heat / heavy rain / the lift

Had an amazing, beautiful, interesting day. Perfect in its imperfection!

Monday 31.08.2009: Thanh Binh - Thanh Hoa

Start: 8:00 am, it's a sunny day
(notes in the notbook - 2nd breakfast 9 - 9:30 am )

- Today I decided to choose one run smaller in the gear shift, than yesterday, so that I give a higher frequency to the paddles. Through the automaticly faster breathing the muscles are being supplied better with O2. It feels more controlled and less exhausting, whileI should have the same speed.
- Just touched my backpack while riding and noticed how much it shakes all the time - even on even roads.
- The gearshift made some noise today too, so I realized that the chain has been moving sidewards too.

The bike incident

(notes on facebook - ca. 11:00 am)
- 24 hours after starting with the bike, my back wheel looks like noodle salad. Great there was a mechanician around just a couple of metres after I noticed it. And just one door further is the internet cafe where I am now.
(about 45 min. later on facebook)
- The mechanician's been doing an excellent job, it seems. Much better than the one I met yesterday, who instead of improving my little problem with the gear shift worsened it..(so then I fixed it again myself).
- Now it's almost ready again. I also fixed the two bamboo sticks - Tam's idea to let the backpack lay better on the bike..on the bamboo - with rubber band. Think like this the whole thing should move a bit less/be more stabile, so that the problem I had also hopefully shouldn't occure again so quickly.

The problem I actually had was with the crossings of the backwheel. Then I had to realize though that the mechanician had troubles with the gearshift.. they just don't often see stuff like this; if at all.

It actually looked helpless then, so I decided to go for lunch. Met very nice people again (the kids of the mechanician were fun too), had some good food and dropped a bowl. They didn't want me to pay for the food. I was very thankful.. but then I felt bad and wanted to pay them for the crushed bowl at least. They refused.

Back to my bike, it was done! We were all so happy.. and the mechanician proud. Like I said, he was great! ;) I did a few metres with the bike to see how it works and one of the boys was screaming "yaayy".. The good-bye then was very heartily - even more than just a couple of minutes earlier, when I left the small restaurant.

Fast roads

(notebook 2:30pm - 2:50 - at a small Cafe)
1:45 - 2:30 pm - was finally back on the road again, the bike incident cost me around 3 hours.
- following wind / big streets / going pretty fast - no wonder, I had a long break and a good lunch.
- the heat and the sun don't bother me

Sun & Heat

2:15 pm: - suddenly sunny again, after some min. of clouds / feels really hot now
2:30 pm: - considering the speed I had, I decided it might be wise to search the shadow for a little while / I felt like on fire / need to be carful, you never know; I'm still pretty new to this climate
- think stopping was really a good decision; now about 10 min. after arriving in the Cafe, I feel and partly look like having been under water with clothes
- the Cafe is empty. At first I thought nobody's here, but then saw the owners sleeping in the next room.
2:50 pm: less sunny again and dark clouds are coming from the direction I came - leaving the

Heavy rain

(notebook 3:50 pm / yet another Cafe)
- short after I left the Cafe one hour ago, I heard the tunder; back on the road, I was in the shining sun again
- In Ninh Binh I felt I was doing a competition with the dark clouds.. took videos again, seeing myself as winner - at the entrance of the city, they caught me / the rain got me
- I've been here in shelter from 3:15 - 4 pm
- at first there was very heavy rain, when it started, now lighter
- seeing some blue space between the clouds - heading off again at four o'clock

Ninh Binh - Thanh Hoa:
Very dusty, loud, dickey and rather dangerous road with lots of trucks. But wouldn't have wanted to miss this experience. It's part of the adventure!

Bike incident

(notebook 8 pm / at the hotel in Thanh Hoa)
5:30 pm: had "noodle sallad" again ie. the bad wheel.
- thought that would be the end of the ride for today, since there was no mechanician around and you need a special tool for this (will get me tomorrow, so that I can check it every few hours on the road)
- but with a gripper we fixed the crossings, so that I could continue my trip for a couple of kms more.
- was a nice mountainous area though and wouldn't have minded staying either

The lift

6:00 pm: Sunset
- the sunset means it's getting dark slowly (in europe we have it 3-4 hours longer bright in summer) and I should think about finding something to stay for the night
- saw a building that looked like some hotel, but passed over.. there even was internet next door / still felt good though and wanted to stay on the bike for a bit more / still would have been nice to wake up in this environment, with some awesome views.. even if there was the dirty street nearby
- but some metres farther, three young and smiley guys in a small truck stopped and suggested to give me a ride / I said ok, thinking it could be fun
since they looked nice, there didn't seem to have been danger
- felt this kind of thing also belongs to every adventure, the bike on the back of the car (maybe me too, but because of police we didn't do this) and today I got lots of it. :))
- that was about 25 km before Thanh Hoa, my secret dream destination (about 120 km away from the city I started that morning), so cosidering the distances in the cities themselves and the time I finally was on the bike altogether, I probably had between 100-115 km done today.

Tomorrow a relaxed day is planned: Looking for a bicycle shop and then taking the train down south. My muscles most probably need this break.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hai Phong - Thanh Binh (by bike)

I finally want to share some experiences from Vietnam. I hope to write about my earlier days a bit later here.

At first, my experiences with hotels so far was: The cheaper, the bigger and more comfortable. I'm in my third hotel now (fourth when I count in the night on the boat in Halong Bay;) and I'm loving it. But there's no way to find anything even cheaper with the service the one here offers.

Right now I'm in Thanh Binh. Did my first day on the bike, from Hai Phong. Tam and me started at 10 am and I rode the bike 'till 4.30 pm. Tam is the friend who did so much for me (helped me with the bicycle and so many other stuff, I'm very thankful and still moved by her dedication and support!). This morning then she showed me the way out of the city, to the road that leads to Saigon. Wasn't too easy to find and it took quite a while to get out of Hai Phong's suburbs.

The distance I did today was approxamitely 50-60 km. Less than I would have thought, but I'm glad that everything went well. Since the bike is not so good (a bit shaky), and I don't have the kind of gear for the bike I have at home. Also my legs actually felt a bit heavy already not too long after starting and also my derriere soon felt like apple puree. The saddle is made of bamboo sticks. At least it felt like this after a while. ;)

Tomorrow I plan to get to a city from where I want to take the train for a bit then. In order to skip the middle, the poorest part of Vietnam. A suggestion from Tam. Also since I need to skip something, otherwise there wouldn't be enough time to reach Saigon and then get back to Hanoi (by train anyways) on time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

10 days to go

Today I thought about leaving my laptop here when going to Vietnam, after I went to an electronics-shop to ask about what I could do concerning the different voltage throughout the country (especially on the countryside it can differ a lot) and they showed me the smallest voltage transformator I would need. It has about the weight of three of my laptops. Later today I had the idea that, instead of taking this with me, I could simply keep my computer usage at a minimum level and use it unplugged mostly (it runs more than 8 hours with electricity). Then I could charge the battery of the laptop when it seems safe... I just checked and realized that the adapter from the laptop has a compatibility from 100-240 V anyway, so it seems it could deal with certain differences. But yes, to be be secure, I could still stick to my first idea, to use it mostly unplugged. Guess I still must think about what to do with the other gadgets I take with me. Two of them can be charged through USB, but that means that I would have the computer on. The battery of my DSLR can be charged externally, so that should be no greater problem. Well, to be continued in my next blog? No, I hope not... seems a bit silly to write about such technical problems, so I hope the next time I will find something else to write about. ;-)

Anyway, having the laptop with me surely could already make the train ride (to Frankfurt, from where the flight goes) and the 17 hours of flight a bit more varied. Would be nice to talk to some interesting people too of course. So what I thought of already is that I could do something with the filmed material I recorded 'till then, and cut together one or two mini videos. Then there will be a book, music of course and let's see if I will need more.

By the way, as for my new cam, I got it confirmed today: there's no way to find a better camera for that price by this time. =) Tomorrow I'm gonna bring it back to where I bought it though. So unless they cannot exchange it with another one, I will ask for my money back and buy the same model somewhere else (found it even cheaper in amazon). It created some strange problems already, after just these few times.

PS: Going to try another blog site again, I'm thinking now maybe I'm gonna move there. =)

PPS: Just noticed the 'gadgets' here... think I should check them out too before switching, to see what they're all about!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

12 days before the flight (about pc, camera & co.)

Hi, this is my first blog of this kind. I'm starting it particularly, or exclusively, in preparation for my trip to Vietnam (starting August 23rd).

At first, if you intend to read all of this (sorry for the stream of words!;), you might check out this song.. since I'm "drifting" a couple of times.

Yesterday I received the lock for my (last week purchased) Eee PC! (If you haven't heard from Eee before, it's a baby under the laptops; but a pretty advanced one.) At first I didn't plan to take it to Vietnam, but then I thought it could be a nice thing, and could make some things easier, more comfortable and faster. At least when it comes to transferring music- and particularly saving image-data or when wanting to write something and share it. Carrying it with me is another thing though, it partly makes things a bit more difficult, less comfortable and slower; I anyway should rather not run with the computer on my back. But ok, with all the other stuff in my backpack then, it wouldn't be quite fun to run anyway. I just thought of it (needing to run) for the case I would need to catch a bus or so, and possibly having to wait for the next one for two hours if I wouldn't get it. Although, as I heard there must be quite many of them on the roads in Vietnam(?). But who knows, maybe I'm also gonna be using some other means of transportation... such as turtle or donkey. ;-)

What I wanted to say is that I'm happy about this lock for the laptop, because in the last couple of days I've been worrying a bit about all the (electronic, and in some cases just recently purchased) stuff that I want to take with me [besides the above and below mentioned, it was an mp3-Player]. So this lock eases me a bit, well at least for the Eee. And after the DSLR, the Eee is the most valuable piece of technology I would carry.

Anyhow, do you have any tips on this, taking the computer with me to Vietnam? I will just travel with a big backpack and inside there would be the laptop? Hmm, not sure yet if or how that would work! (Edit: I just received my traveler back
pack, and it actually has the "ideal" space - at least it seems so - for the laptop on the outside.. I only would need to protect it a bit, and then it should be quite fine.)

@White Cube from Yves Schiepek on Vimeo.

(if you can't play this video properly, scroll down for a smaller version)

To the video. Basically it is a byproduct of my preparations for my travels. And my first experience cutting (digital) film on the computer. For my previous short movies I used my mobile-phone to record and cut. =) But yes, it's a very similar process as with the video slideshows I also did.

Actually I simply wanted to get me a low-priced compact camera, in addition to my DSLR, so that in case I'd have my 300mm lens on the camera
(which is the case mostly, after I had sold my 100mm 2.0 lens*), I could simply switch to the compact camera for a wide(r) angle. I'm just mostly too lazy to change lenses. So I found this camera, a Kodak M1033, on sale - which normally already has quite a good price - as exhibit, with about 15% off. And when I noticed that it has the video mode, and even in HD... Well, I guess I just wanted me to have it. I also checked for reviews in the internet, and they were mostly pretty good. So 'till now I've rather been recording video with it, other than taking pictures. =)

The bright lens: It was too expensive for my way of using and I wasn't so happy with it > would have prefered a 50mm, as I found out later; pity that I don't have a Canon, since they sell such bright lenses for a WAY better price.. especially the manual ones from second hand.. argh, maybe I should try again selling the Olympus when I'm back, there are some good reasons to get a Canon or Nikon.

So yes, I'm really quite happy with this camera. It even has an editing-mode (to cut the videos) - besides other nice options - so that I don't need to put the entire footage on my computer, then cut it and THEN convert it, before I can work with it in the editing program. That saves much time and effort. And also looks a bit more well-arranged in the folders, when I can seperate the videos and have many short ones, rather than a huge overlap of videos, with all the unwanted things in them: the shaking (from pressing the record-button for example) or just "meaningless"/boring footage, etc.

The quality of this video isn't great of course, since it was taken under these low light circumstances. So the ISO rate was high. Another thing about the quality is that for now I recorded everything without a tripod, in my hand. So that it shakes sometimes anyway. I want to use a tripod though in the future, as often as possible. Oh, and unfortunately do both, Windows Media Player and iMovie convert the HD 16:9 video to a 4:3 format. So yes, what you see now is actually distorted..

This one was entirely edited in W. Movie Maker. But just now I found the AVS Video Editor & Video Converter software for windows. It looks neat so far. I hope it works better than the two above mentioned, without the troubles they make in one way or another.

Why I put together a video from this night and not from my (very beautiful) day by the sea in the forest the same day, has probably to do with the fact that this material was something else for me and maybe even more that I felt it would be easier to deal with the music.

PS: Initially I wanted to use the original music for the video, which was being played that night and actually also was pretty atmospheric and interesting (I liked it), but when last night I listened to the music I finally used (Christian Scott's "Like that"), I felt a bit more inspired to do this. I guess since it equates more to my usual taste. =)

(Hm, think I should try to write less the next times... otherwise it probably even makes it harder for myself later to have an overview on what I was writing - but ok, it is not likely that I would sit at the computer in Vietnam for such a long time to share all my thoughts, and would rather make it short anyway then.)

PPS: To this Blogging site here. It seems quite nice, but what already bothers me a bit is that every too often it just doesn't want to save..... but as you see, I finally made it.