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TOP 5 BIKE TRIPS BY LESA CLARKSON

September 1, 2017

When​ ​I​ ​travel​ ​to​ ​Asia,​ ​I​ ​always​ ​incorporate​ ​bike​ ​rides​ ​into​ ​my​ ​touring.​ ​Riding​ ​through​ ​back​ ​alleys or​ ​country​ ​roads​ ​allows​ ​me​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​my​ ​environment​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​just​ ​a​ ​bystander​ ​from​ ​the window​ ​of​ ​a​ ​car.​ ​While​ ​touring​ ​on​ ​a​ ​bike,​ ​I​ ​always​ ​discover​ ​hidden​ ​treasures​ ​and​ ​extra​ ​smiles from​ ​those​ ​I​ ​pass.​ ​All​ ​of​ ​my​ ​senses​ ​are​ ​engaged​ ​and​ ​I​ ​feel​ ​fully​ ​immersed​ ​in​ ​my​ ​surroundings.​ ​I can​ ​take​ ​in​ ​the​ ​details​ ​that​ ​may​ ​otherwise​ ​be​ ​overlooked! 

1

Kyoto,​ ​Japan 

Kyoto​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​best​ ​cities​ ​in​ ​Asia​ ​for​ ​touring​ ​on​ ​the​ ​seat​ ​of​ ​a​ ​bike.​ ​I​ ​love​ ​riding​ ​along​ ​its​ ​side streets,​ ​from​ ​noodle​ ​shops​ ​to​ ​teahouses.​ ​Its​ ​old​ ​quarters​ ​reveal​ ​thriving​ ​cottage​ ​industries​ ​producing all​ ​manner​ ​of​ ​traditional​ ​goods.​ ​A​ ​maiko​ ​(apprentice​ ​geisha)​ ​may​ ​even​ ​be​ ​spotted.​ ​The​ ​city​ ​has​ ​many wonderful​ ​bike​ ​routes,​ ​joining​ ​several​ ​of​ ​its​ ​17​ ​UNESCO​ ​World​ ​Heritage​ ​sites. 

2

Siem​ ​Reap,​ ​Cambodia 

Seeing​ ​the​ ​Siem​ ​Reap​ ​countryside​ ​and​ ​Angkor​ ​monuments​ ​by​ ​bicycle​ ​is​ ​always​ ​a​ ​fun​ ​and​ ​unique exploration.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​my​ ​favorite​ ​rides​ ​is​ ​a​ ​late​ ​afternoon/sunset​ ​ride,​ ​passing​ ​the​ ​King’s​ ​residence​ ​and going​ ​through​ ​the​ ​Royal​ ​Gardens​ ​and​ ​along​ ​Siem​ ​Reap​ ​River,​ ​viewing​ ​the​ ​local​ ​homes​ ​and​ ​small riverside​ ​markets.​ ​After​ ​crossing​ ​the​ ​river,​ ​the​ ​path​ ​winds​ ​along​ ​red​ ​clay​ ​roads​ ​and​ ​small​ ​dirt​ ​trails, through​ ​a​ ​series​ ​of​ ​local​ ​villages,​ ​crossing​ ​small​ ​farms​ ​and​ ​passing​ ​children​ ​playing.​ ​Life​ ​appears​ ​as​ ​if it​ ​has​ ​not​ ​changed​ ​for​ ​generations.​ ​As​ ​the​ ​temples​ ​close​ ​to​ ​visitors,​ ​a​ ​ride​ ​along​ ​roads​ ​and​ ​trails​ ​in​ ​the archeological​ ​park​ ​reveals​ ​the​ ​magical​ ​light​ ​reflecting​ ​off​ ​the​ ​temples​ ​at​ ​twilight,​ ​that​ ​many​ ​visitors don’t​ ​get​ ​to​ ​experience.  

3

Phnom​ ​Penh,​ ​Cambodia 

Exploring​ ​some​ ​of​ ​Cambodia’s​ ​Mekong​ ​Islands​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​Phnom​ ​Penh​ ​is​ ​another​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​favorite rides.​ ​Only​ ​5​ ​km​ ​from​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​of​ ​Cambodia’s​ ​capital​ ​city,​ ​is​ ​an​ ​island​ ​oasis​ ​where​ ​one​ ​can​ ​ride​ ​at​ ​a gentle​ ​pace​ ​and​ ​discover​ ​true​ ​rural​ ​Cambodia.​ ​These​ ​islands,​ ​created​ ​by​ ​the​ ​flows​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Mekong River,​ ​are​ ​isolated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​bridges,​ ​but​ ​ferry​ ​connections​ ​provide​ ​access​ ​for​ ​villagers​ ​who​ ​use the​ ​fertile​ ​soil​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​fruit​ ​and​ ​vegetables​ ​and,​ ​in​ ​between​ ​farming​ ​cycles,​ ​they​ ​weave​ ​beautiful​ ​silk and​ ​cotton​ ​textiles.​ ​The​ ​absence​ ​of​ ​most​ ​four​ ​wheeled​ ​traffic​ ​makes​ ​for​ ​a​ ​peaceful​ ​ride​ ​where​ ​the hustle​ ​of​ ​the​ ​city​ ​is​ ​left​ ​behind.​ ​The​ ​riding​ ​is​ ​flat​ ​and​ ​is​ ​perfect​ ​for​ ​active​ ​families. 

4

Hoi​ ​An,​ ​Vietnam 

Tasting​ ​the​ ​local​ ​food​ ​and​ ​delicacies​ ​of​ ​an​ ​area​ ​is​ ​as​ ​much​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​culture​ ​as​ ​the​ ​city’s​ ​sites.​ ​One of​ ​my​ ​favorite​ ​food​ ​tours​ ​is​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​exploration​ ​of​ ​Hoi​ ​An​ ​by​ ​bicycle,​ ​where​ ​one​ ​rides​ ​from​ ​family home​ ​to​ ​family​ ​home.​ ​Beginning​ ​at​ ​Tan​ ​An​ ​Central​ ​Market,​ ​with​ ​its​ ​huge​ ​array​ ​of​ ​street​ ​foods,​ ​we​ ​see where​ ​the​ ​locals​ ​purchase​ ​the​ ​essential​ ​ingredients​ ​for​ ​their​ ​daily​ ​meals.​ ​We​ ​then​ ​ride​ ​bicycles​ ​to​ ​the first​ ​family​ ​home​ ​while​ ​they’re​ ​making​ ​the​ ​famous​ ​White​ ​Rose​ ​dumpling.​ ​We’ll​ ​see​ ​how​ ​this​ ​famous dish,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​being​ ​sold​ ​in​ ​every​ ​restaurant​ ​and​ ​food​ ​stall​ ​in​ ​Hoi​ ​An,​ ​is​ ​made.​ ​We’ll​ ​then​ ​continue riding​ ​to​ ​another​ ​family​ ​home​ ​where​ ​they​ ​make​ ​Mi​ ​Quang​ ​noodles​ ​and​ ​learn​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of​ ​making this​ ​well-known​ ​noodle​ ​dish,​ ​originating​ ​from​ ​the​ ​central​ ​region.​ ​Our​ ​last​ ​stop​ ​is​ ​at​ ​a​ ​local​ ​family​ ​home in​ ​the​ ​peaceful​ ​and​ ​beautiful​ ​countryside​ ​where​ ​we​ ​will​ ​enjoy​ ​a​ ​cool​ ​drink​ ​before​ ​helping​ ​to​ ​prepare lunch​ ​and​ ​then​ ​partaking​ ​in​ ​our​ ​creations.  

5

Yangshuo,​ ​China 

There​ ​is​ ​no​ ​place​ ​more​ ​scenic​ ​than​ ​the​ ​landscape​ ​around​ ​Yangshuo,​ ​with​ ​its​ ​nearly​ ​vertical​ ​karst formations​ ​soaring​ ​from​ ​verdant​ ​rice​ ​paddies​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Yangzi​ ​River​ ​meandering​ ​through​ ​misty​ ​hills. Riding​ ​through​ ​this​ ​landscape​ ​is​ ​surreal​ ​and​ ​serene.​ ​Needless​ ​to​ ​say,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​favorite​ ​rides​ ​in China.  

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