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Richard O. Buck, M.D.

Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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Vietnam by bicycle: A journey of fitness, cultural experience and remembrance, Part 2

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“Good Morning, Vietnam!” Many of a certain age remember this phrase from Robin Williams’ 1987 war-comedy film, which depicted life in Saigon during 1965.

Things have definitely changed since the end of the war in Vietnam in 1975. While still undeveloped in many ways, Vietnam is now in the midst of dramatic change, especially in the large cities. 

During my bicycle trip through its back roads and small towns, many of which remain relatively unchanged, I learned a great deal from the Vietnamese and especially appreciated their warmth and friendliness.


Vietnamese hospitality

These people have endured much in their lives, including centuries of wars and the associated poverty and loss. Yet we, as Americans, were greeted with “hellos” and “Where are you from?” everywhere went. It was with delight that we answered that we were from the USA and that we were happy to be visiting their country. 

Modern conveniences

The children are learning English in school, and there are cell phones everywhere, even in the most rural areas we visited. I stopped once to talk with a young family and after taking a picture of them, the father pulled out his phone and took a picture of us!

Modes of moving

Transportation is mainly by bicycle and walking. As a result, I did not see nearly as many obese people as I would in America, where obesity is a major medical concern. The main motorized form of transportation is by motor bike. They are most everywhere in the country, but they have not completely replaced the bicycle. In the big cities, the millions of motor bikes make crossing the street a true adventure.

Personal pay-off

The trip also taught me a great deal about my physical ability and stamina. I was able to negotiate challenging roads, thanks to the increased balance I’ve developed. It came in handy in avoiding multiple potholes and other hazards. I also rode up steep mountain foothills, enjoying the payoff of my hard training on the bike and in the gym.

I also came home seven pounds lighter! I’m determined not to regain this weight. I learned from my experience and from observing the Vietnamese lifestyle, the importance of incorporating daily physical activity into one’s life.

To learn more about the drastic changes I’ve made to regain my fitness and the group I traveled with along this journey, please see my previous post. And be sure to review these healthful reasons for riding your bike.

Knowledgeable and cheerful, Dr. Richard Buck's friendly personality and more than 30 years of experience complement one another perfectly. Board certified in asthma, allergy and immunology, as well as pediatrics, he diagnoses and treats patients of all ages.