‘See how big the world is’

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Because the world has more to offer than big cars and trips to Dubai, Laura (36) and Oscar (43) decided to cycle through Vietnam with their sons Roef (8) and Sierd (6) and daughter Maia (4).

“The children were scared to death after we picked up our rental bikes. We were in Hanoi, one of the busiest cities in the world, and a week earlier we had thought at home that we could also make our trip through Vietnam by bicycle.

Within a minute of arrival we had arranged two bicycles for adults and a children’s bicycle: Maia went on the back, the boys were allowed to take turns. Hanoi was a bit different from our hometown of Naarden, where you don’t see a chicken on the road. Here were scooters, mopeds, people, animals everywhere. When I saw my eight-year-old son kicking through the crowd, I had some doubts about our plan. But that was different after one day, when we cycled out of the city and arrived at the rice fields of Mai Chau.

travelogue Taiwan three children cycling

Between the rice fields

When we travel, we try to avoid the touristic places as much as possible. That is why we often sleep at homestays, in people’s homes. That’s really nice, the people who offer their rooms are genuinely happy that you’re here. Once we even slept right between the rice fields.

“By staying in people’s homes, you get to know the real life there”

At half past five we were awakened by the people who went to work around us, because the sun was coming up. There was nothing else except a cock crowing. Nice and calm. But the best thing about homestays is that you really work with a family. In the evening you can sit down and eat what is served: delicious spring rolls, spring rolls and always fresh vegetables.

In the picture

Although we don’t even have blond children, we attracted a lot of attention along the way. As soon as we cycled into a village, the first person who saw us went to get half the village to welcome us. Then food was served to us and children came to us who wanted to play with Roef, Sierd and Maia. Our eldest son was especially happy, because he had been afraid beforehand that he wouldn’t be able to play football on holiday, but along the way there always turned out to be a child who wanted to play with him.

“On the way there was always a child who wanted to play with them”

Our children sometimes had to get used to that attention; people even lined up to have their picture taken with them. They soon got tired of that, but although I kept telling them they could refuse, they often posed for such a picture anyway.

travelogue Taiwan three children cycling


Vietnam is a country of extremes: in the cities it is very busy, but outside there is only peace. We discovered a national park with 300 caves, some large enough to fit an apartment building. We also walked over the longest glass bridge in the world: between your feet you looked straight into the ravine.

Hoi An, with its yellow buildings, beautiful bridges and many lanterns, I found an idyllic harbor town. But in the end I found it more pleasant in the countryside, the peace was very nice. And those quiet places could also surprise us.

So we arrived on New Year’s Eve in a valley where there was nothing to do. The children were happy: a blast tonight! I tried to dampen their enthusiasm, I saw us in bed at nine o’clock. Until an uncle of the family in our homestay offered us a lift to a village festival. I still expected a party with five people and some buffaloes, but things went wild there.

“The quiet places could also surprise us”

No idea what was being celebrated, but there were fireworks, people wore traditional clothes, there was dancing and campfires. Fifteen minutes before midnight everyone suddenly went home, so it was certainly not a New Year’s party. But we had a great evening there.

Read also – On an adventure with young children: ‘My parents and girlfriends think I’m crazy’ >


A year ago we traveled to Mexico with the children. I had a lot of negative comments about that beforehand: everyone thought it was bizarre that we were going on a road trip through one of the most dangerous countries in the world with a small rental car. Plus, our kids wouldn’t remember any of it.

And even though our children love our trips, sometimes I also think: what are we doing to them? They have never been in one place for three weeks on vacation; they know no better than that they have to move every two days.

Still, I think it’s important that they see how big the world is. In Naarden, everyone drives around in large containers; in the summer many families go to Dubai or Curaçao, where the rest of the class is also. While the children we encountered in Vietnam may only have one soccer ball, and they are no less fortunate. It sounds like a cliché, but that’s what I want to pass on to my children.

“I want them to taste everything, but draw the line at fried rat”

I want to stimulate their curiosity by traveling. That’s why I want them to taste everything, although I did stop Sierd when he wanted to start eating fried rat. It’s nice to see how they discover everything and how they overcome their fears. For example, by getting on that bike and riding through Hanoi. I often told them there: ‘If you can cycle here, you can do it anywhere.’”

travelogue Taiwan three children cycling


Big cave We visited the caves of Phong Na by boat. At another cave we first had to climb a mountain. Overwhelmingly beautiful.

Victory I have a huge fear of heights, but I dared to take the longest glass bridge in the world at Moc Chau.

Temple fever Bai Dinh is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Southeast Asia. Contrary to expectations, the kids loved it too.

Prospect We saw the most beautiful viewpoint at the Hang Mua cave in Ninh Binh. It’s a bit of a climb, but the reward is amazing!

To sleep

Home feeling Homestays are so much nicer than hotels. Many people in Vietnam rent out a room in or huts next to their house. We slept wonderfully between the rice fields at Little Mai Chau Home Stay, in Mai Chau. This family is available all day and serves a delicious meal in the evening.

Caring Also recommended: Tam Coc Horizon Bungalow. The owners are so sweet, I’ve never experienced that anywhere. We even got a foot bath every night to sleep better.

To eat

Enjoy In Hanoi we did a food tour, you can often arrange this on the spot. For four hours we walked with two students past fifteen stalls, where you can taste dishes. You enter backstreets where you would normally never go and eat delicious things; sometimes I had no idea what it was. For me this was the highlight of the holiday.

Bun different Everywhere in Vietnam they sell banh mi, baguettes topped with vegetables and meat or tofu. We ate the best at Phi Banh Mi in Hoi An.

Spring roll heaven If you are in Tam Coc, be sure to visit Father Cooking Restaurant. By far the best spring rolls of our trip.

travelogue Taiwan three children cycling
travelogue Taiwan three children cycling

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