This section about Hekou is the ninth instalment of my bicycle ride from Yunnan to Cambodia – if all goes according to plan. Titled “Slap the Belgian!”, it is simultaneously published on, where you’ll find a map with the itinerary and many other bicycle diaries by me and others. I hope you’ll enjoy.

As I arrived just thirty minutes late to get my Vietnam visa done on Friday, I had to wait the entire weekend for official services to resume on the Vietnam side. In a town like Hekou, that’s a bit of a punishment. The town is not really boring, but isn’t interesting enough either to spend three full days in.

Fortunately, two French cyclists (Anaïs and Romain from Toulouse on their trip from France to Thailand) made the boredom bearable. It’s fun to listen to their descriptions of the cultures they’ve encountered and they kindle in me the desire to ride around Turkey and Iran some time. At the same time they remind me of how difficult it is to enjoy China without speaking any Chinese and on how much great food you miss out if you don’t know where to find it.

The riverside juice shop I used to go to has a new owner now and there’s no more Vietnamese ice coffee, which is a bummer, but the Vietnamese coffee on Vietnam street is still great – even though they get the coffee out of a bottle rather than making it fresh. There are also Banh mi stands (like French baguettes with pâté and veggies and eggs), a refreshing novelty in this town.

Hekou railway station
Hekou railway station, once a major stop on the metre gauge line Hai Phong – Kunming