16,000km by bicycle from France to Vietnam for education
“Nón lá” project has started on a crazy idea: to cycle from Europe to Asia. From Thibault’s continent to Khánh Nguyên’s continent!
They want to raise funds for the NGO : “Poussieres de Vie” (in English, “dust of life”) which enables young kids from poor families to go to school, to train them and to find them a job when they will become adults.
Khanh Nguyen and Thibault both met in Vietnam in 2015 and just get married. For their honeymoon they decided to do something a bit special: to cycle together from France to Vietnam during almost on year!
WhAT means “Nón lá“?
Good question! “NÓN LÁ” is the Vietnamese conical hat. It is traditionally worn by Vietnamese farmers.
It symbolizes for them the end of their incredible journey : Vietnam.
It also carries with it the values of Vietnamese farmers which will be their guides during our trip: courage, endurance and solidarity with others.
The two of them will wear one “Nón lá” hat during our trip!
the ngo they support: “Poussières de vie“
“Poussières de Vie” (“dust of life” in English) is a non-profit organization helping Vietnam’s most disadvantaged people through funding and managing a variety of projects in Vietnam.
They promote lasting change in the lives of Vietnamese disadvantaged children by bringing them back to school, teaching them a trade and helping with their personal development,
“NÓN LÁ Project” will be the opportunity to organize a fundraising campaign for which they plan to raise 1 USD for each kilometer we will cycle. A 16,000km ride would then represent potentially 16,000 USD for which 100% will go directly to Poussières de Vie !
If you want to find out more, here is the NÓN LÁ’s website. Each supporter will find the name in the credits of a final “NÓN LÁ Project” movie in 2020.
J o u r n e y D i a r y
Our bicycles are ready to go from France to Vietnam.
Our paniers as well.
Our minds and souls also.
But we are not so sure about our bodies!
Our big departure is in two weeks now!
Our big departure is tomorrow!! During one year we will cycle from France to Vietnam….
Thanks to the great assistance of the bicycle shop we had some training on how to fix the bikes.
We learnt how to repair basic feature of the bike and as well to maintain a wheel.
We hope that we won’t need make too many repairs during our long journey – especially in the middle of the mountains or the desert…- but we are ready to face it now
There we go!! 🚴♀️🚴♀️🌏
It is difficult to realize but we have started the biggest challenge of our lives. To cycle from France to Vietnam. 🇫🇷 🇻🇳
It is incredible to see a dream finally starting to becoming true. This adventure asked for us so much motivation, preparation, so many doubts, so many hopes, so many hours spent on blogs, websites to find the right bicycles and the right gear…
But now we only have to enjoy, we only have to pedal. The road is wide open in front of us. Vietnam: there we go !
Total distance: 350/16,000km
These first 4 days have been challenging for us. With bikes fully loaded we have often hard times when climbing up! 🚵♀️🚵♂️
We had to do an average of more than 85km per day as we wanted to be at Thibault’s grandparent’s hometown to celebrate Easter. 🍫🍫
We had great days on the road: weather was cool and sunny, we love our bikes, the roads we took were with very few traffic and going through a lot of forests. Spring is all around with blooming trees and flowers. 🌳🌳🌿🌹
We feel also very lucky for all the kind people we have met during these first days. We had great hosts through warmshowers.com during 3 nights (Etienne, Binh and Steven). They cooked for us incredible meals and we had a great time with all of them. 😃😃😃
Another example of kindness: as it was very warm, we stopped at a random house to ask for water. A woman opened the door and immediately smiled at Thibault. She immediately propose to offer some water and… to put some ice in it ! We just felt like in heaven!
We will rest during 2 days at Thibault’s home to celebrate Easter with his grandparents and all his cousins. It will be a good time for our bodies to rest and to be ready for the second part of the trip in France.🇫🇷
We more than ever need your support for donation for the NGO we support. You can donate directly here:
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Total distance🚵♀️: 510km/16,000km
Our second week on the road has lead us to the central part of France (Auvergne) and its western part (Rhone-Alpes). Auvergne was very green and hilly with very quiet roads but (too) often high percentage for climbing several hills.
We were absolutely stunned by the beautiful mountains of Massif Central and the Puy de Domes volcano.⛰⛰
After beautiful days on the road rain is coming 🌧🌧 ! As you can see on the pictures the clouds are getting darker… One hard lesson we have learned : our raincoats and our shoes are not strong enough to withstand heavy rain. After one hour we can get completely wet inside our clothes which is not comfortable at all. We maybe need to consider to invest in better material…
We are now in the city of Roanne (Rhones-Alpes) visiting some Vietnamese young adults currently training in France thanks to the great support of Poussieres de Vie. We will very soon publish an article about our great moments with all of them and the awesome French families who are hosting them here.
We will soon heading towards Switzerland🇨🇭 and we really hope the beautiful, warm and dry days will come back soon! We will have to face a lot of mountains to go to Switzerland. Will we be able to do make it?
Ultimately, we would like to thank all of you for your growing support. We feel so motivated by all the supportive messages we receive on a daily basis. In the difficult moments they push us to continue and to pursue our goal: to reach one day Vietnam with our bicycles !
Snow in May in Switzerland 🇨🇭❄️❄️❄️😮😮😮!!!
Close to Lausanne (Switzerland) we wake up surrounded by snow ! It was a big surprise for us and we didn’t expect to see snow so early in our adventure.
It was the first time for Khanh Nguyen to see snow ! Her sensation was amazing. For Thibault, it was his first time to ride a bike under snow.
Everything was white and we just felt like riding in a fairy tale landscape.
We felt very cold, especially our hands but hopefully we rode our bikes down the mountains and the temperature get warmer…
1,000km already for Nón Lá project !!!!
We can’t believe it…
It is as going from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue in Vietnam 🇻🇳
We have climbed the “Col de Pierre-Pertuis” mountain pass in Switzerland to celebrate our first 1,000km!
The road is still very long but all your support and love that you have given us during the past weeks make us everyday stronger and super motivated ! 💪💪
We are cycling for education: we want to collect $16,000 USD for kids to have access to education in Vietnam.
Bike regular maintenance that turned to be a great and sweet surprise ! 😀😀
In Geneva (Switzerland 🇨🇭), we seized the opportunity of a few days break to have our bikes checked at a bike repair shop. On a sunny day we took “Monster” and “Tank” (our bikes nicknames) to a shop called “Bike Passion”. We were a bit afraid about the prices… Everything is super extra expensive in Geneva 😟😟😟 !!!
Entering the shop we met a great guy working here called Fred. He wanted to know more about Non La Project so we gave him our name cards. He told us he would call us when the bikes would be ready.
The following day, Fred called Thibault on his phone to tell him the bikes were ready. Thibault was about to ask for the total price when Fred said :
“We really like your project so we have repaired, maintained and cleaned your both bikes for….free” !🥳🥳🤩🤩🤩
We didn’t know how to say thank you to Fred and Bike Passion shop. We came to see them in the afternoon, had a good and long talk with Fred. When we started to talk about him and his life he shared with he used to be a professional cyclist… and that he did the Tour de France !! Amazing : our bikes were checked by an ex-Tour de France participant! What an honor ! 🚴♂️😎😎😎
After checking Fred’s name on google, he was indeed a professional rider who won several races and who did the famous Tour de France ! We added some pictures about him in our post. He participated to the Tour de France in 2015 and then retired in 2018 to take care of his family.
His Wikipedia page :
Thank you Fred and Bike Passion for your kindness. Our bikes are ready more than ever to do thousands of kilometers! 🚴♂️💪🚴♀️
Please note we share this experience just because it was super nice ! There is no “agreement” between the bike shop and us.
We don’t know if we are following the mountains or if the mountains are following us ! 😅🚴♂️🚴♀️🗻🗻
We are Non La Project. We are cycling for education from France to Vietnam🚴♂️🚴♀️🇫🇷🇻🇳: we want to collect $16,000 USD for kids to have access to education in Vietnam. We need your support!
Some people often ask us what we eat on the road. Well… it really depends on the country and what we can find ! 🤔
First of all, we really love our lunches when we cycle as we are free to stop wherever we want in the nature. In Europe it is very easy to find a public bench or even a wooden table.
We will always go for bread, vegetables (avocadoes, tomatoes, etc.), fruits (berries, bananas, kiwis) and nuts (usually peanuts!). We then usually have some cheese (mozzarella or more local cheeses) and sometimes ham or fish (generally tuna!).
And for dessert… as we have been through some countries like Switzerland and Austria: chocolate! 😅😅
The big advantage of travelling by bicycle is you can eat basically whatever you want and in the quantities you want without getting weight. Indeed it is very important to go for organic/bio ingredients in order to give the best fuel to our bodies.👊👊💪
Total distance🚵♀️: 2,400km/16,000km
Sunny and warm days are finally back ! What a relief ! 😇😇😇
We were very kindly hosted by Robert and Mona before we crossed the border from Germany🇩🇪 to Austria🇦🇹. Robert has done a very long bicycle trip from Germany to Australia which lasted more than two years. It was really great to hear all his experiences and learn from him as we will go through some countries where he cycled.
Austria is our fourth country and is very close to Germany in terms in culture and language. But we can feel its countryside is very quiet and less populated. We can often see wild animals such as deer🦌🦌 which do not hear us arriving and then run away completely frightened when they finally see us.
From Salzburg to Vienna we have kept following the Alps mountains. We have been following them from Switzerland, then through Germany and Austria and are a bit sad to let them behind us. 😔😔
We enjoyed few days rest in Vienna before doing a special “loop” to Czech Republic & Slovakia before arriving in Budapest city (Hungary).
Stay tuned !
On our long way from Western to Eastern Europe we had the amazing opportunity to visit in France the Hôtel Arnsbourg in Baerenthal which is a 5 star hotel and which has one star restaurant in the very prestigious “Michelin Guide”.
We could discover three Vietnamese girls (Ngun, Hao & Thi) who were supported by Poussieres de Vie in Vietnam and who could have the unique chance to have a deep insight training of 6 months at Hôtel Arnsbourg.
We were welcomed as friends by the owners (Laure & Fabien Mengus) and we could discover the very high professionalism of all the staff and the cooks. After 6 months, Nung, Hao & Thi completely managed to adapt to their new environment and by talking with all the staff we could see everybody really love their presence here!
But it didn’t stop there… On our departure day, Laure & Fabien prepared for us a big surprise : a donation of 563 euros for Non La Project and cookies/breads generally offered by the local bakery…. We couldn’t know how to express our deep gratitude to all of them. The 563 euros donation corresponds in kilometers to the additional road we did to go from Roanne (where we had met other Vietnamese apprentices… remember?? ) to their place in Baerenthal.
After 6 months, Nung, Hao & Thi are back in Vietnam and we wish all the best to find the job they are dreaming of. We can’t wait to meet all of them again when we will finally back in Vietnam.