The last post on the subject of hygiene attracted lots of attention and after more than a month cycling in Vietnam needs updating. Riding in the heat and humidity is very different from the winter cycling in Australia and the following subjects all need further clarification:
- The three basic sets of clothing, underpants, socks and t-shirts still works but could be reduced to two. We wash everything we’ve been riding in at the end of each day and hang it out to dry with the room fan on over night. We carry washing powder and leave the clothes to soak in the washhand basin each evening whilst we shower. We’ve bought a 5m length of cord from which to hang the clothes to dry. For the architects amongst you this length has so far been perfect and not failed. I use a midshipman’s knot to tie either end from a curtain rail, bathroom door hinge or wardrobe hanging rail. Our room always looks like a laundry.
- We get really filthy and smelly from the road. My cycling mitts smell like vinegar with fish and chips. I’ve had some kind of tropical boil from my clothes rubbing against my lower abdomen which looks dreadful but is now recovering. It’s hard to keep clean and any cut or abrasion needs to be carefully looked after to avoid infection. I got through a lot of plasters and disinfectant.
- Toilette – the delightfully named ‘bum jet’ or hand operated hose is everywhere and we use it.
- Showering – sometimes several times a day. Before we ride, after and then before we sleep.
- Shaving – I still shave daily as any beard would be intolerably in the heat, becoming smelly and dirty.
- Toe and finger nails – they still grow like crazy. We bought some anti-fungal treatment to sort wonky fingernails which we keep forgetting to put on.
- Hair – still growing although it got so ridiculously messy I had to have a trim a month ago.
- Laundrettes – there aren’t any although an Airbnb had a washing machine which we made use of.
- Medicated talcum powder – just run out and need to get some more.
- Sun cream – as before and we’re really having to use here. The sun can be fierce and for a while I rode in long sleeves. I’ve silly suntan lines nevertheless.
- Moisturiser – Just running out of Vaseline which I’d thought would be easy to find anywhere. Not in Vietnam where it’s strawberry flavoured and pink to be used on lips.
- Teeth – as before but we’re experimenting with a Vietnamese brand of toothpaste called ‘PS’.
- Underarm deodorant – yes and this is the only luxurious scent we wear. It reminds me of a story about the early space astronauts on the Apollo missions who were so sensory deprived that the lemon scented helmet wipes were cherished and saved. I love deodorising.
- Thermal drinking cups – we’re not carrying them but drink loads of water from our bidons.
So far we remain fit and healthy. Cambodia here we come.