Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 2: Hoa Binh - Mai Chau

"Reality check"

Had visions of making it over the next pass today - another 50kms - but was absolutely shattered. Hunger flat, dehydrated and exhausted at various points of the day. Started the day with an 8km climb that felt similar to Kinglake but didn't get the reward of a similar length descent. About 55kms in I started the big climb - nearly 13kms that looked and felt like the top of Mount Hotham (little vegetation, cool and exposed).

One of the difficulties is not knowing the roads, and I was convinced half a dozen times that the next corner was the last (I was wrong five times...). Despite eating four bananas, breakfast and three litres of water I still ended up shabby. Lesson 1: eat more the night before. At least the hard work was worth it, with a great descent at the end of the day, down into the valley and a town called Mai Chau. Arranged to stay with a family in their stilt house - me and about 10 others (including an annoying baby that won't stop crying) sharing a huge rooom. Dinner, lunch and breakfast thrown in for US$10 - the lunch was sensational and hoping the rest of the menu is as good (breakfast pictured).

The weather hit 36 degrees today and impossible to stop sweating. I'm desperately trying to get more water in but I'm sick of drinking (for perhaps the first time in my life). Have a headache and prickly skin from dehydration, and relieved that I stopped when I did. On the bright side, it's Monday and I'm not at work....

Sitting at a roadside cafe where the only items for sale appear to be beer and water. I'm sure this young kid is trying to set me up with his sister. She doesn't look too keen, and her husband hasn't said much so I guess his enthusiasm is restrained. One of the things that's not possible here is peace and quiet. I intentionally came here because no one was out the front but now I've got a gaggle of people around expecting me to break into fluent Vietnamese at any moment. Not going to happen until I switch from water to beer soon.

Must have been a hard day for my watch as well - it just started leaking black fluid into the face. I couldn't understand him, but the watch repairer I found down a side street seemed to indicate the word `kaput' and read it its rites. Picked up a new one - off his wrist - it appears that watch repairers have a limited number of new items on hand....

Just sat down for a cup of tea (fitting in tea mecca in this part of the country) and finally eked out some peace and quiet. People still working in the rice paddies and I'm amazed by the resilience of these people with this back-breaking work. Feel a little guilty relaxing with a Bia Hanoi looking across the rice paddies (pictured). But only a bit.

1 comment:

dtazik said...

Who is that skinny guy??

Nice scenic...