Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 6: Tuan Giou - Dien Bien Phu

"Shaken but not stirred"

Another gruelling day made so more by the road condition and headwind than the terrain. That said, there was hardly a flat stretch all day and a monster 8km climb at the halfway mark. Set off at 7.30am and had a near catastrophe - one of the fasteners that attaches to my right pannier came off and flew into a ditch on the side of the road. Stopped to look for it and soon had a team of searchers, led by an older guy who lived nearby. Miraculously found it and even the bolt that attaches it was discovered. I gave the old guy 10,000 dong (80 cents) and he looked like he'd won the lottery.

Back on the road after a quick mechanical check, and the roads quickly turned to the broken asphalt, rocks and silt of the day before (pictured above). The roads were so bad I spent all but a few kilometres with the suspension turned on. Before the major climb I stopped for lunch (not sure what it was - didn't want to ask), and gave the two young girls that worked there a couple of kangaroo keyrings I'd bought from home. The less said about the climb the better, with a howling headwind, steep gradient and sapping heat. The dust was also unbelievable, with visibility down to zero when a truck passed (pictured below).

Yesterday's effort certainly took a toll on me, but I managed to grind my way through. Had a big moment on the descent when I hit a section of deep silt at 40kph going into a bend. Just hung on to it. Pedalled into Dien Bien Phu feeling satisfied but tired. Will be good to leave the bike in moth balls tomorrow with a rest day planned. They offer Thai massage and it looks legitimate so will give it a go. At least she kept her shirt on.

Met an Australian couple on arrival and have organised to meet them for a beer. Chris is a Vietnam veteran so will be interesting to his perspective on things. Dinner with Chris and Helena was great. They're from northern NSW and both great characters. They run Harley Davidson rallies back home. Chris' verdict on the war was that Australia was fighting on the wrong side, and he sounds like he's had a tough time since being drafted as a school teacher. He came back to Vietnam for the first time two years ago and thinks this will be his last trip - "for therapy". He also regaled me with some great stories, including his motorbike accident while on the way to a bondage club. "I looked up at the ambulance officer and knew he was wondering why all these whips and implements were scattered over the road". For dinner we had the miscellaneous hot pot - couldn't resist - and the main ingredient appeared to be snake though most other morsels were anonymous.

1 comment:

dtazik said...

This trip is geeting a little surreal. Half naked massuers and bondage affectionados!!