Monday, 9 November 2009

Somewhere in that skinny part

Day 8 of cycling is in the books. What was supposed to be a relatively easy 50 kilometer day was made difficult by road construction, the heat and another missed turn up a mountain. It seems like every time we go the wrong way we make a massive ascent. We're now in Dong Le in Vietnam's central highlands, somewhere in the skinny part of the country not too far from the border with Laos.
It looked like rain when we set off from Huong Khe this morning, a town where a couple locals told us they'd never had so many foreigners in their town before. We made an afternoon out of eating bun cha and putting down beers by a statue of Uncle Ho. Good times.
The people here are incredibly friendly, but all the attention is starting to get tiresome. You can't go anywhere or do anything without attracting a crowd and a multitude of "hellos." I'm used to being a circus freak of sorts to be gawked at, and I understand it's part of being a foreigner in Vietnam, but sometimes you just want to be left alone.
We've had better luck with the food, but the options are really limited in these small towns.
We've all become really fond of our amazing driver, Bac. He's quick to fix a grumpy chain or a flat tire. When we're having trouble with the route, he drives ahead and parks the van so we know where to go. He even knows which bag belongs to each of us and packs them and removes them from the van. When we're too spent, he fills up our water bottles. He has a hammock he carries around and sets up when he needs some lounge time. Plus, he has an amazing smile. We are planning a big karaoke night for Bac at some point. We obviously wouldn't be this far and doing so well without him.
It kind of hurts to sleep on my front because my thighs and quads are so sore. Going up hills yesterday, they felt like they were going to burst. But we've all become conditioned to the aches and pains. The pain isn't as piercing as it was a couple days ago, but getting up in the morning or after a long sit is accompanied by a grimace.
Just four more days of cycling until our day off!

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