Sunday, 27 April 2014

Day 18: Ngoc Hoi to Kon Tum - Bye Bye Mountains

Day 18 and we've got our routine thoroughly locked down. Our cycling life has definitely become normal now. Waking up at 6 with Jacqui and Natasha we perform the lycra wiggle needed to get into our cycling shorts (possibly clean or dirty, we don’t care anymore, they’re only going to get dirtier!). With various breakfasts in our bellies and DHL vans excellently packed we begin stretchy time with Mr McCance. Today Paul was the star student and got plenty of compliments for his excellent form. Bravo Paul.

After fixing Matt’s mandatory flat tyre we left Ngoc Hoi at 9. Today we said goodbye to the stunning mountains and hello to the bumpy construction filled roads. The team had been in a constant state of awe at the beauty of Vietnam’s peaks but today this was replaced with a new type of scenery and different side to Vietnam. We cycled from one small town to the next, many only one house deep either side of the road, along long stretches of construction and road works. It is always interesting to see development in process but for cyclists this meant we had plentiful potholes, large rocks and trucks to avoid.

At this point, riding 68km seems like a short day (compared to our 120km days) so Natasha, Caitlin and I took a break from the rough and jerky riding and happened to stop at a beautiful temple on the side of the road. After a few minutes of admiring the entrance a curious couple pulled up in their car and ushered us towards them for pictures on their I-pad, obviously we are just as much of an attraction as the temple behind us.

After our quick photo shoot we decided to adventure inside. A few more pictures and we hopped back on our bikes and headed towards lunch. It was on 11.30am but we made sure to fill our bellies up on Com Tam (rice, veg, egg, meat, soup). With our batteries charged up we set off with only 25km left.

However, the last 25km became quite action packed. With bad road conditions comes several hazards. Unfortunately, Helen had a hard fall on loose gravel but she got back up, cleaned up and was on her bike again shortly after. She now has the most colourful bruising I have ever seen. Not long after Danny McCance met with another obstacle and fell off, he called it a tree but other sources say it was more like a small log. His cut was not so impressive (sorry Danny).

Arriving safely in Kom Tum we split into our various hotel rooms. Today was especially exciting as we had two six person bedrooms. With most of the girls in one room we had a lovely bonding session away from the boys. Alongside this we witnessed Colette’s concern with ants, she felt it was necessary to put her helmet in the freezer…..

Danny Walsh took charge of dinner plans and found a western/Vietnamese restaurant famous for its wild boar. After treating ourselves to a nice glass of wine, numerous plates of chips and tasting nearly all of the boar dishes on the menu we headed back to the hotel for Andrew’s unforgettable culture night.  The team got even closer as we each took our turn to be blindfolded and led to three faces, using only our hands to guess the person. Of course forfeits were involved for incorrect answers. The number of beards present on this trip added a whole other challenge to the game.

Yet another memorable day with the H2H team.

Words by Annabel Cope

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