At first glance, the ride to Ea Drang is best forgotten. A hundred kilometers of road construction, dust, and hundreds of drivers vying for the title of least qualified to operate a vehicle.
Ask our riders about this day, however, and they'll most likely reminisce about it with a smile on their faces. It may seem odd, but the real highlight of the day took place early in the morning before we even got a chance to start on our planned route.
Our day started off with a short ride to the orphanage in Pleiku, where we had what turned out to be the best breakfast of the whole ride. As the sun rose and our bellies grew fuller, a heated debate broke out between the Commonwealth and British factions. The topic: how to correctly pronounce gouda. To this day, a consensus has yet to be reached.
As the controversial head of cheese grew smaller, it was time for the real treat: one last chance to spend time with the children. The sports hall was buzzing with excitement as we approached, and stretch leaders Claire, Natalie, and Tat had a very special session prepared for all of us. It didn't take long for things to start getting fun: after a few minutes of jumping jacks and running in place Claire had us all roaring like lions and squirming in place like a giant circle of worms. Quite frankly, I don't think the children really understood what was happening, but the giggles and laughs that followed each exercise told us they enjoyed every moment as much as we did.
As with all good things, our morning visit to the orphanage was much too short. After bidding farewell to the children and the nuns, we set off. With the laughter still resonating in our ears, we were ready for the day of hills, potholes, and dust ahead of us.