Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Day 3 - Cam Thuy to Yen Cat

Day 3...

Centuries of human existence,
Prodigy and fate intertwined in conflicts,
Mulberry fields turned into open sea,
Enough has been seen to melt the heart.
Little wonder that beauty begets misery,
For Blue Heaven's jealous of exquisite glamour!
-       Nguyen Du
Beauty certainly begets misery, a country for some, a war for others, beauty for all.  Cam Thuy, It was truly a difficult town to leave. 

Woke in the morning around 5:30 am, not due to noise, but to the lack of it, gone were the sounds of hectic traffic in Hanoi and of the catcalls and late night dub-step debauchery of Cho Ben: I had experienced something new in over three years in Vietnam: Silence. 

After packing my bags in the van I headed out for coffee.  I ran across an elderly man who was opening shop, he owned the local apothecary, his name was Van.  After having a pleasant chat with him in shockingly good English ( he reminded me of my Pilipino friend Geoff, doing an impersonation of his grandfather, if that helps, it probably doesn’t) , I left to have breakfast with the rest of the team, but not before promising him that I would see him next year…(H2H 2016?)  Breakfast was the usual, soup, either Pho or Bun Bo, it doesn’t really matter at this point as long as it has calories and won’t make me sick; I am happy.

I returned late, missing the team stretches ( I ran into Van on the way back and he wanted to talk more, I know the previous description doesn’t work for most - lets liken him to Mickey Rooney in breakfast at Tiffany’s, but you know, not in an offensive way).  My riding buddy Pocket Rocket/Maple Muff/Carolyn was getting anxious; she was ready to go.  Go we did.  Go we must.
So we journeyed forth from Cam Thuy to Yen Cat, putting the lovely Appalachian looking town of Cam Thuy to our blackened posteriors and bronzed calves.

The scenery on day three was profound; the primeval karst rock formations gave way to bluffs and rice paddies encapsulated by distant mountains… It would make Dawkins religious….It would make a politician keep a promise.  Sometimes in life there are so many awful things that make you feel like you cannot go any further, beauty is like that too; I’ve seen it.  Cam Thuy, if god rested on the seventh day, may he have rested with you?

Powering through, we stopped for lunch, after about 50 kilometers, having some of the best Bun Bo I’ve ever tasted.  After lunch we were all set to hit the pavement with gears shifted low and heads held high,  but not without an impromptu sexy dance party involving Carolyn, Issac and myself.  With locals bemused and Tat excited by our performance, we carried on.

We arrived in Yen Cat, much earlier than we anticipated due to a hill that never came.  The entrance to the town was supposed to be proceeded by an arduous 12 kilometer climb that frankly was neither, much to our relief. 

After showering and sink washing our gear in the sinks, we met down in the lobby.   A few beers and some booty-licious coffees later, we heard that Thea thought the hills were like acid, forever rolling up and down gently dipping you into the places that you both wanted and needed to be. 

A few of us went exploring, Yen Cat didn’t have much to offer, in fact, it felt a little bit like correspondence photos from North Korea; it was grey, desolate.  We came upon a small group of children playing football and Chinese jump rope with a rubber band string.  We gave it a go, but even by using my height to cheat at the game ( by just stepping over and through), the game proved too difficult. 

We headed to the only watering hole in town for one beer, however we were greeted by a raucous group of young Vietnamese men who invited us to join them, not one to insult or turn down a few new friends we joined them to take photos and gulp down 100%-ers.  However they became a bit touchy in the literal sense, convincing themselves that Mr. Keith Landberger was the handsomest man they had met, we knew that they had had enough to drink and so had we.

At the team meeting we shared secrets and to our surprise and Claire’s disappointment we found that Ms. Thea’s secret was an unrequited attraction to Mr Keith.  We left the night tired and wondering what the hell was up with Yen Cat, where Keith was King and the cops were touchy (feely).  We tucked ourselves in with our “people bits” bruised…. But not blistered.  Well, not yet…

Day 3 (a bit belated) - Zach

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