Friday, 1 May 2015

Day 21 - Ea Drang to Buon Ma Thuot (BMT)

With a motivated and thorough stretching of our Gluteus Maximuses we left the one road town of Ea Drang on the way to our final rest stop of Buon Ma Thout, the coffee capital of Vietnam.  This stretch of road was beautiful, but in an unremarkable way; much like that of a person remarking on the beauty of a cashier, after judging a modeling competition.  As shallow as that might sound, it is only because of the beauty we had already experienced, that I can say it with the utmost conviction and without any doubt.    
What did stand out from the ride were the road conditions, it was our first time riding on sticky tar, which if you haven’t done, I don’t recommend doing.   It gets everywhere, piercing lycra, saddlebags and gear sets alike, it is a new level of dirt and unpleasantness that can only be rivaled by the poor decisions of drivers that seem to be ubiquitous in larger Vietnamese cities (perhaps something a bit more challenging that a figure of eight is necessary to determine ones dexterity of piloting any sort of vehicle).  On a more positive note we hit a slight sloping twenty kilometer descent into BMT, which was much appreciated as we seemingly glided in like Vikings on the wings of Valkyries en-route to Valhalla, to feast on the plunder of our last rest day.
The Ede name translates as ‘Thuot’s father’s village’, but Buon Ma Thuot has outgrown its rustic origins without acquiring any real charm. An affluent, modern, but rather characterless city (pronounced ‘boon me tote’) it is inundated by traffic from three highways.” 
- Courtesy of Lonely Planet
While someone was a bit grumpy on their visit to Buon Ma Thout, The H2H team wasn’t.  With its wide sweeping boulevards and its entrance adorned with a much appreciated Co-Op mart (this rider needed rum and deodorant) and a Rolls/Tootz certified KFC, the team was in good spirits, much of which were to be purchased later and poured down parched throats.  Our final rest day was upon us, it was appreciated indeed, however with the ride nearing it’s close it was bittersweet; like the coffee BMT is known for, it was delicious albeit acidic, burning all the way up to the sub cockles of the heart.
After settling in to our hotel and performing the innumerable “S’s” that one becomes accustomed to when living on the road (showering, shaving, sink-washing kits and sleeping) the lads had a bit of a round table going, where we discussed rugby and the problems facing our world today; which if you’re a Brit the two often coincide.  We were shortly joined by Top Man Tootz and the rest of the team, at which point we piled into cabs and headed off to our first stop; a local BBQ joint. 
Simply put the meal was a bit of a blur.  I remember the food being great (even the vegetarian options, albeit even those had meat cleverly snuck in) and the service being better.  Ike was in common Papa-Bear form socks and shoes strewn about a chair while doing his cool down stretches in a Hawaiian shirt and waxing poetic about Wi-Fi passwords.  With our spirits soaring, inhibitions dulled and inebriation imminent we set off to experience Asian culture at it’s most distilled; in the form of a karaoke booth.
After being corralled into a “VIP” karaoke booth we did the impossible, drunkenly deciphered Vietnamese karaoke software in the hopes of finding songs we not only understood but knew.  George being a man of his years and paying no regard to Canada’s only war-crime, decided to play the Bryan Adams discography complete with B-sides for us to sing.  After quickly being rebuked for his poor decision making the night carried on the only way it could; with much table dancing, “seductive” stripping, unfortunate repeats of Oasis songs and team leader Steak providing us with an interesting interpretation of AC/DC’s Hells Bells.   The night, as it must, was finished off with a touching ballad of Bohemian Rhapsody, a cacophony of shouts and gestures that the all-knowing Karaoke machine awarded with a 98%. 

We got back to the hotel early for Saigon and not being tired we walked the streets of Buon Ma Thout. However, after a few kilometers of darkness, George our Brew-kowskian hero of the cool night decided he had had enough and headed back, defeated by the lack of BMT’s nightlife while Carolyn and I walked well into one of the final mornings of the ride.
Words - Zach Kester
Pictures - Chris Rolls

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