Monday, 17 April 2017

Day 11: Baked Alive

On the 'Hue' to Hue, a historic city in central Vietnam that was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802–1945, we dressed in the H2H traditional Hawaiian shirts.
A major attraction is its vast, 19th-century Citadel, surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. It encompasses the Imperial City, with palaces and shrines; the Forbidden Purple City, once the emperor's home; and a replica of the Royal Theater.

Fortunately/unfortunately our accommodation in Dong Ha was so comfortable and cozy that it was rather difficult to get out of one of nicest beds encountered on the entire ride. Of course, we also hadn't completely learned our lesson from the previous day's cycle so we didn't hit the pavement until nearly 9 AM. "But hey, it's a short day," we said. We would soon regret our bad memories and lazy limbs.

Luckily the route was indeed short, around 73 KM, as well as being almost perfectly flat, save 30-odd meters of climb which somehow snuck in during the day.

The ride was almost entirely devoid of any type of noteworthy scenery which lead to a blazing hot 41° C day with nothing to distract you from the furnace that Vietnam can become in April. That, coupled with the crushing depression brought on by hours spent baking on hot asphalt with the Sun just meters away, nearly literally sucked the life force from your exhausted body.

The only real positive thing to happen this day was happening upon a stop so terrible we forced ourselves an additional kilometer to an oasis full of hammocks, nuoc mia, coconut water, and the most friendly Vietnamese woman of any roadside stand thus far.
This woman was a champ, crushing sugarcane and chopping coconuts like a pro. She was the best part of a tough day.

My sincerest wish to all, from this miserable day forward, is to not even think a single ill word when you see folk in the countryside having a snooze on a hammock in the middle of the day. You know nothing of pain, you know nothing at all.

Our arrival in Hue was bittersweet. We were finally in this glorious city with proper food, accommodation, nightlife, and numerous historic sites steeped in beauty and intrigue, yet we were all so exhausted. Instead we opted to head to the nearest resto (DMZ ftw) to gorge ourselves and drink something cold. That's me below, chillin' hard.
All was not lost however, as our hotel was quite posh. It had a modest pool and even a bath tub to soak achy bones! Everyone seemed well ready for a rest day though not too many shenanigans ensued that evening, just a solid frisbee toss in the pool followed by a restful and deserved sleep to ready ourselves for what would be a great rest day in a wonderful city.

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