Sunday, 23 April 2017

Day 19: Dance of the Butterflies

This ride marked the departure from the challenging yet relatively cooler and scenic mountains to the rolling hills of the central highlands.  Our ride was 63.8km and had an elevation gain of 453m (per my Strava App) so relatively easier though a warm 32°C.  I must say I will miss the mountains as they were the best segment of the trip.
In Plei Can we fueled up on Banh Xeo and Banh Mi to take us to our next destination.
The ride was relatively smooth and as usual I spent my effort near the lead trying to keep up with Oliver and stopping every 20-30km for sugar cane or juice of coconut.  The landscape reminds me of southern France because of the dryer conditions and the ocher in the soil.  The terrain was just rolling hills for the most part and the weather was hot and sunny--not the worst we had experienced.  There were only some towns to pass through, one having a war memorial, and pepper plantations became more numerous.  The butterflies started showing up en masse as well. It became surreal at times passing through swarms of medium sized butterflies (wear eye protection and keep mouth shut).

I gave up all hope of catching up when I had a flat tyre (I can only catch up if I have a significant straight on downhill segment). Two Vietnamese men stopped by the road side on their motorbike to help me change my inner tube. I have been impressed with similar acts of friendly kindness. I had run over fine wires causing two pin hole punctures.  This has been my first and only flat so far.  I should thank the team leader for recommending Gator Skins by Continental; they have held up better in these conditions.
Having replaced my innertube, I headed back on the road and said goodbye to my helpful friends.  I caught up with Rhiannon who had passed me while changing my tire.  We were only about 10km away from the hotel so we stuck together and followed Google maps to the hotel. Somehow we were the first to arrive so either others stopped or we took a short cut.  I immediately felt comfortable in the Kon Tum and the hotel Thinh Vuong. The hotel had a boutique feel to it and was set up like a proper hotel with hair dryers, towels, clean and all we can ask for. The town itself was also clean and neighbourhood like. A land mark in the town is the wooden church. Food options in this town were better than most.

--Andrew Bachmann

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