Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Day 4: Yen Chau – Son La



Another tough day where I just couldn’t get going. Wasn’t helped when 5kms in I realised that I’d left my gloves behind – given what’s ahead I had to go back for them – and that fact that the first climb of the day was over 7kms in baking heat. The climb was the steepest yet, with long sections at 10%. Had to stop a few times on the way up to drink and rest – legs would not respond. Once at the top heat became unbearable and I was overcooking. Stopped for lunch in Moi Chau for a great fish meal (used my new found vocab in Vietnamese so I could get something other than beef soup).

On the road again and another 4km climb (pictured). As I crested I felt very, very ordinary and with 18kms to ride I had to pull over to a roadside stall and rehydrate and ingest a Red Bull. My heart was pounding and sweat dripping off me. I ended up falling asleep in the chair, and woke up 15 or 20 minutes later with a bemused crowd around me. Never done that before. An hour or so later I climbed back on, dreading the last stretch. Apart from some hills early on, I basically got a downhill run to town which was a victory. The place that I was going to stay in Son La was being demolished – not a ringing endorsement of its quality – and ended up at the Sunrise Hotel which seems OK.

The scenery today was pretty barren and reminded me of hilly parts of Turkey. Colourless and stark. To be honest, it could have been spectacular but I wasn’t taking much in due to the delerium. Forced myself to eat some more and have currently got a lemon shake in front of me. Had a failed attemp to get on the Internet (seems only games work here) and also had a cut-throat shave on the street. I’m hoping my over-heating is beard-related… Wishful thinking perhaps.

OK – it’s technically impossible to get a legitimate massage in this country. Organised a masseur through the hotel and as I took my shirt off she took hers off. It was the worst massage I’ve ever had – she had no idea what she was doing. In the end I gave up, leaving her disappointed by the fact that there was no action and no tip. And I’m still sore….

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