Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Day 8: Dien Bien Phu – Muong Lai


110kms“Back in the zone”

I am now officially fit. Today was one of those rare days that looked bad on paper but actually felt like I hardly touched the pedals. Except for the two climbs of 4kms and 15kms respectively… Beautiful valley scenery as I followed the river, followed by remote mountain villages with amazing traditional dress (pictured). The only downside was the smoke which was unbelievably thick, the product of Vietnamese farming tactic of burning the hillsides to clear the land. Visibility was appalling and not sure what it is doing to my lungs.

Also had a bit of relief from the heat today, mainly because I was out early and beat the 35 degree max temperature. Managed some great potato and corn soup, washed down with a few beers, once I’d arrived at my guesthouse (best accommodation so far). Ended up spending the afternoon with French, Belgian and Irish travellers, which made for an entertaining night.

The Belgian couple (Magali and Filip) had driven from Tian Giou and said they saw an old cyclist on the road mid-afternoon. The roadworks were extensive and this guy finally turned up – to a standing ovation no less – at the guesthouse at about 8pm. He’d been riding for more than 12 hours, and turns out he is a 68-year-old Frenchman. I agreed to ride with him tomorrow because he was pretty demoralised by the past few days. Should be interesting.

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