The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/173860020
The chat: 5: 15am alarm (ugh), 50cents bowl of Banh Cuon from the market (mmm), and a super strong Cafe Viet and we were raring to go. 20km later we came upon an impromptu show and tell pet session in a tiny village – several children were playing with a large flying beetle that they had managed to attach to a string. A bit like a mini kite for those with limited resources, although not incredibly eco/kind it was rather impressive. Several demos/photos later, the children realised our appetite for non domestic animals on leads was clearly not satiated and dashed home to return with a monkey on a string. Slightly more bizarre, and considerably more difficult to justify to the RSPCA; we bid a hasty retreat before a polar bear on a lead was brought out for a photo op.
The rest of the ride was luckily uneventful as Andy was trying his best to weave around the pools of liquid tarmac generated as the road melted around us in the heat – it reached 45C on the road today which was pretty uncomfortable and pretty disappointing as we had hoped that North Vietnam would be misty and cool -instead it was 10 degrees hotter than in Saigon, 2000km further south! Luckily, today’s route promised an air conditioned hotel at the end, and iced coffees en route. Even more excitingly, when we crawled in to Lang Son in the afternoon heat we discovered that the town was much bigger than we expected, and had an amazing restaurant (called Van Thanh Lan Com Binh Dan and well worth seeking out if you happen to be near the Chinese border). Despite ordering more food than tables twice our size the bill for cold beer and 6 plates of spring rolls, sardines, spare ribs and Vietnamese curries was still less than a couple of sandwiches in the UK.