With the heatwave forecast to peak today, after the 7 hours plus on the road yesterday, and with the prospect of another tough day to Ba Be for our next stop, we decided on an impromptu rest day.
Deviating from the laugh-a-minute nature of this blog, time spent sheltering from the sun in cafes today rammed home to me just how many young people smoke in Vietnam. Communal pipes are ubiquitous in eating and drinking establishments, and almost all men and many women smoke these, or cheap, bad cigarettes as a matter of course. More than 50 years after the incontrovertible relationship between tobacco and lung disease was established, and with the Western world still in the clutches of the resultant delayed epidemic of avoidable disease, it is an absolute travesty that governments and the international community at large allows advertising and selling of tobacco products to vulnerable, naive, uneducated people. And anyone else for that matter. So there.
Although Cao Bang isn’t the most exciting of towns, with blogging, emailing, eating, coffee drinking and buying amusingly named snacks, we filled our time without difficulty. I could claim we took time out to visit Cao Bang museum, or strolled up to the poignant war memorial in the late afternoon, but I’d be lying. As would I be if I claimed we sought out a new spot for dinner. Lonely Planet slaves we were, eating at the one place they recommended in town. It was great too – ice cold beer, spicy spare ribs, cabbage stuffed with unidentifiable meat, and deep fied fish with ginger and chillies. Mmmm…