15th May – Dien Bien Phu – rest day

The photo:

Evening football under the watchful eye of Uncle Ho

The chat :

We woke at 5am to hear loud thunder claps echoing throughout the valley, followed by lightening bolts and a heavy downpour of rain and rolled over in bed smugly grateful that we had postponed our 100km ride on a dirt track. The rain continued as we dragged out a long breakfast of street side banh cuon (thin rice pancakes which you dip in soup – more exciting than they sound), and multiple cups of café sua chua (coffee with yoghurt – more delicious than it sounds). A wet and frustrating trip around about 20 dodgy jewellers shops followed in an effort to try and change some dong to dollars (crucial for our next morning border crossing into Laos, but strangely illegal in Vietnam), before the rain finally stopped. High on caffeine but with Dien Bien Phu offering little in the way of adrenaline activities, we headed to their museum for some communist propaganda thinly disguised as historical education. After a brief trip to the cemetery commemorating unknown Vietnamese soldiers (I know, we do have such fun on our rest days), we headed back to our favourite restaurant before an early night.

This rickety one speed was mainly made of wood and used to transport sacks of rice to the trenches – 350kg at a time. We are officially lightweights.

Cafe culture Dien Bien Phu style

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