Sunday, 19 June 2005

Tuan Giao to Dien Bien Phu 83 km, 625m ascent

Sunday 19 June 2005

Awoke 6am after fitful night worrying that may have insufficient funds to get me back to Hanoi. Towns in between may not have access to more. Showered and bought small orange (1,000D), 1.5l water (5,000D) and three bread rolls (3,000D) for breakfast. Ate these, with a mango from yesterday and Vegemite on rolls.

Paid for my room with 12 US$1 bills, making the proprietor quite upset. Have noticed that Vietnamese are extremely particular about the appearance of the notes you use.

Stopped for lunch at Muong Ang, the only small town along the way to Dien Bien Phu, before the major climb of the day. Enjoyed a lovely feed in a com pho near the market (have found that eating early is not a problem - eating late means cold food): a can of Coke; a bowl of rice; tofu in tomato sauce; a finely chopped green vegie in a clear soup; a plate covered with a long, green vegetable; a bowl of ca muoi (small olive-tasting vegie); and a plate of a salad of bean sprouts and mint. All this for the modest cost of 15,000D.

Soon out of town started the hard 7 km climb, winding back and forth around the hillside with the valley stretching below to my left. There was little other traffic. Through the pass, marked by a communications tower, the long, wide Muong Thanh valley stretched below me. The winding road soon had me at the Ron River. Thought I had completed the descent, but through rice paddies with many water buffalo and people threshing the rice, I twisted and turned through another 30 or more S bends.

A well-made four lane road signalled my arrival at a suburb of Dien Bien Phu. Was pleased to see a few ADSL Internet dotted among the variety of shops. The hotel recommended by Lonely Planet, the Binh Long, was close to the centre of town and I found it readily.


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