Monday, 20 June 2005

Vietnam cycle, exploration of Dien Bien Phu

Monday, 20 June 2005

Awoke at 5:30am feeling good despite no dinner last night. The gate of the hotel was locked shut so could not get out for my run until it was opened at 6am. Jogged along the streets for 30 minutes, enough to keep the 'running memory' in my legs.

Showered and ate breakfast in the hotel as it was included in the room rate. It was a simple fare of fried egg, a bread roll with cheese, two bananas and an instant coffee.

Carolyne called with the Western Union details for me to collect cash from the bank. Was in the bank by 7:45am (banks open at 7:30am), and filled in the required form with carbon paper (every customer seemed to be doing the same). Customers were crowded around the counter. Then waited till 8:35am when I was led to an adjoining building, with a frontage on the street. The woman there took the documents and examined them very thoroughly. Waited another 15 minutes until she led me to an adjoining shop that was selling gold and silver jewelery, but seemed to be part of the bank. To my relief, the fellow there handed over the cash.

Bought two sua chua (small yoghurt) and bottled water. Great to be able to eat and drink again! Dropped into thank Dung for be so nice to me yesterday when rather down in the dumps, and gave him an Australian 50 cent coin. He explained that as well as being a hoyel receptionist he was a tour guide and would like to show me around at 2pm for no charge. I accpted the kind offer.

Went to a shop I'd come across yesterday that was able to dowload photos from my camera to my CD. After negotiation, shop agreed to 40,000D, and the process took only a few minutes, with me watching closely (don't want antone stuffing up my memory stick). Found the nearest

At 2pm met Dung and friend of his, Ninh, who accompanied us on a tour of the sights by scooter.
Hill A1. Museum. Heroes Cemetary. French commander's dugout.+

At 7pm wandered past the roundabout for three beers (2,000D) at a bia hoi, with two plates of beautiful nuts. While drinking, deleted my uploaded photos from my camera, much to the great enttertainment 0f a growing group of young women and chidren, numbering about eight by the time had completed the task. The only other patrons were three young policemen at a nearby table also drinking beer and eating nuts. Wrote up a temporary diary, as was habit, and this also a lot of interest as usual.

Walked 2 km to Lien Tuoi restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Was the only customer. A table cloth was laid, a first for Vietnam and a medium cold Tiger beer (15,000D). Ordered vegie soup (5,000D), vegies fried - a long green with lots of garlic (10,000D), and superb beef and noodle (35,000D). All very clean and good service, with the food served hot. Total cost of 65,000D was reasonable given the high quality.

As I was eating, a group of young people came down from upstairs, apparently the worse for wear, this was the first time that had seen this. Some young men were very red-raced. Then a young woman had to be helped downstairs and outside. Walked home, admiring the brightly coloured light displays outside the Heroes Cemetary and at the roundabout near my hotel.


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