The route is peaceful, the road narrow and very pretty all the way to Can Tho.
There is plenty along the way to see, from the contrasting architectural styles of ethnic Khmer homes, to the numerous colorful Khmer temples and to the fascinating river scenes witnessed when pedaling over countless small wooden plank bridges. Visit Ba Om Pond with its magnificent lotus flowers, and observe local women having their future predicted in the small temple nearby. En route, spend time at a local Khmer Temple School and learn about the life of the students.
Cycling distance: 82 km
Today has was a hard days cycling. We did 52 miles and the heat was up to 34 degrees. We averaged about 10 mph and were cycling for nearly 5 1/2 hours. That’s a long time in the heat and it really took its toll on me towards the end. It was really tough grinding out the last few miles.
I’ve just woken up from an hours sleep after arriving at the hotel and am still feeling very drained. I want to get this blog done before I go out as I doubt I’ll be bothered later. Also so that Lorraine can help me edit it during her lunchtime rather than in the evening. Thanks as always Lorraine, this wouldn’t happen without your help.
So back to today. Sleep last night was ok, apart from being woken by a stupid barking dog at 3.30! The rock hard mattress didn’t stop me getting back to sleep either. I not keen on the air-con on at night as it’s either too cold or too hot – why does the bed always seem to be in direct line of the cold air blasting out?
Breakfast was as Thai had described. We had rubbery eggs, noodles and vegetables and a bit of baguette too, which is a local bread as a legacy of previous French rule. It was enough for me and coffee was grim – so strong the spoon nearly stood up in it!
Checking out of the hotel at 8am, I paid something like £2.50 for all of my laundry! First we cycled a few miles through town to a Buddhist temple, which was interesting but not spectacular. Thai explained that a lot of people at some time in their life become a monk, for say 3 months, as a way of being thankful for their life and out of respect to their parents. But he thought the true religious meaning behind it was becoming eroded.
The roads, paths and “concrete ribbon” soon changed from coconut palm grove to paddy fields. The trail was narrower still and at times the edges of the fields seemed to grow over the concrete. But it is still a two-way road and we have to be constantly aware of others going to and fro as well as keeping an eye out for the cracks and holes in the roads.
The villages, house and schools are all starting to look the same but are still fascinating. Due to the palms, trees and other plants growing so thickly you don’t see the next house or property until you pass it. The paddy fields are of course more open but there are a few buildings in the fields.
The paths today were through almost constant shade and wet or damp underfoot. Some very windy with quite sharp turns, however some roads were so straight and long you couldn’t see the end of them.
When rock or concrete is wet it often gets a bit slippery on the surface and that’s what it was like for part of the day. The bikes easily slid away from underneath us if we were not very careful. As a result there were a few cyclists down, DB x1, RP x2 and AS x2 (not sure if that’s counting the one right at the beginning at the temple going up a sandy slope in the wrong gear!?). (*) No one was badly hurt but a bit scraped and bruised. I had one skid but managed to hold it together. After that we all took more care but it was tough on what seems like a 2 ft path of concrete with trees and mud at the edges and other bikes and scooters needing to be avoided too! I’m not complaining because it’s still spectacular but this was totally unexpected.
It was so very hot. We stopped for plenty of hydration breaks but the sun seemed relentless. However, saying that, it’s not as hot as last years ride in Israel but all the same it feels really extreme. I knew I’d struggle with the heat and despite drinking plenty and eating enough, we all find it is sapping our energy.
The rest breaks are set up ahead by the bus and van drivers, Mr Long and co. They provide bananas, watermelon, mango, nuts, lovely cold lime juice, water, pringles and rice bars, which is a pretty good variety of nourishment. Today Thai showed us how to dip the mango into salt to supplement our energy/salt levels. It was ok.
Lunch was at about 35 miles and it was a relief to get out the heat. I pour water over my head and shoulders to cool down. The food was again good, rice, fish, beef with beans, omelette and more fruit and water. No one had any of the soup with prawns in!
Getting going after we eat is always hard and today was no exception. We were now on wider single tarmac trail and again some sections were long and straight. We had another ferry crossing on a ramshackle boat but the river was only about 50 metres wide and it was over quickly.
I had another skid on one of the many small bridges we crossed when I tried or go from the loose wooden slats in the middle onto a flatter section towards the edge (probably for people to walk on). My rear wheel didn’t make it up on to the flat plank and I had quite a wobble, but even though I unclipped a foot to steady myself, I recovered the situation and managed to carry on. It got my adrenaline going though!
Because the roads are narrow we cycle single file. For some reason RR has positioned himself at the front behind Thai (strange that!) and for a lot of today he was followed by KC, AS then me, RP and DB. There is no set order but that’s the way it generally looks. I’m still not pushing the pace very much at all and am happy to plod along as I feel comfortable. We are all only ever a minute or so apart, often closer.
I was so relieved to finish today and get in the coach for a half hour transfer to a lovely hotel. It took me a while to cool down and then I slept for the rest of the way. A welcome quick neck and shoulder massage whilst waiting for our keys was most acceptable!
We have a similar days riding tomorrow but go on a boat transfer to a floating market first then have a 2 hour transfer at the end. It’s our last day cycling in Vietnam before we cross into Cambodia and is sure to be memorable again – but hard work!
That’s it from me. I’m sure to have missed out many details but I’m now going out to see a bit of the town. Even though I don’t really feel up to it, it would be silly not to go in and see. We are in the regional capital of Can Tho. About 1 million people live here and 600,000 in the city. It’s a big place.
We can’t believe Trump was elected either!
Before the next trip I need to learn how to get hotel air conditioning to do what I want. AAAGGGHHH!
Stats Day 4
- 53 miles
- 10mph av
- 5.5 hours
(*) Alan’s explanation of falling cyclists!
Near the buddhist temple, disappointed that we hadn’t visited a beach so far, I decided to play in the sand when I miscalculated the angle of a small sandy ridge and the bike stopped but I didn’t. Thankfully it was a very soft landing this time.
Some of the bridges were steeper and tougher to negotiate and occasionally appeared without warning as we turned a corner. I literally came within second off toppling off one, over the low railings and into the river because it appeared as soon as we’d made a sharp right hand turn and I had no time to change down into an easier gear. Thankfully my legs were just about strong enough to get me up and I just about made it.
David on the other hand, whilst riding with one hand and videoing with the other (as you do??!!) came off as he turned the corner and realised there was a bridge there. I think he even managed to partially film himself falling off which should be amusing to see.
Not wishing to be outdone Richard P decided to fall off twice in five minutes which frankly is just attention seeking.