Monday, March 16, 2009

Kon Tum to Buon Me

We all decided that after 2 rides in the dark, we should start earlier, so we were all packed, dressed, fed and on the bus by 7.30 am. We drove a short distance to ****, where everyone got saddled up for our morning ride. However, after yesterday's ride, I had lost my confidence, and elected to sit on the bus as the rest of the group rode through crazy traffic. A word on the traffic; Hanoi was busy, and I expect Ho Chi Minh to be busy too, but the country areas are just as dangerous.. There may not be as many cars and bikes, but the roads are usually wide enough for only 2 cars. So when one overtakes the other, they are occupying the 2 lanes.... squashing us over to the right. EVERY truck, car and bike honks at us, as they do to anything they pass.
I think I have finally figured out that the Vietnamese are actually good and courteous drivers. There is no road rage here. and though they never stop when at an intersection, they 'merge'. We must always go around the back of them. I look a bit like a battered wife after my big fall, and that information could have saved me from my bruising.
Anyway, after the group's first stop, I decided that I had better get back on the bike or else I never would, so I saddled up and off we went. We started the ride off the road on a red rocky stretch that accompanied the road; it was real mountain bike riding. Fred, Chris and I have now accepted that we are the slowest of the group, but we don't care. Fred and Chris are in their 6os, and Fred and I have Parkinson's. and it is NOT a race!
I must mention here that the 3 of us with Parkinson's are very proud of each other, and we encourage and look out for each other whenever we can. Brendan is doing fantastically by keeping up with the pack, and riding the whole time. Fred's determination is only marred by his
Parkinson's, and he usually attempts all rides until he can't go on any more.
We rode into ************ where there was a market on... a real country market, where food, clothes and household items were being sold
We were treated to many interesting sights.... ducks who looked drugged, sitting quietly waiting their fate (sorry, kids, not as pets), piles of interesting looking eggs, of varying sizes and hues; many spotted, buckets of fish such as catfish.... I couldn't even look at the meat on the tables, flies all over it. And one can only imagine the smells...
After lunch, we set off for the afternoon ride. By now I had regained my confidence, and made a new "best" friend." My new friend is Ngoc, who is the Vietnamese rider designated to stay at the back with the last riders. Chris, Fred and I now wait for Ngoc, as we are`almost always at the rear.
The afternoon ride was an uneventful one, the highlight being a few of us girls bonding in the 'Happy bush" at a coffee plantation...
I managed to do all the ride this afternoon, but it started to get dark again, so I got on the bus, only to find that Hilly had collected the rest of the riders early so that no one had to ride in the dark. we drove into Buon Me Thuot, but I can't tell you anything about it, as it was dark when we arrived and we ate at the hotel.

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