Tuan Giao to Dien Bien Phu
Thurs 5/12/13, approx 75km
Was asleep before 9 last night so I had no defence against the 5AM speakers when they started blaring. I could get pissed off with this...
Very cold and foggy start to the day, made the first hour or two of cycling interesting. I think it must be quite scenic leaving Tuan Gaio but I wouldn't bet on it. By 10AM though the sun had burned off most of the mist and I was in a valley a few hundred meters or more wide bounded by limestone karsts that loomed out of the mist and packed with flooded rice paddies waiting to be planted.
Slow going today as I took so many stops for photos. Around 11 I grabbed one the finest coffees I've had in quite a while on the outskirts of Muong Ang. When I came to pay I complimented the lady on the quality (pats tummy, goes "mmmmm", gives thumbs up while smiling) and the lady pointed out the guys washing beans just over the wall and the half kilo bags of their own coffee on sale. Ah, if only I weren't cycling for another four months of so! I should have been clued in as I'd seen coffee beans drying by the side of the road all day...
Straight after this I hit another mountain pass which climbed some 500m. At the top was a small cafe that was also cop HQ where I stopped for a cooling drink. Thought it'd be downhill all the way from there but I was wrong. Small sections of downhill combined with river valley for a bit then ravines as Dien Bien Phu approached, with a final nice run down towards town at a 10% gradient.
Bit of trouble finding the hotel, and ordinarily I'd have sacked it off however this is hopefully the hotel my new computer will be delivered to tomorrow.