Another missive just received:
My room mate arrived at around 1 this morning... how did I know the time? Well because the door was flung open, light turned on and an announcement that she was here rang out....
Had a massive fail on setting the alarm and got up at 5 instead of six this morning....
But boy did the day get better, fab brekkie followed by Củ Chi tunnels and a superb lunch. Started cycling at about 1230 (following lunch) and I went great guns. Near the midde of the pack, overtook a few people and was just about getting the hang of the gears (lever instead of grip and positive displacement)... then 14 kms happened. Spots appeared in front of my eyes, I lost feeling in my hands. Then I was being manhandled onto a shady veranda by two of the Vietnamese guides and having an ice bath.... after I had recovered I cycled to the next stop (every 16 kms) and was ordered onto the bus for the next 16 kms.... the shame of it ... the first person retired to the bus.
After the 16 kms doc came to check on me and suggested I stay on but determined not to let a mere case of heat stroke stop me I jumped back on. Very glad that I did as I flew through the rubber plantation and heard the silence. Then I realised this was because there were no birds, insects or anything else. But still lovely even if eerie.
When we got back on the road I was invited to coffee by a lady on a scooter, unfortunately I had to decline.
So, the only way from here is up although I have cycled today the same as everyone else less 16kms. Feeling exhausted mostly from lack of sleep but hoping to remedy tonight. We leave Vietnam tomorrow and enter Cambodia.
Finally Mrs S.G... sorry I doubted you, the camelbak is essential and riding a different bike is hell. Bringing my own saddle was brilliant as the ones here were designed by Torquemada... they never expect the Spanish inquisition
I visited Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos in 2002. One of the things that really struck me about the countries was the indefatigable people, the welcome extended to visitors and the simple joy taken in small pleasures. But, having visited the Museum of the American War in Ho Chi Minh City, seen the 'Danger UXB' signs in Laos and read the good news headline in a paper in Cambodia: ' Deaths from UXBs down to 3 this month. Only 40 maimed.' I was acutely aware of the toll still being taken on the population.
Over the years I have pondered the munitions still there and this year I have finally decided to get off my bottom and do something. So I have, somewhat impetuously and with little regard for my physical fitness, cycling ability or dodgy left knee decided to join the MAG cycle ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Ankor Wat. I will be doing this the first week or so in Feb 2011 and it does involve a couple of days of over 100km in 30 degree heat. Having signed up I have been told that neither a rickshaw nor an electric bikes are options and that doing the distance on my own pedals is expected.
Donation link is further down on the right - I have paid for my own flights and contributed enough to cover living expenses so all money raised from sponsorship will go to MAG.
This is my blog of my progress to get on the road and when I am there - assuming I will be capable of rational thought after a day of unaccustomed exercise.