A day of two halves. Swapsies. Relegation. Sensory overload. Valley lows and mountain highs. The story of Day 9.
As an ex footballer used to say, 'it was a game of two halves' this saying was used to convey the first half was very different to the second. Well, today we definitely had a day of two halves.
It was a glorious morning in Hoi An as we checked out of the hotel hospital and slowly rolled past the old town, over the river and through magical little villages full of people greeting us with huge smiles, loud hello's, and the occasional high risk high five. As we stopped at a local coffee shop I saw a little boy admiring my bike and I knew what I had to do, it was a tough decision as I love my bike, (we have been through a lot together already) and I know I have to still have to climb mountains and cycle a minimum of 550km but I knew it was the right thing to do, so, like a kid in a playground with panini stickers, I made the swap of the century.
As I chatted to Mike we started to ride on a rough piece of gravel road, as usual I went to grab my water bottle to take a drink but I slipped, my handlebar turned left, collided with Mike's and in a recovery Lewis Hamilton would have been proud of we both managed to stay on our bikes, with a fair amount of adrenaline pumping through the veins I rode towards Mike to say sorry and immediately did it again, after careful consultation within the kangaroo court I was rightfully demoted to the back of the pack to serve my punishment, and boy was it a punishment!
We carried on riding at a good pace, passing through beautiful small towns which straddled a lake on one side and the inviting cold blue sea of the ocean on the the other.
At this point I was happily propping up the group at the rear. We then headed into some wonderful countryside, beautiful farms and quaint villages scattered across the hot Vietnamese countywide.
The smell of water buffalo poo and horse manure filling the country air. I was taking it all in with all of my senses, trying to capture mental pictures of the wonderful surroundings we were in, and then one of my senses went into overload. My sense of smell suddenly went into hyperdrive and my sense of sight started to fade, a different scent has started to fill the air, sniffing to determine what it was and with my eyes starting to water I suddenly knew, it was the very distinct smell of a human who had consumed too much pork belly the day prior ... It was a Disgrace, an absolute assault to the senses and frankly far too severe a punishment for my earlier indiscretion. So I pleaded to the court for a reprieve, accusing Jon of creating unacceptable scent mists for cyclists. As the two other members were gliding through the said invisible mist of disgrace, they quickly agreed that Jon should be relegated to the back out of harms way. Jon has now been banned from pork belly for the rest of the ride.
With my ability to smell, see and speak restored, and my mind firmly on the celebration in HCMC, and my first cold beer in a couple of weeks, I started to pitch Jon an advertising campaign idea for the big beer brand in Central Vietnam, Huda Beer. It is exciting!! We are pushing the boundaries and I think we have found a perfect sweet spot for this brand in Central Vietnam, the campaign is now WIP and we will update this blog with the first visual by the end of the tour...
We finished the morning ride having completed almost 70km, excellent progress and on track for a 120 to 140km day. To avoid National Highway 1 and to get us closer to Kon Tum we jumped in the van for a 2 hour transfer.
6 hours later we were still in the van. My bottom so painful I had to stand up in the van as we drove. With light fading fast and a storm on the horizon my hopes of completing +100km were fading. We decided to jump out of the van in a mountainous valley in the middle of nowhere to ride for the last hour of light. As soon as we stepped out of the Van the heaviest monsoon rain soaked us, whilst it was going to be a little dangerous riding in the mountains in monsoon rain we decided we would be careful but get on with it. We pulled the bikes out of the van only to find both Aji and Mike had punctured tires, disaster! As I looked into the van through the heavy rain I'm sure I saw Jon with his little pinky finger up to the side of his mouth. :)
Frustratingly we decided to call it a day and headed to our hotel in Kon Tum, the afternoon had been terrible and painful (but with beautiful mountain scenery) but as Ronnie told me last week, expect something to go wrong but as you now have credits in the kilometer bank you'll be fine. Today was that day where it went wrong.
We had been travelling in the van ten minutes when suddenly my day took another turn, my mood was transformed from valley lows to the peak of mountain heights, with the pain in my bottom suddenly disappeared too! We had received our largest single donation to date, 200 million VND!! equivalent to 9,000 USD, an incredible amount of money and an incredibly generous and kind donation which will save the lives of at least 7 children who desperately need help. With this amount, in total we will now be able to fund life saving heart surgery for 58 children. We have almost raised 70,000 USD, it is incredible. To everyone who has donated, thank you so much, on behalf of the families of the children and on behalf of Heartbeat Vietnam thank you, every single donation makes a massive difference as these children and their families cannot afford the cost of the surgery they need, they need our help and every single donation does that.
Thanks to Mike for the photos as I haven't had a chance to review my GoPro. Tomorrow we start at 5:45 and will ride to Daklak, hopefully we get a full day in, I achieve 1,200km in total and critically the air is only filled with the smell of coffee plantations and pine trees!
Thanks for making a difference and helping to save a life this year.