16 January 2012
Just like a day job. Wake up, wonder where you are, who you are, what it all means. Put on your work clothes, grab some breakfast, begin your commute. Today was little more than quotidian drudgery.
I'm glad I was creative with the route yesterday, as today presented few credible options for creativity. There was a potential short cut that at best might have saved seven or eight kilometres, at worst four. Not worth the potential loss of speed due to poor surface.
So, today was a boring grind along distinctly second-grade highway. Symptoms of a cold showed up last night, but hadn't worsened by morning - definitely not enough to defer riding. Last night's pizza piggery still felt like it was sat in my belly, but I still squeezed in some fried eggs, baguette with butter and jam and a black coffee for breakfast.
A late, long and slow roll out drags into a long slow highway cruise. Surface could have been better, but it was rideable. By the time I turn south after 53km or so, it's clear it's just going to be a long hot boring day in the saddle. I resolve to just grind through it, and try to think of ways to make it go more smoothly.
First idea is to grab some food. Another rice and pork chop plate does the job, this time with the welcome addition of a thin omelette with chives and a very healthy dose of coarse-ground black pepper. I'm offered some deep brown fluid from a bucket to drink but cowardly run from it towards a bottled lemon green tea drink.
Next tactic to pass time: caffeine break. I pull over at a café, and order an iced black coffee. I'm very excited that good coffee and tea drinks are available all the way down to Singapore.
Geezer from the café comes over to chat, completely unfazed by the fact we don't have a language in common. I manage to communicate today's route, as well as the overall plan - China's Vietnamese name is essentially pronounced the same as its Cantonese name, so that's pretty easy to remember. Everything else, I wing it on Chinglish and it generally seems to work out. They ask about the cost of my bike, give me a booster mug of ice tea, and are generally a amenable bunch. When I showed up, they were cleaning off the family ceremonial metalware, presumably for Tet.
The third boost comes without my intervention: I see the first bike tourists since I spoke to Kies the Dutchman just before hitting the Laos-Vietnam border. Yes, these are the first bike tourists I've seen in Vietnam - what does this imply about my choice of route? I easily overtake the pair of them, delivering friendly greetings. If I read the flag flying from the female rider's pannier rack correctly, they're French.
The problem with this sugar and caffeine diet is that it seems to be addictive. A few kilometres later I make a quick pitstop for a cold Pepsi. Usually I'd never touch the stuff, but this trip has definitely encouraged me to cave in to cravings. I down it in a couple of minutes and set out again, soon arriving in Rach Soi to make the right turn for the last few kilometres towards Rach Gia. Busy traffic. I can't find the place I'm seeking, so I chance it on a lo-fi guesthouse that's within budget, but unfortunately lacks WiFi. The lady managing the place is a great non-verbal communicator, which makes things go smoothly.
122km, 23.0km/h, 5hr18min, 4245km