Sophie and I have taken a break from the intense heat, frequent thunderstorms, and ungodly climbs of the central highlands. After a week where we both basically just ran into a mental and physical wall, we made the choice to ride quickly for the coastal city of Da Nang. Da Nang is the largest city we’ve been in since Siem Reap some 900km ago.
I don’t think either of us realized the toll that the last month has taken on our bodies until Sophie looked at me one night during the three day rest we ended up taking in Dak Glei due to my dehydration and fever, and just went “Damn, Bryan. You’re really skinny.” It’s hard as a touring cyclist to keep yourself adequately fed in rural Cambodia and Vietnam. Even harder than in Patagonia, to be honest. Over the last month, we just haven’t been able to get enough protein, or food in general really, to maintain our strength week in and week out. Over time, it just wore us both down.
I mentioned in the last post that we had a nasty day of climbing coming up, and what a day it turned out to be. 4500ft total, and a final 2km climb that had both of us feeling a little overheated and disoriented. That evening, we limped into town and discussed letting go of our delusion of grandeur to do the rest of Vietnam to Hanoi in the mountains. Maybe if we were starting from Vietnam. Maybe if we had reliable water, or could more confidently say that one of us won’t get sick again. But we can’t really say that, so now we’re in Da Nang and eating our weight in fried chicken.
The ride through the highlands was at times jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It seemed as though there was no end to the spectacular views and pastoral farming scenes. But that being said, it was about 3000-4500 feet of climbing every day, and we were just getting started. The heat required us to drink about 5-6L of water every day, which basically ruled camping out of the equation without my Steripen. Additionally, the vietnamese staples (pho soup and banh my sandwiches) just don’t have the protein to keep you riding for weeks at a time. The obvious solution to this would be to buy your own food at a minimart, but good shops are few and far between, and you are overcharged for every piece of (mostly air anyways) prepackaged food that you buy. Asian packs of instant noodles are better than their American equivalents, but again, not much protein and we get them overpriced.
After so long out in the sticks, Da Nang feels like paradise. There are restaurants, western food, and full supermarkets. We were tired of the constant gawking. The triple and quadruple takes. The people who just stop and just stare intently at us, hoping we’ll do a trick. The motorcyclists who slowly follow us for 1-2 km snapping pictures and giggling while we’re huffing and puffing. Even the kids who give us a constant barrage of greetings got a little old after awhile.
Onwards. My KFC requires my attention.