Wow, What a Day
Only when the trill of the cicadas died away did I realise how loud it had been. Peace fell across the mountains with just a whisper of breeze passing through the bamboo forest. I sat shading from the sun beneath a tree near the top of the Da Deo Pass. The tree looked familiar, I am sure that a miniature version once graced the corner of my lounge back in the days when I lived in England. I gazed back down the hill looking for Phong but no sign, not surprising really as just 100 metres back the road drops abruptly giving way to a multi hued green wall of dense primeval forest. Most of the day we have been riding through the most stunning scenery I have experienced in a long time. We are now where the Ho Chi Minh Trail winds its way up into the Truong Son Mountain range that separates Vietnam and Lao. The hills are lime stone karst hills, the same as you see on the paintings in Chinese restaurants. Clinging to theses ancient wind and rain worn jagged spires are the triple canopies of virgin jungle, and winding through this, rising and falling gently is the Ho Chi Mind Trail. The climbs are easy going being of gentle gradient, the corresponding decently are perfect, allowing us to swoop down, gently sweeping and wending our way through this outstanding vista on a finely surface road light of traffic. Here the original Ho Chi Minh Trail splits, the western route crossing into Lao where some 70% of the Communist Vietnamese army’s supplies took the more remote route south past the De-Militarised Zone to supply their comrades in the southern Republic of Vietnam. We stop at a plaque by highway 12A that commemorates the split in the route, and here Phong and I continue south along the Vietnamese side, The Eastern Ho Chi Minh Trail.
From the day’s beginning on the shore of the lovely little lake in the middle of Huong Khe Town, along 20KMS of narrow winding rural road past farm workers tending buffalo and planting rice, to this stunning pieces of road offering not only breath taking vistas but also some incredibly rewarding cycling it has been a superb day’s cycling. Now, at the end of a wonderful day, I fancy it is time for a cold beer, or perhaps two.