Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 75 Fri 10/09 - Hill Slope Camp to Sapa

Today Distance : 12.3 km    Total : 3990.5 km
Today Weather : 25 - 32C   Sunny with Mountain Cool breeze
Time on Bike : 1 hr  58 min
Ave Speed : 6.2 kmh   Max : 30.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 5%    Max : 11%
Today Spend : 393000vnd    Total : 9403000vnd

It took me 2 hours of continuous climbing for the last 11 km and finally I am in Sapa. As expected no downhill as Sapa is located at an altitude of 1500m above sea level, Southwest 7 km lies the roof of Indochina and the highest peak in Vietnam, the Fansipan 3143m. Due to its beautiful and stunning mountains sceneries,coolness in temperature and the ethic minorities of black H'mong,Dao,Tay with their colorful traditional dress, Sapa is very touristic. Lots of hotels,shops and restaurants in town. Foods and drinks are expensive, but the hotel rates are quite reasonable due to a very competitive market. Cat Cat Hotel where I stayed has a vey big clean room for 7 usd.I was a clear potential target when I rode into the town, many hotel runners came to approach me " Sir, do you has a room?" and my priority is reasonable rate 1st and then follow to view the room. I was quite satisfied on my first try and booked for 3 days and got a discount of 2usd. I love this place, just relax may be to visit some hill tribes villages, before back track to Lao Cai. I had climbed all my way up here, and certainly I won't want to miss the DOWNHILL!!!!

Day 74 Thu 09/09 - Lao Cai to Camp 11 km to Sapa

Today Distance : 26.0 km    Total : 3978.2 km
Today Weather 26 - 39C     Sunny with night rain
Time on Bike : 3 hr  37 min
Ave Speed : 7.1 kmh   Max : 41.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 6%    Max : 16%
Today Spend : 79000vnd    Total : 9010000vnd

Too over-optimistic resulted in today's surprise camping 11km short to Sapa. My estimation is to reach Sapa early in the day and check in a guesthouse to relax a bit. But the mountain is too big and long, seems never-ending of continuous climbing, and I had no idea how long this climb will go on, whether there is a downhill? So the best option is to camp and enjoy the mountain views of terrace paddy fields and start fresh tomorrow morning. There are numerous good campsites, grassland flooring,mountain stream water for washing. Luckily I still has some rice to cook, a can of beef in tomato sauce and 2 slices of pork saucers for dinner. The scenery is best so far in Vietnam.
Start of the climb from Lao Cai

Another new road on the way
Rest stop at a bend
Road make its way in between hugh mountains

They are the kings of the road
Z-section of the climb up ( can u spot the bus?)
River flowing at the bottom of the valley
Paddy fields
Kid look very unhappy
Serious looking black H'mong hill tribe
Good view on the mountain
Camp just at the egde of the slope
Mountain stream water nearby
Cooking at 1100m
My camp dinner

Day 73 Wed 08/09 - Pho Rang to Lao Cai (Border to Hekou in Yunnam,China)

Today Distance : 82.9 km        Total : 3952.2 km

Today Weather : 27 - 41C Sunny and Hot all Day
Time on Bike : 5 hr 08 min
Ave Speed : 16.1 kmh       Max : 54.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 3%     Max : 9%
Trip Altitude : 592 m     Max : 336 m
Today Spend : 339000vnd         Total : 8931000vnd

Arrived in Lao Cai 5 pm which is the northern border city to Hekou in Yunnam Province,China. Separated by the Red River on one part of the river and the other part is all belong to Vietnam. A new bridge is currently being built to replace the steel bridge connecting both sides of Lao Cai.It's another hot day on the bike, more climbs on the 1st 30 km, I was feeling so hot and thirsty, I finished a 2.2kg of watermelon (25000vnd )at a fruit stall. My stomach was so full that I couldn't continue riding but needed a rest on a hammock for 40 min with a Vietnamese green tea provided by the stall woman. The last 40 km was surprisingly not so hilly, the road just winding around mountain valley of villages where many paddy fields were planted on the hill slopes. The last 11 km saw a double lanes highway, Mountain on one side, the Red river the other. Hotels are quite expensive 150000vnd here, a coconut cost 25000vnd and a normal mixed rice at 600000vnd. Not about crossing to China yet cos' I heard so much about the beauty of Sapa. Not gonna to miss it, so I will ride to Sapa tomorrow which is 33km southwest from here. Hopefully my trusted recumbent can rise to the challenge of a mountainous Sapa.

Watermelon 2.2kg finished in one go
Double lanes highway approaching Lao Cai
Buildings on the left side is Hekou,China
Railway line to Kunming
Railway bridge across the Red River
Hekou view from Lao cai
Both sides on this part of the river belong to Lao Cai
Old steel bridge will be replaced by a new one
Vietnamese worker working on the pillar ( no saftey ropes )

Lao Cai immigration office
Lao Cai trade center
Custom lanes for the 3 wheelers
In between the 2 border posts