Ta Xua - Điện Biên Phủ
Day 9 and I felt very fortunate this morning to wake to the clear and beautiful mountains of Ta Xua for the second morning straight. This time we stayed on the Dragon Spine side of the valley so was able to get some great photos over what is arguably Vietnam's most famous ride.
I didn't ride it this time around, although I think the 500X would be capable in the dry conditions. Getting back up the steep decent just before the Spine would be the trick so without a wingman and with wifey, who already thinks I'm mad, thought better of it. Spoilt again also with Ms Thuan's pork skewers for breakfast but did manage to drag ourselves away this time a little after 9am.
I had put a Spotify song list together specifically for this ride as I consider sections of it up with Vietnam's best for the riding I prefer. So off comms, on with the tunes and off the mountain to get started for the day. A photo stop only in Bac Yen. I've stayed there a couple of times and really don't rate it.
The ride from Bac Yen to Son La is very good and though the mountains not as impressive, a great precursor for what's to come.
Son La is a reasonable sized regional city of just over 100,000, the majority Thai ethnic people. Most notable in this city and province, the women, once married wear their hair in a bun on top of their heads. I find it quite amusing to see their bike helmets sitting 15cm above their heads. Some, though I didn't see any today, have a helmet shaped to go over the bun .
Once through the city the road to Dien Bien Phu is sensational, particularly over the Pha Din Pass which unfortunately was shut today as a Covid precaution.
We did get lunch a little further on though and a chance to dish out a few more packs of the AFL Footy Cards.
The road has great grip, surface is reliable and the corners seemingly endless as we're back into big ranges.
Our night spot and the first city on this ride is rather famous for the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in early 1954. The French like many before and after no match for the tenacious Vietnamese. Unfortunately again due to the Covid situation at the moment the war museum and various other historic locations are shut to the public. I'll just have to come back, what a shame.