Dien Bien Phu

Mon 21 March – Dien Bien Phu rest day. 
Dien Bien Phu is the provincial capital and it seemed lively after days on the back roads. Back in 1954 it was the site of a major military defeat for the French and not much has happened here since. We arrived yesterday afternoon and braved the heat to tour the re-constructed bunkers and a rather one-sided museum celebrating the Viet-Cong victory and the end of colonialism. Again, we felt like celebrities when random locals grabbed us to be in their selfies!  

Later we met with Zugi, a friendly guy who had helped us translate when we were in Muong Cha the day before. He had invited us for dinner with his colleagues so that they could practice their English. We were unsure about travelling out of town but were very glad that did. We arrived at a small warehouse selling roofing. He and his colleagues lived in a series of small rooms at the back of the warehouse. Two women, seven men, all between 25 and 30 years old and excited to meet us. Some had learned good English but had never spoken to a Westerner and were keen to practice. We shared a delicious meal of traditional home-cooked food sitting on the floor of their small kitchen. Alex had to drink a lot of beer with them but I was only offered Coke! We laughed a lot comparing our lives and showing photos of our tour so-far. We felt honoured by their generosity, it is moments like these when travelling that are the most memorable, not ticking off the seven wonders of the world.

Tomorrow we begin the final leg of our cycling journey, 5 days back to Hanoi. Not sure yet if I will feel relieved or nostalgic to have finished!



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