That first day back on the bikes was absolutely brutal. We planned not to stay over night in the city of Lao Cai and instead biked in the cold rain to the mountain-top town of SaPa. Sapa was a hill-station built by the French in the 1800's to beat the heat of Hanoi. Since the expulsion of the French, however, it has become one of Vietnam's main tourist attractions as a place to go trekking and sightseeing among colorful hill-tribes and terraced rice fields. The distance from Lao Cai to Sapa was only 37km (according to the road signs) or 26km (according to mapmyride.com) but about 80% of it was a steep uphill climb (avg 7.7% incline apparently). It was too wet to take photos but we couldn't really see much anyway. The ride took us 7 hours and upon arrival in Sapa, we collapsed in our room at Cat Cat hotel while our clothes dried by the in-room fireplace.
|A1 Hill in Dien Bien Phu, filled with trenches and bomb craters - courtesy of http://tapchisonghuong.com.vn/images/news/090803DienBienPhu.jpg|