As a crew we have been through a lot together: bike failures, spills, being behind-schedule, and late rides in the dark. Friday made everything worthwhile.
Finally we were back on schedule and we had two things planned for the day - deliver clothes & rice to a poor village in the mountains and drive a short bit to our next port of call.
Our guide and support truck driver bought a huge amount of rice and loaded it into the support car. We headed out toward the mountain town for delivery. The route to the town was full of fantastic views and amazing village life. Stacks of dried corn stalks dotted the rocky landscape, waiting to be used as fuel for cooking. It must have taken weeks to clear the rocks for each small house and hut.
Giving rice and clothes wasn't what any of us expected. We actually ended up in a small town at the government building with a crowd waiting for us to arrive. After getting off of the bikes, we stood there for a few minutes as a spectacle for all to stare at. Then, the president of the local community invited us into the building. Once sitting down inside, we were showered with tea, butter cookies, and chocolate. The local president also kept trying to get us to drink beer. She was quite persistent despite all of us (including our guide, Dan) saying "no, no, no!" She even opened a few cans and set them in front of us in desperation.
After relaxing a bit, it was time for the "ceremony". Apparently the leaders from all of the smaller satellite villages had traveled to the town for the occassion. We posed awkwardly - holding bags of rice and clothes and smiling for pictures. The village leaders didn't show much emotion. But the president was actually very pleased - mostly evidenced by her interest in giving us as much beer as possible.
After the delivery, we had some time to take things at our own pace while heading back to our hotel. We were able to stop along the way to shoot video and take lots of photos. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and it was the best part of the trip, so far.
After returning to the hotel and having lunch in the worst restaurant of the trip (we ate there three times), we packed up the bikes and headed out for our next stop. The next leg was even more beautiful. Ryan has called it the "grand canyon" of Vietnam. The pictures just don't do it justice.
We settled in at the hotel for our first truly hot shower of the trip. Dinner was decent and we ended up passing out quickly after returning to the hotel.