What is amazing about cycling extreme distances is that it makes what used to be extreme distances feel like a relaxed cruise around town. Today we put in a solid 45 kilometers through yet more "undulating" (read: hilly) terrain. It was a terrific ride. The afternoon sun kept us warm while a slight breeze ensured we weren't too warm! At this stage the entire group is fairly expert at dodging cows, motorcycles, large trucks, small trucks, children, chickens, dogs, potholes, and just about anything else that rolls into our path. If it is not bolted to the ground, it is most definitely making a run at one of us!
The true champs today were Nick, Adam, and Robyn. Nick was struggling with gastro and powered through despite a fairly frequent need for a "happy bush." Adam was suffering from some lingering heat stroke but recovered well and finished strong. Poor Robyn lost her balance right at the 20km break and gave us a brilliant stack that left her feeling fine but a touch muddy!
Even with that awesome cycle on the books, I think the highlight of our day was definitely the visit to the orphanage this morning. The group pulled together over $1,200 to buy supplies (thanks heaps to Sue for raising $900!) and we were able to buy:
-600 kilos (1300 pounds) of rice
-70 kilos of powdered baby milk
-70 kilos of washing detergent
-100 liters of cooking oil
-5 kilos of dried fish
-5 kilos of peanuts
-10 winter blankets
-22 double mosquito nets
-300 choco pie candy treats
That's a whole lot of stuff and it took a separate truck to deliver it and all 39 of us to carry it into the facility, where we were greeted by several wonderful nuns who told us about their work with the children (219 at present, all needing a home). After learning a great deal and officially handing over the goods, the kids welcomed us into their mess hall singing all sorts of great songs!
We spent several minutes on two separate sides of the hall, everyone unsure of exactly how to proceed. Finally, I just darted across the room and swept one of the kids into my arms. From there, it was absolute mayhem! We laughed, we joked, we chased, and we laughed some more. I think those who have kids at home were particularly touched, as an experience like this reminds us of how fortunate we are and how much we can do to help. We said goodbye by singing "YMCA" to them (not a pretty site!).
It was an amazing morning and I think we would have been happy to hang around a few more days to play but alas, adventure called. Still, I have no doubt this morning will stay in people's thoughts long after we have left Vietnam. I mean, honestly, look at that face!
90 final kilometers to go tomorrow AND we get to sleep in until 6:30am! You know you are working it went that sounds like a treat. GO TEAM!
Today's shout out goes to Louise, who made some friends along the way and nearly picked up a ride! She also took a rather interesting photo for her donors back home. You'll have to check Facebook for that one!