Practice nurse Rhona Aikman has cycled 470km (292 miles) and managed to raise over £6,000 on behalf of Diabetes UK. In this short series of blogs Rhona takes us step by step through her time in Vietnam
Day 3: 90kms
This was the day I had been worrying about. The longest days cycling of the entire week - 90kms. This involved an even earlier start - we were on our bikes at 6.30am. The only consolation was it was a bit cooler at this time of the morning.
We cycled to a local market and had a look around then visited a floating market where growers bring their produce to sell to shops and hotels.
Instead of a flag on their boat they have their produce on a mast indicating what they are selling. Then it was back on our bikes.
As the day went on it was incredibly hot and no matter how much I was drinking I was constantly thirsty. James, our UK leader, had stressed to everyone the importance of fluids and watching your urine output.
The organisation was fantastic; a van met us at prearranged points with fresh supplies of water and snacks. Just before lunch one of the group had a nasty fall requiring a visit to a local clinic and eight stitches in her chin and cheek.
Sadly that was the end of the cycling for her and she had to spend the rest of the week travelling with the support team.
At lunchtime I was very close to giving up and concerned I couldn't finish the final 40kms of the day. Stubborn as ever and with great support from the rest of the group the few of us that were struggling made it to the finish for the day. Dinner was quiet that night. I think most of us were too tired to talk much – which is unusual for me.
Another long day but with a rest day tomorrow to look forward to. I think that was what kept me going.
The scenery started to change as we got closer to Cambodia and where it had been relatively flat until now we had some “gentle” hills to contend with.
Long stretches on open roads were a challenge but relieved later when we got to more rural villages lined with coconut and banana trees providing us with some shade.
We visited one of the many Killing Fields. In this one alone, 3,000 Vietnamese people were slaughtered by Pol Pot's regime in 1978.
Most of the areas we have cycled through never see tourists so we were definitely an unusual sight and attracted a lot of interest especially from the children who came out in large numbers to say hello.
Their happy faces certainly helped me keep going at times. The final section today was back on a road and we had a short hold up while a farmer stopped the traffic to let his ducks, several hundred of them cross the road. A sight I expect I will never see again. I only made it the final few kilometres today by thinking about a day off tomorrow.
We might have a day off cycling but no lie-in for us. Last night we said goodbye to our two Vietnamese guides and our bikes and tomorrow we will be joined by another Cambodian guide and new bikes once we reach Cambodia.
It’s a 4-5 hour boat journey with a stop to get our Visas at the border. Phnom Penn is the capital of Cambodia and steeped in history. We visited a Cambodian killing field and genocide museum in the afternoon. In recent years the UN War Crimes Commission has successfully prosecuted a few of those responsible for these atrocities.
In the evening we had dinner at the Friends International Restaurant where all profits go to provide support for the young people who train there. The trainees all come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
To read about Rhona's first few days in Vietnam, click here.