The day started off auspiciously enough, with a breakfast of fried egg skillet, steak, pate, and French bread. I turned 18 today, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than a bike ride through Vietnam! With a respectable 9:30 start, I was on the road, but something felt off from a gastrointestinal perspective.
About 20 miles in I hit a wall. I think I will remember vividly the flat, winding road and steep embankments on either side. It was outrageous, I was spinning along in the smaller front chainring and quite far up the rear cassette. In laypersons terms: low speed, lots of spinning. Somehow I made it to a coffee shop in a nearby, small town, and plunked into a chair under a fan. At first I thought it was a heat-related malaise, which would be odd since it wasn’t particularly hot and I’d been in such good shape the rest of the trip. Soon that theory proved wrong as I rushed to the bathroom. It’s not right to give you all the details on this medium, just know it wasn’t pretty.
The funny thing is that I had anticipated some kind of travelers sickness to catch up with me at some point on the trip. But now, really? On balance, I think it was better to get sick right at the end of the trip instead of the beginning or the middle.
I made it to the local hotel which wasn’t brilliant, contacted a couple people to give a status update, and promptly crashed. I slept most of the afternoon away, took my antibiotics in the evening, and made the decision to talk to the hotel manager about arranging a ride into Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow.
This experience sucked in the moment, there’s not much of a way to sugar-coat that. On reflection though, I think it served as a reminder, albeit a rude one, that not everything can be gravy all the time. This message was all the more timely on my 18th birthday. The journey (into and through adulthood) has its rough spots.