We were setting off from Lai Chau and the first half of the days riding was pretty much the same as before, dirty dusty and bumpy roads.  By now we were both a bit fed up with it and prayed for smooth tarmac.  We got it!  The second half of the ride after lunch was perfect riding, we could finally get our bikes up to top speed and cruise along smooth perfect roads.  We made Dien Bien Phu in no time at all and had plenty of light left to see some of the sights.

Dien Bien Phu is a city close to the border of Laos in the North West Provence of Dien Bien in Vietnam and is known for the events which happened here during the first Indochina War between the French and the Viet Minh communist revolutionaries.  The battle occurred between March and May 1954 and culminated in a comprehensive French defeat that influenced negotiations over the future of Indochina at Geneva.  It was here in Dien Bien Phu the french finally lost the war when they underestimated the capabilities of the Viet Minh led by Senior General Võ Nguyên Giáp to transport heavy artillery including anti-aircraft guns to the surrounding mountains overlooking the french encampment.  The Viet Minh were able to surround the french and accurately bombard the french positions at will.  Tenacious fighting on the ground ensued and was reminiscent of the trench warfare of World War 1.  The French were able to fend off Viet Minh troops from there positions.  The french supplies and reinforcements were only by air and were fewer and fewer giving the anti-aircraft guns and the Viet Minhs tightly drawing in troops. 

Finally after a two month log seige the Garrison was overrun and apart from a few french forces who escaped to Laos the remaining French forces surrender defeat.

Shortly after the battle the war was official ended with the 1954 Geneva  Accords in which France agreed to withdraw from its former Indochinese colonies. 

The accords partitioned Vietnam in two; fighting later broke out between opposing Vietnamese factions in 1959, resulting in the Vietnam second Indochina War.


The A1 Hill were the french finally overrun by the Viet Minh

The A1 Hill where the french were finally overrun by the Viet Minh

Looking down from the top of the Hill you can see some of the trenches and a large bomb crater.