Go where the wind takes you.

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The plan to cycle up to Dalat was a bit ambitious I found. I wasn’t feeling 100% anyway, but to be honest there was no way I would have made it even if I was. After 70km or so there was a road junction with a small town – perfect place to find a bus. After chatting to a local who had some basic English, I established there was only one bus per day up to Dalat, and it had already left. In the process of trying to establish where the truck drivers stop for food (in hope of finding one willing to give me a lift), a Ford Transit mini-bus screeched to a halt and someone jumped out. The magic letters ‘’DA LAT’ displayed on the dashboard prompted my to hurry over before it shot off again. Two minutes later and I was bouncing along what would turn out to be the worst road I have ever seen. The entire mountainous switchback road was full of roadworks with the bus having to drive over boulders and pot holes that sent all the passengers airborne. There were very few scooters up this road as it was so rough. It made me very glad I had taken the bus. The bus I was on didn’t have a working horn (essential in Vietnam – at least the driver attempted to fix it, by hitting the fuse box with a hammer. At another town, I was transferred to another bus, which appeared to be the local school bus, full of giggling children wondering what on earth this white person was doing on their bus.

Cheating by getting a lift on a bus.

Cheating by getting a lift on a bus.

Dalat is a bit of a strange city. It is the honeymoon capital of Vietnam (for the Vietnamese) and as a result is packed with cheesy hotels and has a lake with oversized swan pedalos (which appears to be the main attraction of the city). It’s significantly cooler at Dalat due to the altitude being 1500m – dare I say it, I was almost cold while sitting outside a cafe last night enjoying a beer. I managed to score a hotel with a bath which having not had one for several weeks was absolute bliss. The bed with it’s bright pink bed sheets and matching pillowcases weren’t exactly to my taste, though I’m generally more concerned about how bad the pillows smell than their colour.

Fantastic place for a puncture - an empty road on a sunny day.

Fantastic place for a puncture – an empty road on a sunny day.

Today I enjoyed another tailwind which was blowing me to Bao Loc, 110km down the road, including one section which was totally deserted (a new toll road). The only thing that slowed me down was my second puncture of the trip.
Finally, I have seen quite a few locals getting into Christmas, including this local petrol station, who has put quite a bit of work into his nativity scene!!

Vietnam Christmas nativity scene at a local petrol station

Vietnam Christmas nativity scene at a local petrol station

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10 responses »

  1. Hi Johnny. Do you never stop?! I think I’d be wanting to have a few days looking around at some of the places I find myself in. Anyway, I see the tracker has now caught you up in Bao Loc, so I guess you pressed the button on the morning of the 22nd (just midnight here). I googled Bao Loc when you put your post up, and found an American blog with all the road accidents between there and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), so just you take care!

    • Yeh the road was pretty crazy. I’m now back to the main A1 coast road, junction with the road I’ve been on for the past couple of days – seen a couple of things I’d rather not mention in the blog… Ask me when I get back. I’m planning on getting to Saigon via a back road (found it on another cyclists blog on crazyguyonabike.com) as the main road will be mental. Either that or go to the coast and catch a boat up o the city.

  2. Hi Johnny well done mate, it sounds as though you’re having an experience of a lifetime. How many dogs & kids have you run over? My son did a similar thing riding south to North & he managed two dogs & one child (accidental). He mentioned the most scary thing that they did was ride at night something they only did twice, purely becuase of necessity. He mentioned Ho Chi Min was madness to ride around. Whilst there they used the ovenight train as well. Worth considering perhaps?? Well its getting near to Christmas madness, usual rubbish people going mad because the shops only shut for one day. What would the people of veitnam think of us westners? Enjoy the rest of the trip, the blogs great. Merry Christmas, enjoy it where ever you will be. Tanzy 🙂

    • Cheers Tanzy, no dogs or children yet, but I’ve had a couple of close calls with pigs. I’m currently on google earth looking at a back way into the city which involves a passenger ferry, ie no trucks 🙂 Expect I’ll be in Ho Chi Minh for Christmas. Have a good one yourself, enjoy the time away from the office!!

      Johnny

  3. Great blog entry Johnny: not surprised you didn’t hang around Nha Trang too long! Enjoy HCMC. I also imagine you won’t go to the Apocalypse Now night club. Quite dodgy. If you head SW from HCMC you get towards the Cu Chi tunnels which are some of the tunnels the Viet Cong used to hide out in. They made them (slightly) wider so fat tourists could get through them. Maybe worth it for the anti-American-pig-dog indoctrination video they make you sit through. Or maybe not! Again, very touristy. Happy Christmas!

    • TBH, I’m amazed that the Vietnamese are so welcoming to westerners, even Americans, considering what was done to them and their country. Think of us and some people’s attitude to the Germans, and that war was nearly 70 years ago.

    • Hmm I was a tad disappointed with hcmc compared with hanoi although it does have a pretty spectacular large roundabout which is quite fun to try and cross! Cu chi worth a look if just for the history. Past politics are dealt with in these places and not on a personal basis which holds a dignity we could all learn from.The video indeed is quite mesmerising although the propaganda isnt a patch on what was thrown at us at the hanoi ‘hilton’ prison and revolutionary museum. The tunnels are hot and still tiny.

  4. Which road did you take to go to Dalat? I’m heading South right now on the coastal road and will be there in a few days, depending how many stops I will do on my way…i’m 50 km South of Que Nhon…

    • Hi dariya, if you look at the map, there is only one road east down to the coast from Dalat – currently being upgraded so VERY rough. I cheated and took the bus up there & glad I did so. I have to say though, the road south from Dalat to H.C.M. city was even more dangerous than the main coast road.
      Safe travels,
      Johnny

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