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.
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.
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!!