Day 4 – Phan Thiet to Da Lat – 160KM

17 04 2012

Firstly, I would to apologise to the good peoples of Vietnam. Today you may have seen a guy bombing around Phan Thiet to Da Lat wearing the grin of a mad man. It was not an invasion of the mentalist…it was simply me possibly enjoying the best day of my life. At times I am overly-dramatic. Worse than a luvvy at the Oscar’s in fact. Hand on heart though, today has been amazing. Heart poundingly difficult at times, but still frankly amazing. Let me back up these rather elegant claims…

The day started well. I slept quite well and joined Toan for coffee at a pleasant coffee bar opposite the hotel. Nice morning conversation, nice surroundings. We departed to a delightful small Pho cafe for breakfast. Unsurprisingly this was..well..Pho. Nevertheless, a tasty breakfast.

We then made a short journey to a Phan Thiet temple called Tong Cuc Thue. The local tribe worship the skeletal remains of a Fin Whale discovered on their coast back in 1758. Each year they worship the remains so their fish catches may be strong. It was an interesting blend of Buddhism and something else. What else I have no idea.

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A short ride out of Phan Thiet city we visited the temples of the Champa tribes. These amazing towers were built in the 9th Century, and remain standing. to this day.

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We then pushed on through Phan Thiet’s tourist town, which seems to be dominated by Russian’s to Mu Nei, and it’s beautiful sand dunes. I can assure you, the notion of walking up a 100m high sand dune at noon was not a wise one. The sun wreaked it’s terrible revenge on my fair skin.

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Moving on again after a short coffee and water break, we reached Mu Nei. This was an amazing picture opportunity for me, capturing local people working. Away from the tourist showiness…this was Vietnam. The Vietnam that I wanted to see :

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In case you are wondering, the ladies with the straw hats are spreading shrimp to dry out in the sun.

Pushing on, we then visited another set of sand dunes (whose name I cannot remember) :

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They were besides a beautiful Lilly filled pond

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We then made our way up into the Central Highlands of Vietnam. I am going to wax lyrically about this, and I make no apology about it. I have been a biker for 18 years, but have never really pushed myself. Riding has always been in the UK, where the roads are of a reasonable standard. The riding here tested my every ability. Sand traps, gravel, loose shale…all at a speeds of 40-60KM on either an uphill or downhill blast. I admit, I nearly came off twice, and had what the bike fraternity know as a “Tank Slapper”.  A strange thing happened though…blasting through the aforementioned hazards a smile grew across my face. That smile refused to diminish, no matter how tough the ride became. Reaching the top the view was stunning, despite the mist. Apologies for the dark picture.

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Half way through we stopped for coffee at a cafe. I say cafe, it was a tin shack on the roadside. I soaked up the atmosphere like a sponge. People sat there, simply relaxing. The biggest event of the day was who drove past on the road. A simple life, rewarding and fulfilling.

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Pushing on again, we had two more attractions to visit. Whilst blasting through a small village, I had to slow down due to a truck driving on the wrong side of the road past a group of school kids. They developed the “Asian Stare” upon sighting me, but then burst out in unison “HIIIIIII”. That was the icing on the cake for me.

We arrived at a mushroom farm, where racks of drying fungus were kept in the sun.

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Toan promised me a treat next. “Now we visit Chicken Village” he proclaimed proudly. I had a Sci-Fi moment in my minds eye, seeing huge chickens reign terror on the Vietnamese. We arrived just at dusk, into a rather “rustic” area. A lovely lady called Dung told me the story of Chicken Village, and their huge 20 foot statue of a cock. Essentially two tribes had come together following  a refusal to wed. Now they live together as one but keep their heritage and language. As a narrator, she was enthralling. As a material maker, simply stunning. They hand make amazing fabrics that are presented as part of a wedding gift. She did tell me that in their matriarc society that her tribe would need to present my family with five water buffalo, and twenty pieces of material. Not quite sure how my family would handle the water buffalo in Liverpool ! I did part with some hard earned cash for gifts though…worth every penny.

Anyways, here is the lovely Dung with one of her children. If you look closely you can see a big cock behind.

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The night was rounded off by a very tasty barbeque and several beers. Toan looks so serious here !

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Tomorrow we visit some sights in De Lat, then push northwards.

Oh, and a disappointing haul for “What have I seen carried on a motorcycle today” ;

1. Oxy-acetelene welding cylinders (two of)
2. Sun burnt white guy grinning like an idiot

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3 responses

17 04 2012
London Caller

BBQ looks yummy. 🙂

18 04 2012
innerwesttosoutheast

Came through some of these parts a few day ago on a ’66 Vespa. Hope you got a chance to watch the locals riding their bikes up and down the massive ramp pictured above in Mui Ne! Happy travels. 🙂

19 04 2012
dannyllama

I watched a local guy going up the ramp. It was funny as he gave me a cheeky wink, then blasted his Honda 50cc up the ramp !

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