Saturday, April 14, 2007

Day 8-11: This will be great

After the rough days of cycling the mountains we certainly deserved and needed a couple of days rest. Dalat was the perfect spot to recharge our muscules. Because of its high altitude, Dalat is slightly cooler than Bao Loc and Di Linh, and temperatures are significantly lower than Ho Chi Minh City. As a matter of fact, Dalat is often called the City of Eternal Spring due to its year-around mild average temperatures. At night it actually gets a bit chilly. The climate reminded me of a Swedish Summer when it is at its best.


But before we could enjoy this picturesque, small and hilly town I had to get my camera repaired. I was devasted when I noticed that my handle-bar bag had not been fully waterproof. The built-in rain cover is appearently just for show. The 2.5 inch camera display had taken in water and there was no way of knowing how much water had leaked in during the heavy rainfall the day before (see previous post). Daniel’s advice could have saved my Canon 400D from a disaster I never would have imagined. He instructed me to not turn the camera on and maybe someone could take it apart, dry the internal parts and then resemble it when dry. Amazingly this worked. An old man, who had been running his camera store way before the digital revolution, charge me 100,000 Dong (7 Euros), and returned it to me as if I just bough a new camera. I was releaved, to say the least.

The first day in Dalat we spend running errends and rest. We were so determined to not strain our muscles that we rented a motorbike just to transport ourselves from one point to the other. On day number two we got in touch with one of the Easy Riders of Dalat. Easy Riders are dedicated freelance motorbikers who offer you a full-day ride around Dalat and its sourronding attractions on the back of their old Russian and German motorbikes. We hired “Nam” for a full day, a wise and knowledgable, middle-age man who showed us almost all that you can see around Dalat. I sat behind Nam on his rusty machine, while Daniel decided to become an Easy Rider himself, riding his own motorbike. We visited Pagodas (place of worship), coffee plantations, Vietnamese silk farming and production, Tobacco fields, Waterfalls and more. At every stop Nam told a tale in broken and monotone English. After each story Daniel and I would look at each other and try to figure out the point of the story. Most often there was none. Nam was a fantastic guide, but not a story teller.

The next day we left Dalat and headed for Phang Rang, which is located south of Dalat, near the southern coast of Vietnam and 1500 meters below Dalat. As a result, we expected an easy day of cycling, although we had to cover more than 100 kilometers on our bicycles. It was a beautiful day when we started pedaling at 06:00, but to our disapointment we were not traveling downhill, we were still pushing ourselves up and down the mountains of Dalat, and the frustration was building up for every kilometer we were ascending. After 30 kilometer, and at an altitude of about 1650 meter, we finally reached the turning point. The road started to swirl its way down the steep mountain like a snake on the move. Potholes and sharp turns were the only obstacles to overcome as we were free-wheeling down the bumby roads with speeds exceeding 40 km/h. With my favorite Opera playing loud in my headphones, it was an unbelievable feeling of happiness. All of a sudden my life was summerized in front of me and I realized how fortunate I am, having good friend, supporting family and a girlfriend who understand my crazy idea of bicycling through Vietnam and China for 100 days.


Unfortunately the enjoyment only lasted 30 kilometers and quickly we were down at sea level once again. It was interesting to see the vegetation change from pine trees to palm trees; less apealing was to feel the temperature rise to a staggering 40 degree Celcius. Consequently, the last 30 kilometers were extremly warm and demanding. Right before we entered Phang Rang, we stopped at a welder to get Daniel’s handle-bar rebuilt. It is stunning how dedicated and passionate the welders of Vietnam are, because about one hour later, and lots of welding, Daniel had his new handle-bar ready, which now allow him to sit more straight up when he desires.

The ride from Phan Rang to Cam Ranh was only 45 kilometer, nevertheless a rough one. We did not need to fight steep mountains, but this morning the headwind was fierce and strong. Out of pure aggravation we pushed on with full power, draining the last energy of our legs. Despite the short ride, we were completely exhausted once we reached Cam Ranh. After a huge lunch we simply passed out in our air conditioned room for two hours. We spend the afternoon pedaling around the small streets of Cam Ranh harbour. When heading back to the hotel, two fishermen stopped us, gesturing something we could not understand. They wanted us to follow them. We rode out in the harbour, in a patchwork of dams. The dams contain lots of fish we found out, once the fishermen started to pull in their huge nets. It was a fascinating sight and we thanked them for letting us take part of their daily life.
The next morning we started our journey at 06:00, avoiding the unbareable mid-day heat. With less wind than the previous day and a very tasty, solid Vietnamese breakfast (Vienamese coffee, bean sprout panckakes with chili) we finished early in Nha Trang at 10.00. The 60 kilometers we just had cycled were surprisingly easy, and we were very pleased to see westerners again after a few days in remote places where English is not spoken. Now it’s time to take a few days off and enjoy the soft, warm sand and turquise water of Nha Trang.

SLIDESHOW DALAT TO NHA TRANG

If you are interested in a full cycling route report, you can find that on the left side of the page.

4 comments:

  1. Hey Daniel K, you've got a few followers here at Levi's(R) enjoying watching your trip. Great website!! Excellent photography!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Daniel, great pictures and an interesting report. Much luck for your further Route.
    Greetings Michael K. (LR) :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Daniel H:
    Hej där din cykelbackpacker!
    Bara så du vet så är jag inte det minsta avis på din resa. Nej då.
    Munster saknar dig. Nu har grillsäsongen kommit igång på allvar och slaklinan har nyttjats till max. Synd bara att tillsammans-mange vägrar röra sig utanför sina fyra väggar där han kedjats fast av diverse italienska maffiabarn. ;o) Annars är det mest jobb som gäller. 5 resor inplanerade innan Juni. Dessvärre inga till Vietnam eller Kina.
    Slut på ordbajseriet.
    Ha det sjukt bra och forsätt skriva i dagboken! Jag följer den med spänning.
    pusskramochlederhosen //ulf

    ReplyDelete
  4. Italiano-MangeApril 18, 2007

    Hallå där!
    Tillsammans-mange vägrar inte alls det röra sig utanför väggarna! Däremot är han riktigt social och vill gärna hitta på saker! Problemet är bara att vissa har svårt att hålla sig i MS så att man kan umgås!!

    För övrigt går det bra med min cykling också, ligger runt 1-2 mil i veckan, slå det om ni kan!

    ReplyDelete