Rod McLaughlin


Buon Ma Thuot to Dalat (05 apr 18)

I rode from Buon Ma Thuot about 100 easy Km to Dam Rong, an unfriendly little town just over the river that divides Ak Lak Province from Lam Dong. They did have interesting omelettes in rice paper - unfortunately, my picture of them is not good. 

The next day was the hardest yet - two high passes. But I was lucky. At the top of the second, I ran into Bang, who has a hostel in Dalat. He said I could stay there free, and he'd show me around. People are often impressed by bike tourists, though it's pretty easy compared with mountaineering, and I'm not a patch on Nguyễn Thị Thật, Vietnam's first women's Asian Games cycling gold medal winner.

Before I got there, I stayed in Khu Pho 6, at the bottom of the hill to Da Lat. The second picture above is of a meal there. I stayed in the Queen Hotel, which is easy to find, and I recommend it. Nice people, and they're actually doing stuff - fridges for the rooms arrived while I was there.

I was at 950m, so up to Dalat was only 550. I found Bang's hostel using Google Maps, and called him. He sent someone to let me in. It's being constructed, but so is most of Vietnam, and the rooms are lovely and relatively unaffected by the building going on on the outside. I think he means it about letting me stay free, since there aren't any paying guests here. I haven't actually met him yet, but three young people, Da, Len and Huong. I tried out my respectful age-related Vietnamese pronouns, but they just said call the boys by their names, and Len is Miss Len. They want to speak English. Vietnamese pronouns are complicated.

Dalat is beautiful, and the weather is perfect. I bet a house here costs a bomb. It's massively Westernised, without being spoiled. Instead of Starbucks, there are blatant copies of it - you can get away with that in Vietnam. What are the Americans going to do? Get their asses kicked again?

The first picture above is a first sight of Dalat. Can you see the gold Buddha?

Incidentally, when I had to ride to Sa Pa (the northern Dalat) on my first Vietnam bike trip two and a half years ago, I kept having to push the bike. I didn't know it, but that must have been the beginning of my heart condition, now cured with an operation. Now, I just ride up the hills. A 1000 metre climb is hard, but not too hard.



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