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Published: November 12th 2011
Dalat – A relaxing bike ride of two different varieties.
After the chaos of Saigon I was really looking forward to heading to Dalat to explore the mountains and surrounding areas. There are a group of motor bike tour operators throughout the majority of Vietnam called the Easy Riders and like most things in Vietnam there are also many people pretending to be the Easy Riders. Once I located the original Easy Riders, well actually they located me within about 5 seconds of me stepping from my bus I arranged a tour for the following day. The tour was exceptional, one of the best tours I have done so far on my trip. My guide Lam was so knowledgeable, friendly and spoke fantastic English and the 7 hours on a bike flew by. I also don’t think I’ve visited so many places in one day before. I won’t bore you all with details about each place I visited because I think the photos will explain far better than I can.
During the tour Lam wanted to chat all the time which was great but every time he spoke he took his eyes from the road and I felt we
were seconds away from crashing, I was trying to give one word answers to end the conversation at times but he was up for 7 hours of conversation and was very persistent, so in the end I gave up and went for the chatting option over life preservation.
During the trip we stopped for lunch and Lam took care of ordering, I just requested something local and not to spicy. We of cause had Pho with Beef, Pho is a very popular noddle dish out here it’s literarily everywhere you go and it’s very nice. But Lam didn’t stop there, because he sensed I was up from trying something different he brought over a toasting drink for us. I asked what it was and he said he would tell me after the toast. I thought what the hell just go for it, but as I got the drink close to my mouth I could then smell it…….. and it smelt like petrol. I reluctantly took the smallest of sips because I didn’t want to offend Lam, my god it was the strongest alcohol drink I’ve had. Once Lam finished laughing at me he then pointed to the counter behind
us to show me what we were drinking, for a moment I thought it was the rice wine with the snakes and birds in it and I want to be sick but he assured me it was the rice wine with cinnamon. Either way it was rank but not to Lam he was happily finishing off the small jug her brought to the table. By this time all I was thinking is the second half of the day could be fun with a drunken tour guide on a motorbike. But to be fair this didn’t seem to have any effect on him, therefore he was either drunk before we started or immune to it, I didn’t feel the need to ask.
Apart from the endless sublime mountain views the highlight of the tour for me was the silk factory, it was so antiquated and noisy and nothing like what you would see back home, but the workers looked pretty happy. I was just wandering around looking at the complete lack of automation and technology but it seemed to work like clockwork and made for a fascinating experience, the workforce were all women, well girls in their twenties I guess
and I was left feeling I had stepped back about 70 years to pre-war production processes. The end products were beautiful and at the factory they had a small handmade section for all manner of garments and the time and effort it takes to produce these items is immense and the final cost so small.
After such an amazing day I decided the following day to use my own steam to explore, so I hired a mountain bike and hit the roads. Thankfully the roads here are nowhere near as busy as HCMC but they are still a little daunting for Jonny foreigner. After the first 30 minutes you get the hang of it and it’s like you have always ridden on such crazy roads, my rule of thumb was to just go and anything behind me would avoid me, all I needed to do was avoid anything in front of me, it seemed to work but on the odd occasion I will confess to few hair raising moments, or as many of you will say I nearly touched cloth!
Biking around was a great way to explore and one I would wholly recommend, I went to the
old train station, to the mountains, to the Valley of love and to a pretty awful waterfall that I can’t remember the name of because it was that unimpressive. It’s surprising how much ground you can cover in one day and believe me the bike was not the best but it did the job.
On my last day here I just relaxed around the lake, drank coffee, went to the local market and eat! What a perfect way to end a great three days in Delat, it really does have so much for everyone and I had a much needed break from HCMC, perfect.
I’m just hoping the next destination will be equally as relaxing, I’m heading to NhaTrang for some Island hopping and beach relaxation, bring it on!
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