uclatommy

84 months ago

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- Route

HCM to Hanoi: Day 2

Distance: 163.5 Km / 101.8 Mi Duration: 04:00:48

Apologies for the lack of route data in this post. The data was lost when I was forced to reinstall the app to stop it from crashing. For this segment, I took a route from Mui Ne to the interior to reach Da Lat.

Mui Ne was lovely. It's a quiet costal town, but popular among the Vietnamese tourists from HCMC. I guess it's close enough for a weekend escape from the city.

Night Markets in Mui Ne

Night Markets in Mui Ne

Interestingly, food menus were also in Cyrillic and I heard a decent amount of Russian being spoken.

Food Vendor at Mui Ne Night Market

Food Vendor at Mui Ne Night Market

Since this was a coastal town, sea food was the main draw on every menu. There were tanks of live animals that people would choose to have cooked on the spot.

Vietnamese Tourist Children

Vietnamese Tourist Children

After a good night's rest, I was ready to resume the journey. The route follows along the coast on DT716 and then hangs a left and connects to QL28B. This road crosses over the mountains on some really fun winding roads where you can practice your cornering. Beware though, this road is ill-maintained in various areas. Sometimes you will get a section of loose gravel in the middle of a turn! You wont see it until it's too late so don't take these corners too aggressively. You also have to watch out for the reckless truck drivers who won't hesitate to cross into opposing traffic in an overtake manuver! QL28B then connects to QL20 to take you straight into Da Lat.

Red Sand Dunes of Mui Ne

Red Sand Dunes of Mui Ne

My morning starts at the Red Sand Dunes. You pass it on the way out. It's a really unusual geological feature and is a strange sight juxtaposed against the ocean just a few kilometers away. You can park at one of the street stalls and the attendants will charge you 10,000 VND for 30 minutes. You could probably park elsewhere for free, but 10,000 VND is just $0.50 and you get to park under shade. Not unreasonable at all. Children will try to rent you a plastic sled which you can use to slide down the dunes. They charge 30,000 for 30 minutes.

On The Way to Da Lat

On The Way to Da Lat

After about 30 minutes more of riding, I start to notice a bit of instability in my turns. I look at my rear tire to discover it's flat! I'm surprised I didn't crash, honestly. I'm in the middle of nowhere without a building in sight. I could walk the bike for hours and not reach any help, so I decide to ride the flat at as low of a speed as I could. After about 3-5km I reach a building. By an incredible stroke of luck, the guy living there was a rider and introduced himself as Trần Phúc. He built his own kick-ass scrambler (which I didn't get a picture of) so he had everything needed to fix my flat. He offered to change my inner tube for 80,000 VND ($3.5 USD). Thanks man!

We exchanged facebook contacts and I was off again. Getting stranded was a real concern for a moment and I'm glad I got past the problem, but now I was behind schedule and those clouds in the distance looked pretty ominous.

Storms Rolling In

Storms Rolling In

The next few hours of riding would be filled with rain for which I was totally under-equipped.

Heading Towards the Mountains

Heading Towards the Mountains

Despite being behind schedule, I couldn't stop pulling over to take photos. The scenery was just so gorgeous. See those mountains in the distance? Da Lat is just beyond.

Quiet Lakeside Isolation

Quiet Lakeside Isolation

You pass by a few lakes at about the halfway point. It's so quiet and peaceful and you mostly have the road to yourself. But the sun was getting low in the horizon and I still had more than an hour to go! I'm getting worried as I absolutely do not want to ride on these roads at night. I'm on a tiny 125cc engine and the headlight is totally insufficient for night riding. This bike is ubiquitous so anyone knows how to fix them, but they are unreliable and made in China. I decide to gun it the rest of the way without stopping, but to my dismay, I get a second flat about 40 km from my destination. Luckily, there were people around to point me to the nearest mechanic and it was close enough where I could just walk it over. This time I just patch the inner tube. 15,000 VND ($0.75). I had thought that I would be getting ripped off, but Vietnamese mechanics are proving to be incredibly honest and kind.

After the second flat, I've become extremely paranoid about flat tires. I'll need to double check my tire pressure each morning and start the day earlier. Maybe at the crack of dawn and try to get into each destination by noon.

I end up having to ride the last 30km of mountain roads in the rain, with fog, and without daylight. Wind chill made things worse, but following behind the locals who knew the roads made it easier. I finally make it into Da Lat exhausted.

Da Lat

Da Lat

Although I had enough energy in reserve to manage visiting the 100 Rooftops Bar. It was a super interesting place. It's basically an intricate maze with bar seating areas scattered throughout.

100 Rooftops Bar in Da Lat

100 Rooftops Bar in Da Lat

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