Thursday, September 16, 2010

Road trip section 5: Dalat to Lien Son (on Lak Lake)

The day started with our first, and hopefully last, flat tire. We ran over a long nail as we were leaving Dalat, right in front of a waterfall site, which had a bunch of cafes and security on hand. Within a minute a handful of Vietnamese guys came over to help us. One of the security guys from the waterfall found the nail in the tyre, pulled it out, and explained where the nearest garage was and how much it would cost to repair. We untied our bags from the bike and without explanation the security guy jumped on our bike and rode off. This may have raised a few alarm bells, and we did have a joke that our bike was now long gone, but in all seriousness we found this quite normal and typical of the friendly and helpful nature of the Vietnamese. We had a coffee and after 20 minutes the guy returned with a fixed tire. We paid and thanked him and were on our way. I have had probably 4 or 5 flat tires since I have been in Vietnam and the process of getting it fixed has always been painless: there's always help around the corner.

This day on the road was all about the Vietname Highlands, or as we like to call them, the "Greens". As the day progressed we passed some amazing landscapes, causing us to make repeated photo stops. We headed south-west through Nam Ban towards Dinh Van on highway 27. We were basically driving South when our destination, Lien Son, was North, but we were assured that this was the best way to go (driving South meant reaching the better road to go back up). As we dropped in altitude, winding down the green hills from Dalat we could feel the temperature climb. Dalat was crisp and even a little cold but by the time we got to Nam Ban the temperature was perfect.
Once we reached highway 27 we rode north-west up towards Lien Son. That ride, yesterday’s, was my favorite so far. I know I have repeated this statement but the stunning landscape, along with relatively good roads that twisted and turned through hills and valleys, across rivers and through quaint little towns can’t be beaten; so far. There was again little traffic and the backdrop was a mass of different greens that even an artist would have problems putting together. The rice paddies were a fluorescent lime and the vast variety of colours from other crops and vegetation was eye catching. We had a game of "count the shades of green".

We drove up and down hills, in and out of valleys. The hills around us were efficiently cultivated with coffee, fruit, rice, bamboo and others I can’t put a name to. Each patch had its own shade of green which at times made the landscape seem surreal.

The rice fields seemed artificial they were so perfect. Ladies, again wearing their conical hats, worked incessantly in the hot sun. The fruits of their labour were obvious to see as we stopped and admired their pristine pieces of land. Rice fields were in the valleys with coffee and corn plantations on the slopes of the hills. When coffee plantations stopped bamboo ones started. We watched workers gathering bamboo on steep slopes. At times we stopped on each corner for another great photo.

After a while we stopped for a coffee. How awesome was that cafe corner?

We had a picnic lunch by the side of the road, made of bread, tomatoes and yoghurts. A family living in a humble tin house saw us and came over to say hello. We chatted to them for a while before getting back on the road.

We passed small towns and saw many kids walking either to or from school. They waved happily. Cows and pigs crossed the road, a normal scene in this part of the country. Locals gave us a curious but happy look. Now in the highlands there is probably less chance to see other foreigners. We weaved our way through the wonderful scenery before reaching Lien Son and Lake Lak late afternoon.

The trip was around 160km, it took us 5 hours.


  1. It's been mentioned that Vietnam is possibly the country with the most shades of green on earth. I've also heard someone saying it "almost vibrates", describing the intensity of the color there.

  2. I would agree with that. It is captivating and very hard to look away.