Dalat To Danang May 23 to 25, 2002

Dalat definitely made my top five list for the trip. Located at an elevation of 1400m in the central highlands, this tourist and university town is one of the few places in the country where the temperature rarely eclipses 90 degrees. It was quite a contrast to the prior days in and around Saigon.

The residents of Dalat are exceptionally friendly. The students at the university even more so. Combine that with great local cakes, a plentiful supply of rambutan (chom chom!), and a beautiful lake and you have a sure recipe for an enjoyable stay.

I left Dalat early in the morning on the 25th to make my way to the Phan Rang, a city just off coast. This 110km ride was largely downhill, so I was hoping that it would be a relatively easy ride. The first 30km or so were the second-most beautiful ride on my trip. The rolling hills were covered with coniferous trees, or vividly colored tea fields. There were then two very exciting 10km plunges down into a valley. I realized about halfway down that the temperature was rising dramatically. While this was partly accounted for by the drop in elevation, it turns out that the Phan Rang province is the most desert-like of all Vietnam. The last 40km of the ride were brutally hot (somewhere in the 105-110 range). It was so warm that I at first could hear my tires sticking to the asphalt, and then could actually see them clinging to the road. Thankfully, there were a few kind souls who provided me with some shade and short breaks. I was too exhausted to take any pictures.

The following day I took a train from the Chap Tham station to Danang. The 18 hour ride was not at all fun, but the views were extraordinary. I was glad to have some time to relax in Hoi An.

[If you cannot see the navigation on the left, please click here.]

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Dalat Central Market   Xuan Huong Lake   More Lake   View from the Hotel  
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The Vietnamese Flag   Dragonfruit...   ...it's like a mango-sized Kiwi!   Stop & Go Cafe  
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The Flower Gardens...        
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Sea of Purple   Entrance   Cool grass   Walking along the garden  
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Tall pine   6" off the ground?   Nifty   More flowers  
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Orchids   Limestone rocks?   Mmm... Yellow.   Even more flowers  
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Behind Dalat University   More University   Former Church. Now the student union.   North of Dalat  
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Continuing north to...   The Valley of Love   Home of the Vietnamese cowboy   Yes. A heart-seated toadstool.  
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Sure is pretty though.   One last shot.   1 free meal = 2 hours of piano   Plus some accompanyment  
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At the piano hotel   The audience   The owner   Leaving Dalat  
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Heading west through...   ...more coffee and tea fields.   Red, red dirt   Terraces  
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Amazing views...   ...that go forever.   Plunging down toward sealevel   More great views  
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Long way to go to the ocean   Cows   Water pipes   Getting more brown  
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100 degree weather yields burns   Phan Rang   At Thap Cham train station   The assistant manager and me  
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Done tutoring English   Gecko, the local specialty.   The train station   My bunk for the night  
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Another view   5:30am views from the train...   Wow. That's green.   More views.  
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Cultivating rice   A cabinmate