Vietnam 🇻🇳 🏍: Mountains. Ocean. Downtime in Nha Trang.

Distance this section: 670km |Total: 1,310km

This section was quite riding heavy and took us well past the 1,000km mark. We left Dalat behind us and enjoyed a wonderful ride through the hills towards the city of Nha Trang – a party & nightlife town on the beach.

Stunning scenery for hours as a reenergized ‘La Furiosa’ carried us smoothly over a foggy and chilly 1,600m pass and into the green rice valleys ahead of our destination. We stopped many times to take it all in.

Nha Trang is certainly not one of the culture centres of the historic Vietnam, but rather a resort town for mainly Russian and Chinese tourists looking for an affordable option to vacation. However, you have a huge amusement park (Disneyland of vietnam) and some thermal springs as well as your typical water activities to choose from. There are also trips to nearby islands.

We took it very easy and enjoyed a sushi instead of Pho soup and a ‘western’ night out in the Nha Trang bars and Skylight club. No moto for 1,5 days. First season of Lucifer (netflix) completed as we sat out the first rainy day in the hotel ☔ 🤞😴.

While hunting for a decent massage spot, we discovered a German restaurant ‘Haus Bremen’. The owner has been running German restaurants for almost 20y in Thailand and Cambodia. No place, he said, is as corrupt as Vietnam. Police literally go round the businesses to collect their fee or else…

On the way out of Nha Trang we stopped at Thap Ba ponagar – a hindu temple – before we headed for the city of Tuy Hoa. There we found a superb viewing spot on top of a hill (Nui Chop Chai) though Laura was more into the dog puppet that greeted us. For lunch we paused at Bai Xer just outside of town. Very scenic.

After a long journey, we booked ourselves a bed in the town of Qui Nhon – about half way from Nha Trang to Hoi An. Not a place with many tourists and distinctly communist judging by the monuments, street decoration and the popularity of volleyball (remember that keenly from my youth).

The evening was quite busy, as football was on more specifically the asia cup Vietnam vs. Iran. I didn’t know Vietnamese were that much into football! Quite some passion on display. Sadly, they lost 2:0. Bedtime!

Before heading to Hoi An, some 340km by the end of the day, we stopped at the pretty little bay of Eo Gio – a scenic place full of local fishermen in their round boats. There was also a huge white Buddha greeting us from the hills. We also saw the first accident … Quite surprising there aint more here given the style of riding 🤔

We got to Hoi An by 4pm or thereabout. Amazing city… But that is something for the next post. Stay tuned.

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Vietnam 🇻🇳 🏍: Dalat, temples of Duc Trong & a new clutch

Distance this section: 140km |Total: 640km

We got going reasonably early in Bao Loc. First up breakfast in one of the cafe’s near the pretty little lake in the city center. Or so we thought… Turns out that cafe’s there literally just serve hot drinks in morning 🤷‍♂️. The funniest thing in most cafe’s in Vietnam are the child size chairs. You are never quite sure if you break one and you sit in an uncomfortably low position. #babychair 😜

Vietnamese coffee

Coffee was introduced by the French in 1857 (see here) and is a major economic pillar of Vietnam with coffee exports only 2nd to rice. After years of rapid output growth, Vietnam is #2 producer worldwide after Brasil and ahead of Colombia.

See here for more info on coffee production.

Drinking the brew here is, however, weird. It is usually served with sweet condensed milk and each cup of coffee comes with its own coffee brewer. Not quite my taste 😐

So we left without breakfast and the firm intention to stop at the next place that sells Pho soup 🍜. We didn’t have to wait long…

Duc Trong temples feat. Vin Minh Tu Vien

The scenery remained stunning and the climate fresh up here on about 1500m. On our way towards Dalat we encountered a huge dam and wanted to see it closer. Restricted area! 🛑

However, during our attempt to reach the dam, we spotted a huge temple and headed in that direction. We didn’t have the slightest clue as to what expected us there… A seemingly endless amount of old and new temples aka just under construction.

In the first temple, a nun took us around. Laura somehow made a little conversation. I just admired the work. Inside the main temple, i think the monch expected us to pray… Well, we wouldn’t know how to! 🙏🙏🙏

We continued to another set of buildings in progress including the temple we had seen from afar. Super impressive on the outside – inside was sadly shut for us. I wonder how long it took to make all this (although in fairness, the use of concrete does speed up things).

By now we had also spotted a huge statue as the center piece of the Vinh minh tu vien temple complex. I don’t know the exact measures, but it is 10x plus taller than me so i guess 20-25m or thereabout. Huge in any case.

Dalat: La Furiosa needs a fix…💉 😷 🏥

It wasnt too far to Dalat and the views remained superb. The bike, however, didn’t feel that good. It moved, but didn’t take gas well and required always high revs to move. Not great heading uphill into Dalat!

On the way i had already checked for oil – low! Maybe it was just that? Well, a certainly overdue oil change was done quickly (4$ including air top up and fastened drive chain). Lets see!

We headed to the hotel and right after to a temple. The bike still didn’t work well. But we had time to explore the temple and nearby lake before heading to the garage again. Turns out ‘La Furiosa’ needs a new clutch. Understandable in her age.

A morning later and the bike got fixed. Felt really good to ride afterwards, especially uphill! Thanks a million. By the way, new clutch & fitting for USD25 😁. Love 🇻🇳

Exploring Dalat

Dalat was originally designed as a resort town by the French as still evident today by colonial architecture. We used our time (not spent with mechanics) to visit the Truc lam Buddhist temple, the pink church, the crazy house, on our way out the Linh Phuoc pagoda and saw Dalat’s Eiffel tower copy.

The crazy house is a gaudi style designed house by Vietnamese architect Dr. Dang Viet Nga (daughter of the 3rd Vietnamese president). It essentially looks like a huge tree house with separate buildings connected by narrow bridges and staircases. Truly extraordinary and a lot more than we had anticipated.

The architects idea, we were told, is to bring people back to nature in response to human destruction of nature over the past decades. Construction remains in progress (since 1990) while she has settled down in Dalat and actually lives in her ultimate big project. If you want, you can stay there by the way.

The objective of the Truc Lam temple complex objectives of the temple is to recreate the spirit of Zen Buddhism during the Tran Dynasty that ruled Vietnam from 1225 to 1400. We liked the trees in all shapes and sizes most.

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The Linh Phuoc pagoda was only constructed from 1949 and features the heaviest bell in Vietnam (8,500km, 4.3m high). Quite a colourful place and, if you decide to climb a few stairs, with great views too.