Thursday, 8 June 2017

Cycle Saigon to Hanoi with EXPLORE! Dalat to Nha Trang, the Hon Giao Pass

We had the last breakfast on the roof top of the Huong Sen Hotel in Saigon then boarded the bus for a long journey to the Doug Nai River Lake. It takes a long time to get out of Saigon due to the busy traffic, eventually we got on the bikes at Trag Bom.

The cycling was good, through some very nice countryside and it was on back roads so not as busy as the Mekong Delta. The downside was it was hilly, or as cycling group leaders prefer to say undulating. The members of the group had varying degrees of fitness with some super fit and others; like myself fair weather cyclers. The good thing was that there were stops every 10 KM to allow for water and snacks as well as to let the slow riders to catch up with the group; the only problem with this was that the slow riders didn't get a very long break. The bus was also available for anyone who wanted a break from the bike. 

Lunch was at a very nice riverside location in Bao Loc.

The bus then took us to Dalat. This town was built by the French and used by them as a summer retreat as it is cooler than the coast. It is situated around the lake, and is a popular place for Vietnamese to get married or have their honeymoon.


Dalat, Vietnam
Dalat, Vietnam

Dalat, Vietnam



Our arrival into Dalat was late so did not get time to go on the cable car we passed on the way in, so just had a walk round the lake, called in at the Tin-Tin Café for a Coffee then went for dinner.
The guide books state that there are some of the best restaurants in Vietnam located in Dalat, we did not find them! We did have an OK meal in a the Chocolate Restaurant but it was more like a Café than a restaurant, the Vietnamese wine was good.
Dalat was the only place in Vietnam where I saw Rats and lots of them running around the streets. Our itinerary said we were in  the Golf Dalat Hotel, but the hotel was called the TCC Hotel, anyway it was good and even though the room looked out over the busy road and market we still slept.
Dalat, Vietnam


Dalat, Vietnam
The next day it was just a short drive on the bus out of Dalat to a garage where we got the bikes.

EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi


The hillsides around Dalat were covered in poly-tunnels growing fresh produce, every inch of land was put to use.


this is supported by the communist government with posters and slogans that look like they support hard work of all types seen all over the country, just the back grounds change, as you can see the one below has a fresh produce theme.


The  Cycling today was going to be a challenge as we were to cycle over the Hon Gioa Pass, the pass is 1.645 M above sea level and it is a dangeroug road. To get to the pass there were countless climbs. The road climbed up through forests, farms growing among other things Artichokes, going up and up, with just a few downs. Again we had stops every 10 KM, I needed them to catch up and get my breath back.


EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi


EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi


Eventually after 4 hills I got in the van and rode to the top. The higher we go the worse the weather became,
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi


with low cloud and rain. We saw two accidents, one lorry on its side and one bus in a ditch.
We were to have the group photo at the top but it was to wet and dull for that.



EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi
At the top of the pass EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi


All the men made it up to the top and one of the ladies. Well done to all, we were all so wet and cold Hoan advised us that in his opinion it was to wet and dangerous to cycle down hill, after much discussion one of the group said he was going to risk it. So we all did - and it was the correct decision. Yes it was wet, slippery and there was diesel and petrol mixed in with water on the road. Pot holes and mad bus drivers, But the waterfalls were in full flood and it was 20 miles of exhilarating speed 
Hoan stopped for lunch at the third restaurant at the bottom of the hill.  This gave us an opportunity to get dry and warm up. The service at this was dreadful, our group was ignored until I went over to Hoan, already eating his food and told him we were still waiting to order. When the food did come it was rubbish, The only reason it got eaten was that we were hungry. This was also the most expensive lunch- it was very poor value for money. I did ask Hoan why he choose this place as opposed to the ones we passed, he didn't have an answer but I believe he will have been getting better commission.



EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi

This is a Hot Dog????


Following lunch we bussed down to the beach resort of Nha Tang and to stay in the Vien Dong Hotel. Today we rode about 80 KM.