Leaving our resort we headed north up the coast past abandoned building shells that gave the appearance of a war zone. We turned inland and started to climb. The land became drier with red sandy soil, less farming, wider vistas, and more goats. As it became steeper still we left the bikes and went back on the bus to drive five hours into mountains. Away from the coast things became less western, the people different, with darker skin and speaking a different dialect. Da Lat means place of the Lat people, and is a beautiful cool town with a lake. It shows much evidence of its French Colonial history – exemplified in our hotel, which was beautifully proportioned and simple, retaining its cage elevator in the lobby.
We ate a dinner of pancakes and cold rolls in the house of local people. Da Lat’s role as resort town for the Vietnamese was evident, as was its role as a centre for cool climate agriculture. Our ride down from the mountains was spectacular – we climbed in heavy rain with thunder and lightning around us, and then, donning ponchos against the cold, descended for 30km towards the coast.
The rain started to clear on the way down, and we had occasional views through wonderful valleys towards the coast. back in our bus for the last part of the journey we travelled to spend the night in Nha Trang – a cheesy resort town full of noise, baubles and fat Russians.