Highlands Motorcycle Tour-Elephants and Sand Dunes

Trip Start Feb 27, 2012
Trip End May 19, 2012

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Flag of Vietnam  , Bình Thuận,
Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day two of the motorbike tour and we are really getting into our groove. This was such a great idea!! We start by exploring the town of Dalat, this is a beautiful city – originally built by the French (who used to control Vietnam) as a holiday destination for themselves and as such it still has a large number of colonial villas dotted around town.

Then we ride down some winding roads to a big lake surrounded by a pine forest – I always pictured Vietnam being covered in dense jungle with leeches and snakes and never expected such diverse environments (Datal is up in the mountains and cold!).

We then get to ride a friendly elephant; she is old and slow but seems happy and playful. Every few steps she would stop to pick at the trees and play with the branches. Just up the road is a Buddhist temple with a large number of resident monks. Such a peaceful place, with neatly cut flowers everywhere and the air filled with soft bell tones. I can see why this would appeal to the Vietnamese, it is a complete contrast to the two-stroke engine deafening drone that you find around town.

A long and beautiful ride follows to a large waterfall then a silk factory - the machines still use punch cards to make patters, not a transistor in sight! For lunch we had our first proper bowl of Pho (traditional noodle soup) courtesy of our guides – it’s good to have locals order food for you while you’re still learning or you can be in for a surprise meal of chicken feet.

Then a very long drive through some very isolated rural towns. Most people we saw were ploughing their fields and towing carriages with water buffalo. We felt like celebrities driving through town, everyone stopped what they were doing and just stared at these strange white people. One town in particular was very interesting – it was built especially to house minority people that were displaced after a massive hydro power station was built. I get the impression that these people are quite marginalised, they are forced to give up much of their unique way of life and culture to assimilate with the rest of Vietnam. Some things never change no matter where you are I guess.Coming into Phan Thiet where we stay the night we explore some big sand dunes just as the sun was setting. 

By night our guides took us out for a couple of drinks – people around here put ice in their beer, I still can’t get used to that. One local singled me out and tried to challenge me to a sculling contest. Not a chance, fool. Our reward for demonstrating such cultural dominance was slices of Mango.

Tomorrow we plan to finish our tour then head to Saigon. Enjoying this so much though that we are thinking of extending it!
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clare on

ok, enough slacking, tell us more you are getting behind!

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