2016 Feb: Here I come back to one of my favourite destinations: Vietnam. My second cycling trip through the Ho Chi Minh trail from Saigon to Hanoi through the mountains and country-side, with a few national parks. I am also excited to ride my new bike on this beautiful terrain.
7am at Saigon: All packed and ready to start the journey towards Da Lat.
Why? Why? Why?
First break of the day: I tried some really strong Vietnamese coffee. Most Vietnamese drink coffee with ice to beat the hot weather. I always experience heart palpitations after every cup.
Laughing Buddha: The popular figure of good luck.
First climb of the journey and I am still getting used to the packed bike and the new handle bar.
Beware of forest fire!
Resting in the smiling Buddha's shadow.
Halted here, and wondered about my fitness. Yes, i was sweating, and struggling to cycle up this road.
Monument looks like a rocket launching.
These hammocks are everywhere and really good for people to take rest between 12 - 2PM to get away from the hot weather. I had sugarcane juice, which happens to be really nutritious.
Its early morning and I am heading towards Da Lat. Its a routine thing for me to leave early morning around 5:30 AM, ride till 12, and take rest for another 2 hrs, to avoid the heat. I did the same in 2016 trip from Saigon to Hanoi.
A moped overburdened with plants, trees.
Stopped here and had 'Banh Mi' which is one of the typical breakfasts available everywhere. I used to eat the same for lunch.
Vietnamese coffee with milk and ice. Normally they serve a big pot of Tea with it.
The ascent began from here with too much traffic. Da Lat is one of the famous tourist spots and i experienced too much traffic on these hilly roads.
On my way to the guesthouse with lake view.
Da Lat city view.
Da Lat Railway Station.
Each bogie in a discarded train redesigned to be used as shops.
Girl.... On track!
Beauty girl brings an engine to a halt !
Linh Phuoc Pagoda, also known as Ve Chai Pagoda.
I wish the wishes come true.
Left early from from Da Lat towards Buon Ma Thuot.
I really enjoyed communicating with the kids, with sign language and most of them were curious to see a man with long beard. They usually ask many questions.
Relaxing with feet up, after climbing the mountain, and then its time to go down.
As soon as i came down, it started pouring and I got stuck here for almost 2 hrs. I thought of staying somewhere, rather than going up the mountains, and get stranded in the dark. Later I found a place to stay for the night.
People were pulling out pink clothes from the burned truck.
Unique wooden Catholic Church in Kon Tum.
Tan Huong Church, Kon Tum City.
Com lam - Vietnamese sticky rice in bamboo tube
Kon Tum traditional house.
On my way to Kham Duc.
This accident happened just a few minutes before I reached. He was waiting for help..
I really enjoyed early morning rides.
More accident scenes on the way.
Geckos for sale.
Local sculptor working his magic.
Staying at Thanh My. After getting into any town, taking a nice shower, having a good meal and getting a good sleep always gives me confidence and strength on the next day.
Leaving Thanh My and heading towards Paro.
Once I crossed the river, the uphill ride began and it kept on going up and up.
The scenery was amazing; for hours, there was only me and my bike, with the sound of crickets. I paused to absorb the ambience at many places, enjoying the moment, and the beauty of nature.
Damn! There was a dam in the middle of nowhere.
It was going to be a crazy day of riding. Left Paro and headed towards A Luoi. I had to cross the National park, and from here its around 110 km before one can access any place to stay and shop. So I started my journey early morning carrying enough water, aware of the fact that there will be big climbs through the day.
Packing enough water and food before entering the National park. Kids were really interested to check out my packed bike.
After the first climb, I saw this road going all the way down, and then going up through the mountains.
I can see the road clearly winding through mountains. There is just the greenery, hills, and me. No house, no shop, not a single human. No turning back, just pedalling on an on.
Reaching down, I came across this bridge.
..and the ascent continues.
The road going up through another bridge.
The top from where I started to ride down is visible on the side of the mountain.
In the middle of amazing natural surroundings,
I came upon this tunnel; having crossed it I felt I may have reached down at last, only to realize there is one more stretch of ride ahead. This meant another huge descent and ascent all the way till I hit upon another tunnel.
Approaching the second tunnel.
It felt really cool to go all the way down without pedalling, having crossed two large mountains.
The weather changed drastically after I came down, and it started to rain. The famous Hamburger Hill is located just nearby.
I was relieved to finally reach A Luoi and find a guesthouse. What an incredibly difficult and challenging day of cycling.
Left early morning at 5:30am to ride another 108 KM to the famous Khe Sanh.
The big difference in scenario from yesterday, was that throughout today you could see some civilisation.
It was a perfect morning for riding with amazing lighting and landscape.
I met this Vietnamese native on the street and had a chat with him.
Bench press, anyone?
At last, i reached the famous Khe Sanh. I decided to stay here a a couple of days to explore the open museums, and roam around the town.
Truong Son Martyrs' Cemetery. Quang Tri is one of the most bombed areas in Vietnam and so many soldiers have fought hard to protect the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The monument on the way to the American Khe Sanh Combat base.
Khe Sanh Combat Base. There is a small museum with the display of photos and stories about Vietnam war, and Khe San also an open museum with abandoned American helicopters and tankers.
Woke up early morning and left the guesthouse at 5:30 AM, and headed to Tang Ky. Its another 109 km with some big mountains crossing.
took a break in this small town to have breakfast, and also collected food and water for another ride.
I came up all the way from that little curved road.
The road towards left goes to Laos border.
Its fun sometimes to look back at the road you came along.
Me, bicycle, and the sound of crickets. I am loving this journey.
Another 19 KM to go before warm shower and food.
Showers again before I reached the guesthouse.
Another amazing day of riding.