This is our fourth installment of our trip across Vietnam’s central highlands. We took a 5-day motorbike ride from Dalat to Hoi An after meeting Mr. Quang in a Dalat cafe.

Day 4
We began our fourth day by visiting the minority villages of the Bahnar people just outside of Kon Tum. Most of these people live in wood and mud houses. They make their living from farming and as a people are fairly poor. We visited one of the families. Donning their traditional dress, they played bamboo instruments for us. These instruments are usually played during traditional festivities, but the tourist trade keeps up a steady business. Each community has a ronghouse for gathering during community events.

The highlight of the day was chugging up the mountain passes that offered sweeping views of the jungle. This part of the trip was along the Ho Chi Minh trail. It was clear to see how the vietcong evaded detection. The jungle canopy is thick and expansive. The mountain passes were steep and long; Chris often had to go into first gear to get us up the passes. To our surprise, there was very little traffic on this highway. Except for the occasional big truck or bus, the road was ours.

Arriving for the night at our hotel (we don’t know the name of the city), a Belgian couple immediately greeted us. We’ve never seen two people so excited to meet us. As it turns out, we were the first foreigners they had seen in nearly a month. Gerald and Sandrine are incredibly adventurous. They are bicycling their way across Asia. In Cambodia, the smaller towns don’t have guesthouses so they would stop and knock on a random door and ask to pitch their tent. Since most people don’t speak English, they often pointed to their tent to communicate their need. We can’t imagine doing that ourselves, but it is probably the most authentic travel experience possible. They often ate with the families and interacted in a way just not possible staying in guesthouses. As we chatted with them, we learned they had not been eating well in Vietnam. It was such a departure from our experience, we invited them to dinner with us. Unfortunately, they had reservations at a restaurant and were looking very forward to a great meal there so we opted to meet for drinks afterwards. Our dinner ran long, so midway through I walked back to the hotel and learned that once again they experienced another poor meal. I invited them to join us to finish off our wonderful feast. This particular night, we dined on wild deer caught by bow and arrow, wild greens, and the great spring rolls like we had at Lak Lake. They were incredibly grateful to be eating more than rice and noodles. It seems people only want to serve them rice or top ramen noodles no matter whether they point to other items or not. As they bike 50 kilometers or more each day, they need more than rice and noodles to fuel them. Gerald and Sandrine also keep a blog at GoneSycling 2009. It is in French, but if you paste the URL into¬†Google Translator you can get the gist of their adventures. Alternatively, you can click here for the translation. It was really nice meeting them, and we shared another dinner with them when they finally reached Hoi An.

After a great meal with lively company, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed R&R.

Day 5
Since we were at the top of the pass, our fifth day on the bikes consisted of taking the Ho Chi Minh trail down to Hoi An. We made small stops here and there. We visited waterfalls, and pineapple farms along the way. To our surprise, we actually stopped for lunch. We stopped in a little town called Quang and enjoyed Mi Quang noodles. Apparently, the Quang noodles are the specialty of this area. The noodles were served in a lemongrass broth along with chicken. It was good, but neither Chris or I could finish it. After just eating fresh pineapple, our stomachs couldn’t handle the extra meal. It seems on the 5-day journey, our stomachs adapted to the no lunch mentality.

We took a side road off the main highway for the last 50 kilometers into Hoi An. The road passed through small towns and expansive rice fields. Just before Hoi An, we stopped at a Cham temple. Built in the 12th century, it was still in fairly good condition.

Reaching Hoi An, our spirits lifted. Being on the bike was a great way to see the countryside but 5 days of the bike was enough for us. With our butts and backs aching, we didn’t bite when Mr. Quang offered us another 4-day trip up to Hue. All in all, we enjoyed our trip and thought it was much better than a bus ride.

As might be expected, we took far too many pictures during our 5-day journey to post the full extent on this blog. To view our pictures from this adventure, check out Jodi’s and Chris’ respective flickr pages.

2 Responses to “Motorcycle diary from Dalat to Hoi An: Part 4”

  1. Emily Ruth says:

    I love the description of your motorcycle ride! It sounds amazing.

  2. Betty says:

    I am now a computer person. I can read your blogs. Thanks. Grandma