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Marty's World Journal

Dalat to Dak Glei

VIETNAM | Monday, 23 July 2012 | Views [2399]

I had been told by other riders I had met in Saigon that the road from Dalat to Nah Trang was amazing. They weren’t wrong. Slipping the bike into neutral it was silent and fast downhill riding for over an hour. The view to the coast through a steep waterfall lined pass was amazing. Even more amazing was the change in temperature. Perched in the hills Dalat had been cold, but dropping to the coast every 100m resulted in an increase in heat and humidity.


Arriving in the coastal city of Nah Trang we were surprised to find most hotels fully occupied thanks to Vietnamese school holidays. We eventually found a guesthouse just off the main strip and headed to the beach for a swim. Nah Trang is known for its beaches, diving and party scene. It’s a touristic place but a fun city none the less. Walking the city that evening we were bombarded by touts for local bars. Treating it like a game, its fun. And when one girl from the bar next to our hotel sees us being targeted by a girl from another bar 100m down the road, they both become very animated in competing for our custom.  

Daniel and I spend the morning in a nice café where the owners son takes time teaching us basic Vietnamese. We leave being able to say hello, goodbye, menu, what is it, how much, sorry, bill, count, swear and probably most important say, “oh my god that is too expensive.” In the afternoon we walk along the beach and to the Cham towers north of the City. Getting back into town we bump into Claudia who I previously met in Saigon staying at Lofi Inn. We head out for dinner and then to a few pubs/clubs where we meet Tom. Tom has spent time in Nah Trang previously and tells us about a great beach a few km south of the city. Daniel and I had planned on heading north the following day, but decide to meet up with Tom in the morning and spend the day at the beach instead.

Tom’s beach is great. An aussie expat has an unassuming setup with shaded loungers and tables on the sand offering good food, beers and water sport equipment. We spend the day chilling, swimming and paddle boarding. After an hour we all get moderately proficient at the latter and form the centre of attention for the Vietnamese beach goers, to the point where a guy in his 50’s borrows our board and paddles it like a kayak. Encouraging him to stand up, he gives it a go. His response to our celebration of his success is to monkey hug us in the water. Male boundaries for contact in Vietnam are limited. Getting back to Nah Trang late we’re invited by the café owners son for drinks after dinner. Here we learn a few things about Vietnamese culture (the invitee always pays for drinks) and the divide between North and South Vietnamese. The café owners son passionately hates people from the north.

Heading north from Nha Trang along the coast Daniel and I split up after an hour on Highway 1. He’s keen on following the coast and I want to follow the Ho Chi Ming Trail inland. I head back up into the hills and spend the night at the nice and less visited city of Buo Ma Thuot. Leaving town the next morning for Kon Tum I have my second run-in with the police, again for speeding. The cop is cool and lets me go with little more than the warning of “Cham Cham” – Slowly Slowly.

North of Nha Trang

Highway 1

Getting back on the Trail I head to Kon Tum via Plaiku. The road is shoddy but Kon Tum is a nice place to spend the evening. On the advice from another traveler I take the walk across town to Eva Café. Set up by a local artist/wood carver, it’s a nice place to chill for an hour and eat.


Eva Cafe

Its a late start the following morning and I arrive in Dak To around midday. There’s a large Rong in the center of town where I stop to break. Im preparing to get back on Suzi when a Minsk (Russian bike) with two travelers pulls up next to my bike.


Uri and Noga are from Israel and are doing a similar trip through Vietnam. They offer me some coffee and food and we sit beside the Rong chatting about our adventure so far and the plan ahead. Noga points out that the Laos border is not far away and that they might go and check it out. I join them on the side trip to the border where we walk around the Vietnamese border buildings like we’re running the place.

Uri and Noga'sMinsk

Side Trip to Laos Border


Laos Border

Unable to source Beer Lao we settle for a Vietnamese beer before continuing our journey. Vietnam and Laos must have big plans for this border crossing as a four lane highway is being constructed to Dak Glei. The road is great and being downhill makes for a fun and fast ride. Arriving in Dak Glei we’re faced with the usual battle to find a guesthouse that will take us. Because we are not Vietnamese, we are sometimes not welcome. There are rules limiting some guesthouses ability to accept non Vietnamese travelers, but sometimes I feel this isnt the case. After protracted discussions, and Nogas nice way, we get a place to stay. Uri and Noga cook an amazing dinner followed with some potent champa.

Good Road!

A side trip the next day sees us cross a muddy mountain pass to a small village. We do some exploring and Uri and Noga make another simple yet nice lunch. Hitting the Trail we spend the night in Thanh My at a nice guesthouse where Noga tells me that Nha Nghi is Vietnamese for guesthouse, which comes in useful later. The next morning we ride to Hoi An.

not such a great road

Riverside Drive

Jonesés Style

Wide Load

Tags: beaches, ho chi minh trail, laos border, minority villages, mud trails.., paddle boarding



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