Monday, January 31

Da Lat --> Dac Lac - Day 6

Today was sooo great driving...Around the mountains high speed with awesome roads mixed with very bumpy roads with holes after the monsoons. We started early in the morning at 8 am from Da Lat and had a 200 km drive ahead of us. They had a lot of coffee plantation in Da Lat...This is the plant that makes me wanna get up from bed every morning...COFFEE!!
Our first stop was the "Silk Farm" where they produce silk from the beginning to the end. The whole process is quite complex but it goes something like this:

The silk worms are first fed a lot of strawberry leaves so that they get fat and happy and start forming their cocoon. After they formed the cocoon they can be sold for about 10 Euro 1/kg to the actual shop where the silk is produced.
First the cocoons are boiled so that the worm inside dies (wonder how many dead worms they kill here weekly?) After that they cocoons are attached to a sort of wheel which spins up the super thin silk thread. From each small cocoon you can get up to 1000 meter of silk!
After the silk is spun it is being made into bed cloth, clothes of whatever you want to make out of it...This is the reason the price of silk is high, takes a lot of steps to produce it.

Stacks of cocoons!

You would probably imagine that a place with a lot of rainforest has to have waterfalls and all that that you see in the movies? Well you're right! We went to see the biggest waterfall in Vietnam called "Elephant Waterfall" located about 50 km outside Da Lat. Vietnam really brings out the best of me so my Alter Ego: Spider Man came to say hi!

After that it was 100 km of driving around the mountains on AAAAWWEEESOOOOOMMEEEE roads! Imagine yourself sitting on a bike doing over 80km/h on a total deserted road with sunshine in your back and warm air in your face with total freedom while looking at the most amazing landscapes full of rainforest and hills...I will upload some videos I took on youtube later when I have proper Internet. We are still up in a Tribe village on about 1500 meters above sea level...This is pretty much what you would call "in the middle of no where"

At one place they were drying these palm leaves to make "cut-edge" brooms
Views views....Damn it's nice to drive here!
They even have banana trees with bananas around the road here
Stopped for a short break...
We also met Spider Man here by the mountains.... :)

Sunday, January 30

Di Linh --> Da Lat - Day 5

It's cool up in the mountains so today we actually had to wear pants and jackets while riding from Di Linh. no wonder, this place is around 1200 meters above sea level. I woke up very early in the morning because it was so cold in the hotel room, they only had a very thin cover to sleep with. luckily after tomorrow we are heading "lower" and will get warmer as we drive now.
Our first stop today was a mushroom farm where they grow fungus on these bags that have been fertilized so that the mushroom will grow fast. Growing these mushrooms is fairly easy and from 1 kilos you can get about $1,5 which is a pretty good deal. Looked funny with row after row of these shrooms, Mario would have been a happy man here!
The next stop was not far away, just a 30 minute ride and we reached the biggest chicken in Vietnam...The story behind it is pretty long...

Basically, there were two neighbouring tribes. They didnt get on well so they didnt really have inter-tribal marriages. Once apon a time, a guy and a girl from each tribe fell in love. In these Matriarchal societies, the guy's family pays a dowry to the girl's family. Because the guys family was against the marriage between the two lovers they told the girls family that the dowry would be a chicken with 9 spurs. Normal roosters have 6 spurs (3 on each leg) so a chicken with 9 does not exist.

In order to marry her love, the girl went off into the jungle to find such a rooster and dies in the jungle. After a while the guy went into the jungle to search for his love. He searched and searched, but also died.

Today, reminded by the story of the two Romeo and Juliet tribe members, the two peoples are allowed to get married. The large concrete chicken is there to remind the people that true love knows no boundaries ------- all together now..... 'AAAAAWWWWWHHHHH'

They made the chicken hollow so that you could climb into it but let me tell you, it's VERY VERY narrow inside! I tried to stick my head out of it's mouth but no way! My chest is way too big to pass the iron bars that have been put there, but I did manage to get half way out. Took a long time to get up there because I had to climb through this very narrow "throat" of the chicken which took some time because there was nothing to hold unto. If i would have slipped i would have fallen a good 2 meter down BANG into the concrete...But luckily those years of tree climbing as a kid sorted it out.

Something came out of the chicken...
After that there were countless of beautiful scenery's by the mountains and everything was pretty much eye candy...
After a long drive we arrive at Da Lat...It is also a mountain village and we are still wearing jackets here. Maybe that for the best too because we got so much sun yesterday and got a few red spots here and there. 2 crabs on a bikes...

Just outside downtown they had build a "Crazy House" which certainly is one of the most awesome looking houses in Vietnam, if not in the world! The owner and architect is a woman who did half of her studies in different parts of China and then masters and doctors in Moscow. You can rent a room here for 30-80 dollars a night, depending on the size etc. In the daytime it's sort of a exhibition where everyone can come and watch. The entrance tickets go from around $1,5
The whole thing is like a Alice in Wonderland

Da Lat has a really beautiful Pagoda with a temple next to it which is around 30 m high. The details on the temple are spectacular! This is a Buddhist temple so when entering please remember to take off your shoes!

In the Pagoda they have Vietnams biggest bell, people put a lot of wishes and prayers on it!

This 30 meter statue is completely made out of dried flowers...the work it took to make this is incredible!!
Da Lat also has the first train station built in Vietnam by the French when they occupied this place and made it into a colony. It was built in the 1930s and still stands here, they even have the original steam train here which James was trying to operate...

Saturday, January 29

Pan Thiet --> Di Linh - Day 4

Today has been the most awesome day for cruising with bikes! We left Phan Thiet in the morning around 9 after some great omelet with baguette, ice coffee and fresh orange juice!

First thing in the morning was to go see the biggest skeleton of a Fin Whale in Phan Thiet. This was the first place we saw some other tourist in this town, a big group of French were also admiring this 65 ton 22 meters huge whale sceleton which was found on Phan Thiet beach 1768.

The traffic in Phan Thiet was very very crowded, people changing lanes by waving their hand, bikers driving the wrong lane and people crossing the street without a warning. Crazy as it may sound we didn't have a single "close call" situation. The traffic is much like "Organized Chaos"

Phan Thiet had a war memorial put up into the city, this little fishing village was still very poor about 10 years ago but when the price of fish went up a lot of people came here to look for their fortune. The amounts of boats here is huge! Wonder how many kgs of fish they pull up daily....No wonder the amount of fish in decreasing in the world...

One of the best "cruising" roads was just outside Phan Thiet, 3 lanes and not a single car or bike as far as the eye can see mixed with amazing views! We stopped so many times for pictures of this area but here are some of the best ones.
For some reason the wind has blown sand from the beaches into one certain territory and made it look like a dessert. There is sand as far as the eye can see!
Today we also did something neither of us never would have thought of doing....We rode an Osterich! They had an actual Osterich farm in the middle of this jungle, cost about $1.5 but it was really worth it. A lot of fun but the bird kept hissing and showing it's tounge and looking angry. Getting an Ostrich is definetly a potential pet for the future! The views by the farm was formed by stone sediment, you can really see different layers which have been formed by years and years of time.
A short drive from the farm and we arrived at some temples from the 13th century. They were build by the Cham people who fought the Vietnamese for a long time until they finally captulated and just suddenly left. Now the only Cham people you can find in Vietnam are around Hanoi and the north. Temple was located on a mountain top, very very great spot!

View from the temples on the hill, do you like reading this in the office Hede?

After all the fun stuff we started driving up the mountains and the views from there were absolutley breathtaking! The way up to the mountains was small and narrow - the corners were really sharp so we had to lean a LOT on the bike to get it turned properly. Some were really dead turn 180 degrees and you pretty much had to lean all your weight to one side to get it turn and put some speed on so the bike would not fall over. Luckily the traffic was very quiet so not much problems there. The view from the mountain peak at 1200M was STUNNING! I don't even know how to expalin in words how it is to drive around in mountains with the warm and fresh air in your face with a bike doing 70km/h and having total freedom with the most beautiful view there is...

Just before reaching our destination at Di Linh we went to see a waterfall. Like everything, it was worth the while coming here. The road was MAX 1m wide, stony, bumpy and impossible to access by anything else than foot or motorbikes. I have never driven offroad like this before.
We are staying in a mountain village called Di Linh tonight, it even has WiFi! Today we drove around 170 km with the bikes, BY FAR the most amazing driving we had! The weather was sunny ALL day and the sun was shining like never before, the amount of tan we got these 3 days is more than I ever have got on beaches because we sit outside ALL day driving. Today's dinner: Vietnamese Pho, add some Lime, Pepper, Chilli sauce and you have yourself a great piece of dinner.