At lot of miles today, so this five - a - day was added this morning!
As we had a long way to go today it was another 7.30am start on our bikes. We stay in these rather grand hotels and then trot out wearing our brightly coloured tops and skin tight shorts...
To warm our legs up we did a circuit of the lake before heading out of town on the rolling hills. Through the roadside villages, catching glimpses of everyday life. Because Dalat is in the Vietnam Highlands they days are much cooler, so there were moments of goosebumps to begin with. A novel experience!
First stop was the old French Railway Station, now no longer in use due to being bombed heavily during the war. But there is still a working steam train which takes visitors up and down a shop stretch of line.
These rather beautiful flowers were also growing, part morning glory part Lilly, they were delicate and fine. Before we started rolling through the mountain plateau I needed a rear wheel change and all our breaks were checked over...
As we climbed up we rode through lush farm land with the huge greenhouses full of vegetables and flowers. They seemed to go on for mile after mile. This area is also renowned for it's strawberries as well.
See the blue van driving off into the distance?, that's our bike truck and where the huge blocks of ice are stored in the boxes.
Everywhere you looked the scenery was stunning, the forests are mostly pine at this level, although we were soon passing through acre after acre of coffee plantations.
There doesn't seem to be anywhere the coffee bush can't grow, often the strip fields are terraced into the hillside. Seems impossible really, so I shouldn't moan about the slope on my allotment!
Soon we were heading up high again and passing through tiny villages where some of the smallest cultural groups live. One little boy gave me a very cheerful 'hello' and a high five! And I swear I was whistled at in one village, but I bet it was just a bird ;-) Talking of birds, I can hear but not really see them, although kingfishers are everywhere and those I do see perched on the telegraph wires.
This lady was busy turning the coffee beans as they dried out in the warm sun, but when she saw me taking photos she quickly made a decorative pose!
See that heavy cloud cover? It was a meant to be a gentle ride today, despite all the hills, but it turned out to be anything but! A true Vietnamese experience - monsoon rain.
It's a wonder I managed any cycling because the hills were getting steeper and steeper,
but there is so much to see your legs just get on with turning the pedals and so you don't realise how the miles are passing.
When I see these terraces planted up I am amazed at just how remote farming can be here in Vietnam.
The dark clouds carried on getting larger and larger, and typically just as we started another stage of the journey the heavens opened. Now we can say we have truelly experienced Vietnam!
I don't know why we bothered with the rain gear, at one point my sleeves were acting as reservoirs so I had to stop and empty them!
There are no photographs...naturally. It took all my energy to keep upright and steer. 30 km down hill, so steep I had both brakes on as hard as I could pull and still I was doing over 20 mph. Still I couldn't complain I was too hot, although strangely we kept passing through warm patches and then as we came lower down the rain started to stop and the air warm.
Still only halfway down the mountains...
... and we are going to the very bottom.
A really great cafe was waiting for us at the bottom. This was the view were I ate the best fried egg roll I have ever had and the fresh lemon soda just hit the spot...
... and I could finally pour the water from my shoes and put my socks to dry!
Still another 40 km to go, but compared to that it was a walk in the park. Even when I had to cycle with the guys trying to stay ahead of the rain clouds. Never have I gone so fast for so long, but they said I had to start training for the London Prudential 100 ! Doubled my average speed anyhow, even if I couldn't walk afterwards ;-)
Thankfully the last 30 minutes were in the bus as we went into Tran Phu. Two days here, no cycling tomorrow, it's a rest day so just swimming and snorkelling from the boat and generally being on holiday.