Google Earth and a tank of gas
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 120 of 126 › view all entries
Google Earth shows a second railroad tunnel six miles north of Nha Trang but vegetation there was too thick to even see its northern entrance, let alone gain access. Then out on Highway 1 I got sidetracked altogether by a new road under construction. When completed, the new route will be the 7th that links Nha Trang to Highway 1 which runs north-south about 7 miles inland. I followed the unmapped project back toward the city.
A big truck was being loaded with boulders where the future four-lane knifed through a pass. Steeply cut hillsides exposed hard rock. Nearby tire tracks led to a large rock quarry that was partially filled with turquoise colored water. It reminded me of mountain tarns that I had seen in the Rockies, the Himalayas, Alaska, and New Zealand.
Another rough and rocky trail led upward and I found myself four-wheeling with your basic 100cc Yamaha motorbike. A Sirius. Views became spectacular. I looked down over the pass, the pond, and the entire new route from Highway 1 to the northern tip of the city. More quarries etched gray valleys into rich green hills. Bouncing, skidding, and sliding over loose and jagged rocks, I was shuddering at the possibility of a flat just moments before actually getting one. Back tire. The Sirius ride became serious. I slowly wobbled off the hill wondering if the tube or tire would be ruined but didn't really care, I was too far from town to walk it, even downhill.
Once back in civilization I didn't have to continue far to find a roadside kiosk that had a mechanic in the family. Thumbing the inner tube through a pan of water we only found one leak. While the mechanic applied a patch his wife or mother brought me an iced coffee along with a small pot of Vietnamese tea. Complimentary tea in the city is usually served iced but here it was hot which was comforting on such an unseasonably cold, overcast, and windy day. Cost for both the tire repair and refreshments was 20,000 VND (U.S.$1.00).
Some of the houses across the road were already being demolished for the approaching four-lane. Behind those I found the railroad tracks and knew that the south entrance to the tunnel was close by. The last house was just around a bend from it but the homeowner was adamant about not letting me proceed on foot. I didn't argue and settled for a photo. Across the tracks stood a hillside cemetery which might provide sight of the tunnel but the only gate that I found was locked shut. That's okay, I'll be back. Google Earth and a tank of gas is a great way to explore far off lands, even before they're mapped.