Ride to the clouds

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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Water buffalos
 

My 100cc Yamaha was old and battered; typical of a one-day $2.50 rental. Its odometer had been disconnected at 100 kilometers and I doubted the 'low mileage' could ever increase its resale value. Another 50,000 Dong filled the tank with three liters of gasoline and I was surprised that the gauge actually worked. I rattled on rough roads around the rugged hills west of Nha Trang. Around one bend, the road was blocked by a small herd of water buffalo being led to greener pastures. Some of the older beasts looked as scarred and weathered as the rented motorbike. I wondered if they might charge my red shirt but they streamed by on either side.

 

I intercepted Highway 1 at the village of Suoi Cat.

Tropical lake
Less than a mile up that route I found a small bridge across the Suoi Dau River and continued my way toward the Central Highlands. A huge lake at the base of the higher hills was lined with tropical vegetation. I didn't see any boats or people fishing. The route climbed upward along the Suoi Dau River. Its water was low, being the end of the dry season, so I didn't  stop at either of its rocky waterfalls. December or January would be the prime time for this trip.

 

Beyond the river, the blacktop road climbed steeply. The Yamaha's engine bogged and surged on some of the inclines as its clutch slipped with each gear change. My ears popped after one hair-pin turn; temperature dropped at another. As I climbed into the clouds, it looked and felt like rain but I continued on, refreshed by the cold air.

Road to the clouds
The switch-back road showed evidence of frequent landslides with red clay stains across it and huge boulders beside it. Fallen mahogany trees had been moved to keep the route clear though I saw no other traffic. Craters in the blacktop were from fallen boulders.

 

Finally, nearly a mile above sea level (1500 meters) and 60 kilometers from Nha Trang, I reached the end of the road on Hon Ba Mountain. A clear day would offer nice views all the way to the South China Sea but I was in the clouds. A gray house there was built in 1915 as a research station. The Swiss bacteriologist Alexander Yersin used the area to acclimate quinine trees imported from the Andes Mountains in South America. That tree provided the prevention and cure for malaria. Yersin died in 1943 in Nha Trang and his home there is currently a museum. The physician-bacteriologist is well known and respected throughout Vietnam.

Yersin's house - research station

 

A motorbike and a white car were parked in the dirt lot. I declined a Heineken beer offered by a small group picnicking on a blue tarp in the front yard of the house. I preferred spending limited time up there exploring the woods and hiked  three-quarters of a mile into damp semi-tropical forest. A soft trail on fallen leaves led me under naturally felled trees and around moss-covered boulders. Some of the mushrooms looked just like those I had seen in Bavaria in September. It looked like wild hogs had scarred some areas but the only wildlife that I saw were mosquitoes swarming my head.

 

goezi says:
G'day Dan, want to gad about this country myself in the future. I'll keep an eye on your tale mate. C
Posted on: Apr 26, 2010
Dr_Seuss says:
Should have taken the Heineken for Ron. Later on ;)
Posted on: Apr 21, 2010
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Water buffalos
Water buffalos
Tropical lake
Tropical lake
Road to the clouds
Road to the clouds
Yersins house - research station
Yersin's house - research station
Bridge at Suoi Cat
Bridge at Suoi Cat
Moss-covered boulders
Moss-covered boulders
Fallen trees
Fallen trees
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85