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3 Day Easy Rider Tour Dalat to Nha Trang - Day 3

sunny 30 °C

Good Morning World! It is the 8th of April and day three of our three day Easy Rider adventure from Dalat to Nha Trang.

Here is a rough map of the adventure we have been undertaking (google doesn’t have all the villages):

Today we are heading out of the mountains and down to the coast to our final destination, Nha Trang. On the way we stopped at some rubber tree plantations, cocoa farms, and pepper farms.

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^^ Rubber tree plantation
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^^ Collecting the rubber sap
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^^ Cocoa plant
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^^ Kirby learning about cocoa
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^^ Pepper drying
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^^ Freshly picked pepper
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^^ Dried pepper

One of the really cool places we stopped at was a wood furniture store. The men go out to the forest and collect the tree stumps and roots that fell victim to Agent Orange and illegal logging. They carve the most beautiful tables and chairs, dressing tables, and statues. You can pick up a full set of table and chairs, hand carved for around $400.

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^^ Dressing table in construction
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^^ Seat in construction

Most of the day was spent on the road as we had a fair few kilometres to cover before we hit the coast. The road we were travelling on used to be the US army’s major transport thoroughfare through the central highlands to support the northern bases at the frontline, and as a consequence it was the most ambushed mountain pass during the war. This unfortunately means it was also one of the most heavily Agent Orange sprayed areas in Vietnam and the landscape was noticeably scarred by the deadly toxin. In some places you could even make out the flight path of the plane, with rainforest on either side of a desolate poison highway.

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In recent years the land has now been able to support cultivation of rice fields as the poison sinks deeper into the soil; beneath the roots of the rice plants. However, when it comes to the rainforest in the area it is a different story.
Basically the forest grows normally until it reaches a certain height and the roots touch the Agent Orange that is sinking down into the soil. When the forest reaches this level everything dies and the once blossoming rainforest becomes a defoliated barren tragedy, a stark contrast to the rainforest we encountered in the deep Mekong. As you pass through this area an eerie feeling that something is missing niggles at your mind. It took us a while to work out what it was; birds. We didn’t encounter, nor hear, a single bird our entire time passing through this area, a strange occurrence considering there was no cities nearby or any other obvious reason for there not to be birds; obviously another fallout effect of the war.

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What the local people are now doing, instead of watching the forest continually struggle with dying and recovering, are planting Australian gum trees along the affected hillsides; as they grow tall before their roots hit the Agent Orange; they then cut them down and sell the wood. This is only temporary though, as the government has a strong stance on revegetating the devastated lands when the poison sinks further down and they are able to mend the forest. If only the DNA of the people could be mended to stop such a high occurrence of birth defects.

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Finally after a long day on the bike we exited Rotuong Pass where the rail, road, sky, and sea meet on the outskirts of Nha Trang. It is prawn farms galore around this area and we stopped to chat with some local fisherman and prawn farmers. Just as TiTi and Kirby were driving off to head into Nha Trang city Hiep mentioned that I had Science degree with a focus on animals and that I had also done some study on aquaculture and marine biology. As it turns out every single fisherman needed someone like me to work on their prawn and fish farms, and they were all gunning for me. After 35 minutes, some awkward laughing on my behalf, and about a thousand handshakes I had guaranteed myself a lifetime of work if I ever decided to stay in the area. Meanwhile in the city Kirby was having visions of a squashed Kyle on the road as we were considerably late. Thankfully I wasn’t squashed, just flustered from all the attention :).

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^^ Rail
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^^ Meets the road, sky, and sea

So this was it, we had arrived in Nha Trang after 4 days of action packed adventure with the Easy Riders. A few big hugs from the guys later (very cute) and we were all alone in our hotel room, left to reflect on what was our best experience in Vietnam yet.

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I would recommend for anyone and everyone to take a chance with the Easy Riders, they certainly aren’t a gimmick or a rip-off, and they provided us with insight into the history, culture, and way of life of the Vietnamese people that we would never had acknowledged had we not tore up our bus ticket from Dalat to Nha Trang.

Hiep and TiTi were amazing chaperons with great English, and the whole experience felt more like hanging out with two old friends than tour guides. So if you ever find yourself in the mountain town of Dalat in the central highlands of Vietnam, search out these guys, you won’t be disappointed!

Tomorrow we explore Nha Trang, and rest our weary bums, haha.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 22:34 Archived in Vietnam Tagged road_trip dalat poison nha_trang easy_riders agent_orange easy_rider titi hiep motorbike_tour toxin rotuong_pass aquaculture Comments (1)

3 Day Easy Rider Tour Dalat to Nha Trang - Day 2

sunny 33 °C

Last night we stayed in Buon Jun village and it was awesome. Not the best night’s sleep but a true experience. The sounds all night from the buffalo, pigs, dogs, and chickens was like listening to Mother Nature’s iPod, and I had a real sense that I was definitely making the most of this homestay.

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The morning began with breakfast at a little café outside of the village as we watched elephants and their mahout’s pass by.

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After our bellies were full of rice we headed out for the day. First stop was a brick factory. It was surprisingly run by mostly women but they were churning out huge amounts of bricks! How it works is they dig up heaps of clay from nearby and throw it into a pressing machine that spits out the long wet brick, and then the brick gets a fancy insignia rolled onto it and is cut by string into smaller more manageable sizes. The video gives you a better idea than me trying to explain it. I’ve never seen bricks get made, maybe this is the standard way, either way it was pretty cool.

  • * The Video Will Come Later When The Internet Is Not So Crap **

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Just down the road from the brick factory is the ancient Giang Son Catholic Church. Apparently during the war it was a big beautiful hideout for the Vietcong so the Americans bombed the shit out of it and only the front of the church survived. Now it just stands as a relic amid the rice fields.

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^^ Local boys admiring the tourists
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^^ These two ladies fell off their overloaded bike and thought it was hilarious, so I took a photo

A little further down the road we stopped and visited a sugar and mushroom producing family. During our time looking at the sugar being produced I noticed one of the family members slowly walking behind us before re-joining the rest of them sitting around the table, then the next one would stand up and nonchalantly wander behind us. When the next person did it I thought something was suss and watched her out of the corner of my eye. Turns out what they were doing was one-by-one walking past and admiring Kirby’s white skin. When we were leaving one of the girls came over and told Kirby that her blonde hair and white skin was stunning and she was very beautiful. Blushing occurred. On a side note – you have to be really careful what skin creams/sunscreen you purchase while in South East Asia as it is common for them to contain bleach to whiten your skin.

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^^ Sugar! Hiep and TiTi grabbed a big block for us both and were like 'try it' so we were walking around suckling on a huge chunk of sugar, my pancreas hurt.
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^^ Mushrooms - yummy!

Back on the bike for more riding through the beautiful countryside before we entered Eatling National Park. A striking, protected, open-woodland full of waterfalls and swimming holes. We visited Gia Long waterfall and then headed off to cool down. Getting to the waterhole was a challenge in itself. Hiep and TiTi wanted to take us to a swimming hole that we would have all to ourselves and that meant going a bit off the beaten track. Turned out we had to descend down the side of the hill/mountain before reaching our oasis. It was heaps of fun but a bit scary as a fall could result in some serious damage in a remote location. But since I’m writing this we didn’t die :).

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^^ Hiep guiding us to the water hole, haha
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^^ Eatling Park
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^^ Gia Long Waterfall

After cooling off and chilling out we just walked around taking pictures and admiring the landscape, we also ran into a park ranger. When you imagine a park ranger you think of a man in a ute, with a wide-brimmed hat and a walkie talkie. In Vietnam the park rangers are decked out in full military apparel and wield massive machine guns and machetes. Fairly intense, but around here there is a lot of illegal logging and what better a deterrent than a machine gun?!

It was now nearing the end of the day and we found ourselves in Buon Ma Thuot where Hiep and TiTi treated us to a 4 star hotel, the best we have been in all trip! Good times, good times.

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^^ As you enter Buon Ma Thuot
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^^ Feasting on Spring Rolls

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 21:49 Archived in Vietnam Tagged churches children road_trip vietnam feasting dalat easy_riders machine_gun easy_rider titi hiep motorbike_tour buon_jun brick_making giang_son eatling_park gia_long Comments (0)

Goodbye Australia


View 1st Day Mekong Trip & Ho Chi Minh & Goodbye Australia on KyleMac's travel map.

4000km’s driven over 45 hours, 3 states, 1 territory, 2 weddings, 2 flights, multiple sad goodbyes and you are now getting an idea of the last couple of weeks that we have had during Australia on our mission to say goodbye to our friends and family as we prepare to head off on the adventure of a lifetime.

I guess I better introduce myself, how rude! My name is Kyle Macdonald, I’m 22 years old, I was born in Mackay North Queensland – Australia and have lived up in the hot tropics all my life. After finishing school I attended James Cook University in Townsville and acquired a Bachelor of Science with a major in Zoology. After graduating we moved to Cairns and lived and worked for a year to gather some funds for this adventure, but ended up leaving with much more.
Before I go any further it only seems logical that I introduce the ‘we’ and ‘our’ I have been referring to. I met a bright eyed girl called Kirby at university and upon further investigation I discovered she shared a similar dream and enthusiasm for travel and we really hit it off. Long-story-short we are loving each other and finally about to begin this quest INTO THE UNKNOWN. So now you know a little bit about me.
Our journey begins in Cairns where we decided to live for a year to gather the necessary ‘mula’ for this trip, however, as I was saying before we acquired much more than funds. During our search for a place to live we stumbled across a sharehouse full of Japanese travellers and students who decided to call Cairns home for a short time and we joined them. After a few days we realised that this wasn’t an ordinary sharehouse. The owners of the house, Angelo & Jo, lived upstairs and treated everyone in the sharehouse downstairs as if they were extended family and before we knew it 12 months had past and Kirby and I were leaving Cairns having made friends for life.
After leaving Cairns we drove 8 hours south to Mackay to farewell my family. We then drove another 12 hours southwest to Dalby where Kirby was a bridesmaid for a friend we met while studying at uni. After the wedding it was another hellish 25 hour drive to Victor Harbor in South Australia where I farewelled my Mum, Dad, and Grandma. As I am writing this we are flying from Adelaide to Sydney for Kirby’s uncles wedding and then from Sydney to Darwin to farewell Kirby’s parents and on the28th of March 2011 we are flying from Darwin to Ho Chi Minh city, VIETNAM!!!
Our plan is to backpack throughout Asia up into Europe and if permitted flying to South America and backpack up to the north. We have never backpacked before and no doubt I will have some interesting stories to post throughout our travels. So if you think this might interest you keep an eye on this blog ;)

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 18:58 Archived in Australia Tagged me road_trip australia vietnam weddings Comments (1)

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