Michal Košátko on the way to Dalat, Vietnam

Vietnam: Road trip from Saigon to Da Lat

The motorbike was ready but before going out of the city I still needed to manage 2 topics. I drove to the post office to send one small Christmas present to Marseille. The lady behind the counter was checking with doubt my book in foreign language and I had a feeling there might be some restrictions related to abroad shipping of documents, magazines and books. She was listing in it for a minute, checking with the colleagues but then accepted, packed and handled the paperwork.

Next task was to visit of Viettel company to get my local phone card. The prices are cheap and the data connection amazing. For 5,30 USD (4,50 EUR) I got 8 GB of data and even in the middle of nowhere I did not have any signal blackout. The mobile card you get needs to be registered on your name so take your passport and visit only official Viettel shop otherwise it might happen that your card will be disconnected within a week after buying unofficially.

Michal Košátko with his motorbike on the way from HCMC to Hanoi, Vietnam
Michal Košátko with his motorbike on the way from HCMC to Hanoi, Vietnam

To get out of the Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) was not quick and I needed to do some retours because of restricted roads for motorbikes. That is something what Google Maps do not show. It took me nearly 3 hours to leave that 8,5 million big city and reach the suburb. Running out of the local currency I needed to find some ATM. All the fuel payments are done by cash and I did not find any gas station during my journey where I would be able to use a credit card. Being already behind the city I had some doubts but the maps showed me a way. After 15 minutes of drive I got to the cash machine literally in the middle of nowhere, far from the village and stuck to the big industrial hall. No idea what business is running here but happy to get my Vietnamese millions.

One hour later the heavy rain started and being slowly dark, I decided to stop, get some accomodation and dinner although still being near HCMC. Two meals, two drinks, tasty food, price 5 USD (4,20 EUR) for all and with satisfication I went to sleep.

Next day after breakfast I started my drive up north towards Tx. Gia Nghia city. I did few stops for lunch and coffee and enjoyed the drive through villages and small cities. Many coffee shop offer only hammocks to lay down and no chair. I was also surprised by a Vietnamese coffee that uses condensed milk in it and it gets therefore a specific flavor.

It took me about 5 hours to get to that 183 km distant town and afterwards next 30 minutes to find a hotel that was wrongly located on the map. Thanks to the street food seller I got my direction and also a tasty dinner. Surprisingly he spoke English unlike anybody from the hotel reception.

In the morning I packed all my stuff, paid the hotel and the mini bar that I emptied and continued further towards Da Lat city. That route was recommended by a French guy I met in HCMC and I decided to follow his advice instead of going through Mui Ne. The road brought me to picturesque sceneries of local lakes and mountains lined by small villages and fields. When stopping to buy some food in local market the people were watching me like they never saw a foreigner. That actually happened to me several times during the way up north.

Michal Košátko on the way to Dalat, Vietnam
Michal Košátko on the way to Dalat, Vietnam

In the evening I reached Da Lat, a city in the mountains with its bright coloured houses. There was still time for a short sightseeing and nice barbecue in a nearby restaurant. Again few children were orbiting around my table so I offered them some roasted corn and few pieces of chicken. Happy small faces.

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