The day after our driving tour around Dalat, I got out for my second ride with Phat Tire Adventures. This ride was much better than the first! Before we got mobile I talked to Duong and we agreed to go out for a harder ride, both in distance and pace; the solution was the hardly-ever ridden trail out to Tiger Falls.
The route took us out of Dalat and well into the mountains. We were both feeling pretty good, Duong pushed it as hard as he could which made things fun. Directionally it wasn't too tough, so I could fire ahead of Duong and hammer the hills then double-back to get him. I got a great workout, riding nearly continuously for 3.5hrs.
At 5500ft, the highest point in the ride, we entered an ethnic minority village (the Chill minority). The village holds approx 200 people who subsist on some coffee farming and are essentially dirt-poor. It was a strange contrast - ripping down some decent singletrack, then punching up a nice hilly section which topped out on a small plateau consisting of a small hard-baked mud section surrounded by roughly built wooden longhouses. During the couple of minutes that Duong chatted with the villagers I locked eyes with a small boy, maybe three years old. He was wearing a filthy ragged t-shirt and nothing else. I can still see his partially vacant gaze in my mind's-eye. According to Duong there aren't too many mountain bikers going through those parts, much less a white guy who's only word was "Hi".
The next day we were on a six hour bus ride to Nha Trang so we could fly on to Danang with our final destination being Hoi An. During that trip I thought about that little boy a lot.
Here are a couple of photos taken during a break after a couple of hours on the bus. It was a pineapple bonanza, I bought some and it was quite good, the same can't be said for the dried persimmons that Doreen got, they are still on the bus. ;-)
While there I used the lavatoire, which was essentially a line of squat toilets in tin shacks and tarps hung on the edge of the mountain slope. As I came back up the steps one of the guys sitting near the steps entrance tried to fleece me for a charge to use the toilets. I had watched the locals get off the bus and none of them paid before I decided to use it. I told him "No one else paid", his response "Yeah you pay", my response "I don't think so". No cash exchanged. It's principle that counts.
We stopped one more time for lunch. It was a typical fly-infested bus stop, where no doubt the drivers eat for free. If you ever think about this kind of food-stop, stick to the cracker's in you pack or ehrrmmm, well, the cracker's.