Dalat – Phan Rang (110km, 68mi) (elev 10m). Two mammoth drops to the coastal plains – 50k of flat.
Points of interest: Linh Phuoc Pagoda (9km), terraced hillsides, cog railway (damaged by VC in 1964), Po Klong Garai Cham tower (104km), Thanh Son Airbase (US)
|The area around Dalat is know for its diverse agriculture, specifically organic flowers and vegetables.|
|The exterior (left) and interior (right) of Linh Phuoc Pagoda. Inside, the panels around the main prayer hall tell the story of Buddha's life; birth, journey, enlightenment, teaching, and passing on. Below are other momuments, pagodas, gardens and features of the temple.|
|Women working as a group to hand
embroider a scene (left).
A mountain river in a valley it has cut (right) add another picturesque view from the road.
|Terraced agricultural lands (left). In different sections of the route the main crops were vegetables, coffee, tea, and down on the coastal plain, tobacco. Near Don Duong is the dam reservoir (right) that serve the Lam Son hydroelectric project, 2300 feet down the mountain.|
|The top of the last long descent was market by a shrine (left). From the nearby view point we could see 35 kilometers (20 miles) of descent ahead of us (right). Historically a cog railroad ran up the ridge to the right of the picture. This was destroyed by the Vietcong in 1964. You can still follow the rail bed all the way to Dalat, but the railroad has never been restored.|
|For mile after mile the road winds and switchbacks its way down through forests. Every once in awhile you notice that the temperature has gotten a few degrees warm and the humidity has raised a few points as well. Breaking up the forest are a few streams cascading over the rocks.|
|Most of the water coming out of the
mountains is coming through a long penstock which starts at the dam near Don
Duong (elev 900 M) and ends at the hydroelectric project at Lam Son (elev 200
M). A 700 meter vertical column of water should give a pretty good push to
turbines. Lam Son and the hills around it were a Vietcong strong hold
during the war with the U.S.
Addendum: We received this in an email: "I was an Army Engineer officer in a base camp at the hydroelectric dam in Don Duong for one year. I frequently travelled to DaLat - the trp was very risky. I helped build the road you travelled coming down the mountain. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your presentation."
|Even under the threatening skies, the color and organization of this Catholic cemetery near Ninh Son catch my eye.|
|The Po Klong Garai Cham towers are seeing new development. Previously, isolated and somewhat ignored on a rural hilltop, there is now a large new tourists complex / visitors center at the bottom of the hill (left). When finished it is suppose to have restaurants and accommodations.|
|The towers are pretty well intact. They have had some obvious restoration done, like a cement tablet of Sanskrit at the door.|
|In the main tower a shrine has been set up. Having been abandon over a couple century ago, most Champ towers in the country are complete bare. I wasn't able to determine whether This display had any authenticity what so ever.|
|The former Thanh Son Airbase (US), now used by the Vietnamese army. So in the course of the day we came from the neutral city of Dalat, passed through the former Vietcong strong hold in the hills and arrived at the former US "beach head" on the coastal plain.|
|A street-side breakfast vendors and a group of students stopping by to see what is happening on their way to school.|
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