Notes from a Rainy Da Lat

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Bob and I flew down to the coastal town of Nha Trang, where the Miss Universe pageant was just held on Monday. After staying in a cheap motel ("The Perfume Grass Inn") overnight, we hired motor scooters and wandered up the mountains to Da Lat in the Highlands of Central South Viet Nam.

After travelling along the river flatlands for forty or 50 kilometres, we began to ascend sharply up the mountain on a brand spanking new road which was just a delight! With my backpack strapped on the back of the bike, and computer bag slung around the front between my legs, I must have looked quite a sight, and received lots of cheery greetings as we motored along through villages and past fields and paddies.

Once we travelled 50 kilometres the fun really started though, with the steep ascent from the coastal fringe giving way to a sharp incline on a new road which ate it's way into the mountain with spectacular views across the valleys which grew ever steeper as we climbed.

It was spectacular, virgin country, the road carved into impossible mountain sides and unfinished, it had still been subject to multiple landslides taking out huge swathes of road and barriers, proving that the retaining walls were not capable of retaining sufficiently.

It was frontier territory, even in this heavily populated and cultivated land, this are had proved too difficult. Now, once the pass had been crossed, shacks had been constructed of paperbark trunks and tarpaulins, or, further up the mountain in new frontier villages, planks of wood from local timber, swept dirt floors and shuttered, glass-less windows to keep the chilly mle-high mountain wind and rain out.

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