So I left off last time as I had made it down the country to Kontum, which is here on a map. So let’s get busy and vroom vroom all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City!
DAY 6: KONTUM – BUON MA THUOT | DISTANCE COVERED 298km
So it was actually on the morning of day 6 that I found the wooden church of Kontum. By the way, I stayed in Room 101 in Kontum! And not for the first time, I seemed to always end up in Room 101…maybe the universe trying to tell me something? Haha.
So funny story – when I searched online for places of interest and things to do in Kontum I found this place. So I thought that I would go and check it out. I found a church that was in the approximate location and thought that it must be it. It was this church actually:
So I think, ok this is an interesting church I guess. But it was closed and so I took a few pics and went and sat in the little garden next to it to get my dose of church peace! There were two people sitting there already. One young girl, probably in her twenties and an older woman. The girl instantly starts talking to me and tells me to sit down next to her. She is extremely enthusiastic to talk to me! I don’t think I will be getting my silent time in the churchyard after all, haha. She continues to ask me whether I have a girlfriend and I tell her no. She asks me if I am travelling alone and various other questions. Then she starts telling me how handsome I am! Ummmm, am I really getting hit on in a churchyard in Vietnam? Is this actually happening I think? Maybe she goes to church to find a man, after all it’s probably a decent place to find a person of similar beliefs to you I guess. This is the churchyard:
Cute isn’t it!
Eventually I ask her about the wooden church and she tells me that no, I am in fact at the wrong church…whoops! Haha. It is apparently down the road. Literally down the road:
Can you see the wooden church of Kontum at the end of the road? Not far away at all! I am amazed that there are two churches so close to each other, especially in an Asian country where I had previously assumed that all you would find would be temples…how ignorant of me!
The wooden church was probably the nicest church I visited in all of Asia. I really liked the design, and the inside was also very aesthetically pleasing!
So after my church visits and being chatted up by a Vietnamese girl in a churchyard, I headed off to have breakfast. I found a small place on the corner of a street run by two old ladies. They didn’t speak any English so I did the sign language to explain that I wanted an omelette with french bread. You can find baguettes everywhere in Vietnam. One of the leftover signs from the French occupation, many years ago. this was my breakfast:
One of the best breakfasts that I remember actually. Very simple, but excellent presentation and the people were so friendly. I think this cost me about $1. Possibly even less actually. Bargain!
After breakfast I make my way towards Pleiku where I have read about a temple there that I want to visit. Along the way, I pass by what appears to look like a museum. I stop outside and take some photos of old Vietnam War vehicles/weapons such as these:
Just as I am snapping away, the army appears and tells me off for taking photos! Ummmm, ok….what are they trying to hide?! And why put them on display if I am not allowed to take photos? All a bit weird to me. There is a big gate that is manned by army soldiers and I attempt to have a conversation with them about whether or not I am allowed in. I come to the conclusion that I am not allowed in and that it is a restricted zone. Maybe an army base? Not sure.
I make it to Pleiku to find a huge statue of Ho Chi Minh, which I think is the largest in all of Vietnam:
So if anyone follows my Instagram feed (instagram.com/quoggybob…FOLLOW ME!), they will know all about the Minh Thanh Temple in Pleiku! So on my way towards Buon Ma Thuot I passed through Pleiku. I had read up on things to see here and it appeared that the main tourist attraction was a temple. When I got there the entrance was closed and a man stopped as he passed me on his bike to tell me that I would have to go around tha back and use the back entrance. Again, the kindness of strangers here is just on another level. He explained how to get there and the temple was empty when I arrived. It turns out that it was undergoing renovations, but I am so glad that I was allowed in anyway as it was without doubt my favourite temple in all of Asia! And that is saying something as I saw a LOT of temples during my travels. Here are a few photos (I took like a million of this place)…I can’t imagine how amazing it will be once finished:
On the left here is the main temple. The gardens surrounding the temple were really beautiful and the whole place had a wonderful vibe to it. There seemed to be small details in every little nook and cranny and the amount of effort put into the design was quite surprising. On the right is the pagoda which is just next to the temple.
There were huge figures literally coming out of the walls which looked like this:
Look one of them is even riding a dragon! How epic is that?!
And inside there was a massive statue of a God with many arms! It looked like this:
It was actually so big that I couldn’t fit it all in my photo!
These are the gardens in front of the temple, with a Buddha statue in the middle of the pond.
Here is a rather scary looking figure towering over the entrance to the main temple. There was one on each side.
The view from the temple. It overlooks the town. Seriously, how amazing is this place!?
Inside the building just behind the pagoda was a room FILLED with Buddha statues. They were all in the process of being painted and a worker there kindly let me in and tried to turn the lights on to show me properly but they didn’t work, so here are some bad quality photos anyway.
I could go on about the beauty of this temple for ages, but it was even more unexpected when I arrived here because I found all of these pictures on the walls…scary!:
I assume that they are depictions of hell or something along those lines. There was no English translation…pretty gruesome stuff eh!?
I really need to go back there once it is finished. More people need to know about this temple! I should have done a blog post solely about the temple…get yourself out there and then spread the word of the Minh Thanh Temple in Pleiku people!
So I make it to Buon Ma Thuot, and quite frankly I am knackered. 6 days riding and seeing as much as I can see along the way is starting to get to me a little I must admit. Everything seemed a bit of a rush. I was still loving life, but just a little drained I guess! So I head straight to KFC! Hahaha. Buon Ma Thuot is a fairly decent sized town and I managed to find some western style fast food. I order my food and just as I sit down to eat, a young girl comes over and sits next to me and insists on taking selfies of me and her on her phone camera. Then she asks me all kinds of questions. To be honest, all I wanted to do was just eat my food in peace. She invites me to go and sit with her and her friends, and I tell her that I will first finish my food and then come over. I just really could not be bothered to make an effort at this present moment in time. A low point hahaha! Really not like me. Anyway, after I have eaten I go and wash my hands in the sink there. When I look at my face I realise that I am COVERED in dirt! Haha. The girl at the counter, and the girl who came to talk to me must have thought what the hell has this guy been up to? I can’t imagine how the selfies would have come out. In fact, maybe that’s why she wanted to take photos with me in the first place! It’s all making sense now, yes. Funny. I didn’t take a photo of myself at the time, but instead here is a photo of me with my face covered in dirt which was actually taken in Cambodia after a day of riding through dusty conditions…pretty much the same result:
When this photo was taken I had stopped to buy a drink on my way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (a 7 hour journey! Lots of ass pain on that one hahaha). I remember the woman there bursting out laughing when she saw my face. Not surprising really! I also remember eating a lot of dirt that day. Not pleasant. Haha.
DAY 7: BUON MA THUOT – DA LAT | DISTANCE COVERED 206km
So I am now here:
I have made it pretty far down the country in one week and have seen many things along the journey. Probably one of the busiest and most enjoyable weeks of my life! And I did it all alone…who needs friends eh!? One thing I have learnt from my travels is how to be much more comfortable and confident on my own. I was on my own a lot throughout various times in my travels, and whilst at first I craved meeting other travellers, over time I gradually accepted that if I was on my own who cares? Experiences shared are amazing, but lone experiences can really aid in personal growth…character building!
There isn’t really that much to see in Buon Ma Thuot. In the morning I went to visit the Ethnographic Museum where I learnt all about the tribes in the area and the history of where various ethnicities settled and what-not. It also touches on the Vietnam War and the progression in the local area with various artefacts on display. The building is pretty cool as well. It looks like this!:
It seems as though I am finding some very interesting architecture in my travels through Vietnam.
Elephant feet and an elephant’s tail on display. Hunted and killed by poachers. These were on display to highlight the illegal poaching activities that occurred in the area and how they had clamped down on such activities. This museum was all rather environmentally friendly actually, with a huge focus on preserving the local nature and wildlife. Thumbs up!
The drive from Buon Ma Thuot to Da Lat was truly stunning (there I go with that phrase again!). I saw sights like this:
Farmers working in the fields, amazing mountain scenery and oh look it’s my lovely bike!
As the day goes on, the weather starts to take a turn for the worse and it starts pissing it down! I am forced to stop at a small roadside cafe. I order a drink and a snack and sit down. The owner sits down next to me and starts chatting to me. He ends up getting out a bag of powder, pours some on the table and then really carefully and slowly mixes it with a couple of drops of tea. He makes some gestures, keeps pointing to this mixture on the table, points to his stomach and possibly even tries to tell me that it is good for the male sex drive! Not too sure really. Then he wipes it up with a glove and laughs hysterically…ummmm ha ha ha…??? Random. Yep, I am clueless as to what the hell it was all about, but he was super friendly and his son was so cute! Look:
“Look at the funny white man taking your photo baby, isn’t he ridiculous looking!”…hmmm, feel free to leave possible captions in the comments section for this one!
OK, so I have been riding for a week in shorts and my tan line looks like this:
Oh, how very attractive indeed! Like a hairy two-tone sausage…or something like that!?
So by the end of day 7 I eventually make it to Da Lat. The roads around here are pretty crazy and the streets don’t really seem to make sense. This was without doubt one of my favourite places in Vietnam. It has its own unique vibe. Kind of reminded me of Nepal in a way…the climate was much cooler and the people there dressed differently.
So I didn’t actually realise how long this journey would actually take to write out (apologies for boring anybody who may still be reading…probably no-one!)…and so I will continue next time!
In Da Lat I went canyoning which was a super fun experience so as a special treat I will edit a little film of the fun I had! It will involve abseiling down waterfalls, cliff jumping, naturally formed water-slides and various other fun stuff like that!
In the meantime, check out my video which I also filmed on a motorbike in Vietnam…this one was filmed in the northernmost regions which is where I was about a month or two later on my return to ‘nam!