Pleiku to Dak Glei

More pictures than words this week. I’m not feeling too well.

I made a mistake. The morning before we got to Dak Glei, I was dealing with a small headache and some achiness/tiredness I just chalked up to the climbing that we’d been doing. But the guesthouse we were at had no window and was pretty dirty, and we were both eager to get back on the road. So I took some ibuprofen, forced myself to drink a liter of water, and pushed through the day. Turns out that that morning I was dehydrated, and by the time we rolled into Dak Glei, the small headache had turned into a nasty fever and dizzyness. I spent a night not getting a wink of sleep, my core temperature doing strange fluctuations and with Sophie forcing me to drink water and isotonic drinks. We weren’t planning to do a rest day today, but I certainly wasn’t up to the huge climbing (~4500 ft total) that awaits us tomorrow.

Just getting into the highlands.
Just getting into the highlands.

Anyways, I’m sorry if this post is slightly less coherent than the others. I’m still a little woozy, but I fortunately have Sophie here to take care of me.

Highlights from Kon Tum include this huge wooden church. Christian missionaries have done their work up here.
Highlights from Kon Tum include this huge wooden church. Christian missionaries have done their work up here.

These last few days of riding have been pretty tough. A lot of up and down as we’ve gotten further into the central highlands. I actually prefer this type of riding, although you aren’t really able to go as far during a day. The sights are unquestionably better than in Cambodia and most of Thailand, and the days aren’t as monotonous. Each day of riding is a little like a 3-4 hour series of windsprints. Another good thing about being in Vietnam is that we trust the food a bit more than in Cambodia, and it’s more avaliable. We can pretty much stop whenever we want and pick up a Banh Mi sandwich, or a bowl of Pho.

Cool trees.
Cool trees.
War memorials.
War memorials.

In this part of the country, pretty much every town we pass through has some sort of relevance to the Vietnam War. Kon Tum and Dak To were each the site of major battles, and we came across an abandoned airstrip and base at Tanh Canh (Americans called it “Tin Can”). We haven’t found any of these guys, but I’ve heard others talk about coming across Americans up here who run businesses trying to recover remains of fallen soldiers. War memorials are everywhere, with tanks and huge statues of soldiers carrying AK-47s. We’ve enjoyed resting our legs while reading up on the battles. To summarize most of our reading: “US/South Vietnamese tactical victory, Communist strategic victory” and the quote from U.S. Marine Corps General John Chaisson “Is it a victory when you lose 362 friendlies in three weeks and by your own spurious body count you only get 1,200?”

Abandoned landing strip with graveyard right beside it. We left quickly. It was a little spooky.
Abandoned landing strip with graveyard right beside it. We left quickly. It was a little spooky.
With 5km to town, we stopped to take some pictures. Unfortunately, 10 minutes later, we had to stop because we were caught in a huge downpour.
With 5km to town, we stopped to take some pictures. Unfortunately, 10 minutes later, we had to stop because we were caught in a huge downpour.
There are a bunch of really cool bridges along this stretch. We never had to cross them, but they made for good photo ops.
There are a bunch of really cool bridges along this stretch. We never had to cross them, but they made for good photo ops.
Mountains. The man in the river was fishing with a big net.
Mountains. The man in the river was fishing with a big net.
More mountains and rice paddies.
More mountains and rice paddies.

The scenery though, has been stunning, and only promises to get better as we get further into the highlands. We’ve got a big climb tomorrow, and we might come across some waterfalls if there’s enough water around.

For those cycling tourists looking to come through this area in the future, there is a very nice new, and very clean, guesthouse in Dak Glei, even though it’s a very small town. We’ve made stops in Pleiku, Kon Tum, Plei Can, and Dak Glei, and all have had good lodging options from very basic (~$6-7) to a little nicer (~12-13) to state-run “opulence” ($20-25). Roads are in good condition, and traffic is primarily motorbikes with maybe a large truck with a loud horn every few minutes.

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