We took a mostly downhill ride through the green beauty of the highlands outside of Dalat to southern Vietnam’s coast on Thursday (December 28), traveling from cool dry sunshine to the balmy humidity of the beach. What a glorious ride through rich forests and terraced hillsides covered with coffee trees. This is our second to last day of cycling, and all of us have that bittersweet sense that something special is nearing an end.
We traveled though countryside and small villages on a well-paved two-lane road; many houses had coffee beans spread on large tarps in the front yards to dry. As we rounded a curve, our tour leader, Son, pulled over to speak with a farmer who was overseeing a large volume of drying beans. We walked among the trees and ran our fingers through the beans, and Son translated as the farmer talked about his work growing coffee. Coffee production in Vietnam is both privately and state owned; it was not clear which this farmer was part of.
Most striking about today’s combined cycling and bus transport was the change of climate. Before the day was done, we had transitioned from the temperate climate required for coffee to the warmth and humidity needed to grow tropical dragon fruit. Dragon fruit is a variety of cactus (Pitahaya) that produces a beautiful and delicious fruit. We often enjoyed sliced dragon fruit at breakfast and sometimes dragon fruit juice as well. Native to Mexico, this fruit has found a home in Vietnam, and we saw acres upon acres in full production.
We ended our day in the beach community of Phan Thiet and had a couple of hours to relax and check out the beach before dinner. Tomorrow we head to Saigon!