Tet Tour 2000
Celebrating the Year of the Dragon

Cycling Dalat to Saigon via Bao Loc

Our last day cycling was also the most hottest. Gone were Alfredo's complaints about no sun two weeks before in Hue. After a cool morning start on the bikes, our adventure began with a steady descent from the 4,000 foot altitude of Dalat to the Central Highlands north of Saigon. The best of Vietnam's coffee, tea, pepper, flowers and other crops grow well here and numerous Montagnards could be seen along the road coming from their rural villages to trade.

David was delighted and stopped to talk with a few at a cafe. Meanwhile, the temperature was rising as the day wore on and we ran through a couple dozen bottles of water cycling through the heat.

Towards the latter end of his three hours cycling on the bike, John took a tumble and landed hard on his shoulder. Our group doctor, Raphiel made his usual drug prescription and we raced John to the clinic in Saigon a few hours away. There we met the animated Dr. Le Phuc, who after examining the X-rays, explained that John had dislocated his clavicle. Fortunately, treatment could wait until his return to the States, so Dr. Phuc would not have to treat him now. Ironically, John was due to have the same shoulder surgically replaced only two months later.

Our arrival in Saigon meant a day free for souvenir shopping and Tony took it to the extreme, buying over a 150 pounds of ceramic dinnerware for his wife (shortly before getting a root canal done at the clinic next to the hotel...). The large crate required its own taxi and with the help of Sinh (and a few dollars), he was able to convince the airline staff to load it aboard the plane.

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A Sore Finish

Although John survived the war untouched and promised his wife all would be fine, there was an unplanned maneuver the last day riding from Dalat. Here, Dr. Le Phuc explains treatment options at the emergency clinic in Saigon a few hours later.

The Dong Stops Here

Saigon City Hall sits in the heart of of a growing city where, unlike Hanoi, capitalism is alive and well. New commercial buildings now tower over this city monument just up the way from our hotel.

Neon Flowers

A tropical Iris decorates the lobby of our hotel where a wedding reception will occur that evening. During Tet we have seen a lot of flowers around, but this was another pleasant surprise.

Number One Shoeshine

And this young boy was not kidding. While we had coffee, twenty minutes of meticulous polishing later and these boots looked better than new.

Kumquat Dragon

At the restaurant, another Tet creation - a Kumquat tree skillfully twisted into a dragon.

Grand View

From our hotel, the restored French Colonial Grand, a grand view of the Saigon River from the rooftop. The Grand is in central District 1 near the historical Continental and Rex.

All photographs VeloAsia 2000.

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