Friday, April 23, 2010

Dam, Buffalo, Electric Plant

Most tourists never get to see the little hidden gems nestled into the mountains surrounding Dalat.  They miss out on much of the beauty of Dalat, because they never dare to a rent a motorbike and just take off in any direction.  I've spent the last few months exploring the back roads that line the mountains here.  I've rode through minority villages, explored dirt paths that lead to nowhere, examined old French remnants of colonialism, seen remote waterfalls, and circled amazing lakes and reservoirs.  One such ride was last weekend.  We started off for an area called Golden Valley where they have a flower garden.  We bypassed the flowers and rode further on up the road.  I saw a sign and we followed it even though we didn't know what it meant.  We drove down a narrow paved path covered in downed pine needles.  The path followed a river that ran low because of the dry season.  At the end is where we found and old French hydro-electric plant from the 1940's.  Unlike many things in Dalat, this electric plant had been well maintained.  The only ruins there were the old on-site housing for the workers, which were left to the elements.  The plant provided a serene hideaway buried at a notch in the valley along a river.  It made New York and everything else seem a million miles away.  After leaving we decided to find the lake or reservoir that supplied the plant, and did so some 3 or 4 kilometers down the road.  From there we rode on, and stopped when, while riding along the reservoir, I noticed a herd of water buffalo wading along the bank.  We just stopped the bikes and watched them watching us for a little while.  We continued farther still.  We journeyed far from Dalat up and down mountainsides until we reached the end of the paved road.  If we were to go any farther it would be over dirt and rocks.  We decided that this would be the time to return and did so.  As we ventured back to Dalat the skies turned black and the rains began to fall, terrible heavy rain, until we had to stop.  We took shelter in the gateway to a small garden in the mountains, and stood there shivering.  We waited for the rain to slow and then we rode on and home.

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