I agonized weather or not I should spend another day riding out of my way to the scenic Highway 24. In the end I decided to take the direct Highway QL19 straight inland to the town of Kon Tum, which marks the start of the Ho Chi Minh Highway.
This road is not as scenic, but it has some history. The French built it as the main route into the Central Highlands. It was an important supply route during the war, and the Viet Cong often ambushed convoys traveling on it. Because of the history it sounded interesting.
I started the day at the same beach-side cafe I ate at yesterday, and they remembered that I like bánh mì ốp la. When I hit the road it was drizzling, making for a miserable ride.
Adding to the misery was that the route was not great. There were lots of trucks and traffic. The road was mostly flat, and passed through towns and suburbs. It was not that interesting and there was no evidence of the history.
But there was some good stuff. The beginning portions had some views of green rice fields, with farmers working in them. There was one climb up switchbacks. There were some decent views.
Once I made it to the top I was in the Central Highlands. I passed through more towns. I had lunch of bánh canh , then relaxed in a cafe for a while. I hit the road for the second half of my ride. It wasn’t interesting until I took the “shortcut” that bypasses the town of Pleiku.
This was incredibly scenic, going along valleys filled with fields growing all sorts of things, including towers of what I think was pepper. The going was slow on the narrow road. I would speed along, then hit huge potholes. I had to limit myself to about 40 kph to avoid destroying Tién.
The back road went past a few hill tribe houses. Then back to QL14 for the final stretch to Kon Tum. It was on this that I realized the road was exactly the same as the highways to nowhere through the dunes of Mui Ne and Quy Nhon. A wide four lane highway with median filled with landscaping, and sidewalks as wide as the road, with trees planted in it. But this road was lined with suburban houses and shops. Are they trying to create towns in the dunes?
I checked in to the awesome Thịnh Vượng Hotel. Then I drove around town. It’s a pleasant little place. I found some Cơm tấm. I saw a sign for bánh kem and asked for one, hoping it was ice cream in a baguette. But that means a whole cake! So I had ice cream at Jolibees, the fast food chain from the Philippines, which is randomly here. Then some chè.