Kon Tum is located in beautiful, rugged countryside. There are minority villages in the hills, and a few remnants of the Vietnam War. Even though I have been riding so much every day, I planned to go on an extra 100 km ride, looping around the big reservoir on a back road, and coming back to town via the same stretch of the Ho Chi Minh Highway I will ride out on tomorrow.

My plan was to go counterclockwise, doing the scenic back road first. But I missed the turn off. I had to do the same portion of the HCM Highway I’ll be doing tomorrow, in the same direction. The route was mostly boring, through towns and suburbs. There were lots of places to eat, but it was too early. It would have been better to come back this way, since there would be no restaurants on the back road.

Kon Tum's church.
Kon Tum’s church.

I stopped at the Russian tanks in Dak To. Then I drove West to the old US airstrip used during the war, known as Phoenix airstrip. I actually drove on it. It seemed like hallowed ground.

I headed back, then turned down the small back road. The route was scenic, past gardens, and with beautiful views of the reservoir. Once again, there were many potholes, so I could only go 40 kph to make sure I didn’t destroy Tién.

I passed through small minority villages. Some people said hello, and some kids did too. A lot of people just ignored me. The back road took me a long time. It’s good I’m not doing this tomorrow. I did not see any foreigners on this route.

View from the Ho Chi Minh Highway heading out of town.
View from the Ho Chi Minh Highway heading out of town.

On the way back my bikes foot rest/shifter/brake assembly was loose and wobbly. I was also worried all day about my broken off mirror. Also, Tién had fallen over again, bending and loosening the hand brake. I learned I always have to use her center stand when I have my pack on the back.

I decided to try my luck at a Honda dealership in town. I showed the mechanic, and he wasn’t even phased. He tightened the foot rest assembly, replaced the hand brake, then rode off. He came back a few minutes later with the mirror reattached. Amazingly, all this cost $3!

Russian tank and traditional house.
Russian tank and traditional house.

While looking at Google Maps, I saw that tomorrow the portion of the Ho Chi Minh Highway I will be riding gets within 10 km of Laos. And there’s a road that crosses the border. I want to check it out.

Heading north on the Ho Chi Minh Highway.
Heading north on the Ho Chi Minh Highway.
Riding on Phoenix Airstrip.
Riding on Phoenix Airstrip.
A minority house.
A minority house.
Down the back road, and into the countryside.
Down the back road, and into the countryside.
The road approached the reservoir.
The road approached the reservoir.
And passed fields and wooden houses.
And passed fields and wooden houses.
The views were stunning.
The views were stunning.
People worked in the fields.
People worked in the fields.
And congregated in traditional houses.
And congregated in traditional houses.
The reservoir came back into view.
The reservoir came back into view.
Traffic was light.
Traffic was light.
The road went down to the reservoir.
The road went down to the reservoir.
Crops were planted in every possible plot of land.
Crops were planted in every possible plot of land.
The reservoir was incredibly scenic.
The reservoir was incredibly scenic.
It was some beautiful countryside.
It was some beautiful countryside.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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