We spent the morning north of Da Lat in the flower growing region. Da Lat is reportedly the flower growing capital of Vietnam. There are literally thousands of greenhouses, and you can smell the flowers as you ride past some of the farms.
We rode about an hour up into the mountains, then left the paved road and followed a new stone road back up the side of a mountain until we arrived at a new state park under construction. We stopped and visited with the park employees for a while.
After refreshments and potty breaks, we rode back into Da Lat for lunch. We stopped at a restaurant downtown beside the lake and enjoyed fresh strawberry milkshakes (basically puréed strawberries) and an assortment of local dishes. Imagine our surprise when we found out that our waitress was a Christian girl who regularly attends the United Methodist Church in Da Lat!
We left her a big tip... She left us with tears in her eyes. What a blessing for all of us. After lunch, we hooked up with another local girl who also attends the church in town, and she took us on the adventure of a lifetime!
For over an hour we rode our motorbikes out into the mountains, through small isolated villages and deep into banana and coffee fields. Eventually we stopped at a coffee plantation to check out the coffee plants.
The owner of this particular plantation lived nearby, so we stopped to take a tour of his processing plant. In one part of the farm they were fermenting rice to make rice wine...
In another part of the farm we found cages of ferrets, or weasels. Now, you might ask, what do weasels and coffee have in common? Let me tell you a tale. Seems on this particular farm, they feed the coffee beans to the weasels, then wait for them to 'poop' the beans back out. They then collect these pooped beans...
Then...the process these weasel pooped beans into the most expensive coffee in the world! This 'weasel poop coffee' is considered a delicacy, and sells on the world market for around $5,000 per pound! Take that Starbucks!
Well, needless to say, we all chipped in 50,000 dong apiece (that's about $2.50 per person) and were given a small sample cup of fresh 'weasel poop coffee'!
We decided nothing else could top that, so after our coffee break, we turned our bikes back toward Da Lat for the hour long ride to our hotel. We treated our guide to a fine supper of pizza at the V Cafe as thanks for introducing us to such fine cuisine!
Tomorrow begins bright and early as we board our busses at 6:30 am for a long ride into Ho Chi Mihn City.