Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vietnam 2016 Day 5. Dalat to the coast

Today was a short, beautiful scootering day. Just before I left my hotel I was pondering if I should wear my poncho, as there was a low cloud cover, but I decided against it and that was the correct decision. The day turned nice and sunny, just about perfect in temperature, and I pondered why I had been so concerned about the equatorial heat. Of course I was coming down from the mountains, but how much can the climate change over a few kilometers?

The landscape was beautiful, mantled in green, and gliding along in my scooter was a real joy.

I have not mentioned much about the geology of Vietnam, largely because everything is covered by greenery and there is little to see. In the odd bare roadcut, however, I have seen deeply weathered plutonic rocks with knockers of remarkably fresh granite (a reminder to geologists that hard rock found in a drill core might not be the sound footing we would like). Around Dalat I also saw some pretty healthy vesicular basalts that make me suspect of Neogene volcanism, even though I am not aware of active volcanism in Vietnam. In another outcrop I saw a nice tilted sequence of redbeds, so clearly there has been tectonic deformation in the geologic past (add to that the thick limestone sequences of North Vietnam). Finally, as I approached the coast I found a healthy and rather extensive batholith. Clearly this land has many hidden geologic wonders.

Going back a little, after happily driving for a couple of hours I cam to a very steep mountain front, and in less than 10 km dropped a good 1,000 m in elevation unto the coastal plain (similar to the way one drops off the Mexican altiplano from Perote to Jalapa and beyond), and my balmy temperature suddenly gave way to a furnace-like heat.

Grand total I covered about 100 km before I made it to the coast at Phan Rang, although I had to go a bit farther south to Ca Na before I found a suitable hotel. I was surprised when I found myself at 1:30 pm sitting in the veranda of my small bungalow, surveying my little kingdom of sand beach and ocean. What am I supposed to do with myself? Is this what people call relaxing?

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