A trip to Da Lat
also Da Lat (Đà Lạt), located in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam,
was originally the playground of the French who built villas in the
clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast and of
Saigon, now known as
Ho Chi Minh City. Dalat looks like a cross between
Vietnam and the French Alps. Many of its
hotels and houses are built in
a French style. The city spreads across a series of pine-covered hills,
with a small lake in the center and surrounded by higher peaks, making
for some lovely scenery quite different from the rest of Vietnam.
Temperatures are pleasantly warm by day, and quite cool at night, down
to perhaps 10C.
Once again, Natalie was one step ahead of me, and had already arrived
and booked the hotel before I arrived (gold star missy!)....xing chow
Dalat is weirdly described as the 'Paris of Vietnam'. I've never been to
Paris but I am guessing it might have looked like this in the 70's on a
bad day...it was a quirky place...supposed to be kitsch but I really
couldn't see it myself. Still it was nice and cool and easy to stroll
around. Plus we found a woman that made damn good cakes. The market was
interesting - lots of chickens squeezed into cages, tubs of undulating
eels (ew), hairdressers that were also greengrocers...and lots of very
random hand knitted items.
majority of things to do in Dalat are actually outside of the town so we
booked a couple of motorbikers to take us on a tour the next day. Our
drivers Jack and Dragon (woo I got to ride around mountains on the back
of a dragon!) picked us up and helped us change hotel (bit of a mix-up,
we were not thrown put) by whacking the huge rucksacs on the front of
their bikes. Slightly scary but very nice of them nonetheless!
So we headed off into the mountains...first stopping at a flower farm,
where ladies where sat packing up gerberras (My fave. Hint to anyone
reading this) to pack off to the flower markets in
stopped at a coffee plantation where I was made to chew a coffee
bud...was weird - tasted like paper!!!
We then went onto a silk-worm factory which was amazing...you can walk
and see the process from beginning to end...from racks and racks of
worms in their cocoons..all the way to the end machinery (all very
wooden, basic and LOUD where they weave fabric and scarves etc. I bought
a beaaautiful teal scarf.
we headed to Elephant waterfalls. I thought it would be a nice thing to
stare at and then get back on the bike, but we actually had to climb
down the back of the thing! Was good fun..fell down a rock or 2 and
Dragon had to drag me up one (on my shins - ow - so ladylike)...behind
the waterfall was great - so loud and we got soaked!!!
At the top we walked across to the Linh An Pagoda and went to see the
HUGE buddah. He is a big, fat and smiley and is supposed to bring good
luck and happiness.
We then went to a 'chicken minority village' - we were not quite sure
what this was and had visions of little rejected albino chickens shunned
up into the mountains :) But instead it is actually a small village made
up of people that until not that long ago, lived in the forests and ate
wild animals. It is called the chicken village due to an old folk story.
The Government encourage them to come together and live in a community
and help fund build the village which looked to be pretty much self
sustaining.... it was so simple but it worked.. My favorite but was
seeing some kids who had made some pull along toys made from fruit and
were having the times of their lives running along with it.
went for a nice lunch in a proper 'local' restuarant on the side of the
road... the owners kids running around excited to have westeners
there...out the back (to go to the loo) was puppies, cats, chickens,
We went to another lot of waterfalls where to get the bottom was a
toboggan ride, unfortunatly I got a little over excited, went too fast
and slammed into the back of Natalie when she'd come to a standstill and
gave us both whiplash..and me a nice big yellow/purple seatbelt sized
bruise across me boobs. Owser.