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Da Lat 2.0

VIETNAM | Monday, 25 March 2024 | Views [43]

Da Lat 2.0 (internet photo)

Da Lat 2.0 (internet photo)

STAYING IN DA LAT WAS LIKE BEING ON R&R—a real hotel in a real city with a real breakfast (once) and even Italian food for dinner, also once. We even found a laundry around the corner. 

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              R&R at Sandals Camellia, Da Lat 

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                        Our room—not too shabby

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                              Topiary, Da Lat 2.0

But this isn’t the Da Lat we remember from 2008. The lake we walked around sixteen years ago now hosts an armada of swan boats and Da Lat’s roundabouts have some really groovy topiary. Crossing the busy streets takes a bit of courage but, as it is in Cairo, if you keep the same pace the motorbikes will usually avoid you. We stayed in a less toney neighborhood back then and had no reason to venture into downtown where Sandals Camellia is with dozens of restaurants and upscale stores—some possible selling authentic products! 

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                  Our hotel in 2008

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                    Da Lat 1.0, 2008

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                   Zen and the art of crossing the street

It is only 50 kilometers to Mount Bidoup Nui Ba National Park so we were able to enjoy a sit-down breakfast at the hotel this morning. A very short walk took us to a relatively comfortable bird hide where we sat for most of the morning. The seats were still uncomfortable plastic but for once they were almost level. Several servings of juicy mealworms later we had recorded—and photographed—sixteen species of birds, several squirrels and a couple of treeshrews. Connie added six new birds to her Life List including the White-Cheeked Laughingthrush, White-Browed Scimitar-Babbler, Dark-Sided Thrush, Siberian Thrush and Lesser Shortwing.

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                      White-Cheeked Laughingthrush

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            White-browed Scimitar-Babbler

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                   Gluttony—one of the 7 deadly sins

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                     Dark-sided Thrush

We seldom bird after 11:00 AM—the birds have usually retired and we are just plain tired. But birders who have paid big bucks for a guide demand their money’s worth so we were out after lunch mainly targeting tiny Vietnamese Greenfinches. The ones we saw were high in the canopy and while we could “tick” them, we’ll try again mañana.

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                      Siberian Thrush

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                      Lesser Shortwing

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                  Siberian Blue Robin

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       Northern Treeshrew                  Northern Smoothtail Treeshrew 

Back at the hotel, we staged a mini-rebellion. Quang has been selecting the restaurants and ordering the food without so much as a “by your leave.” It’s not that the Vietnamese meals are horrible, but enough is enough. By way of compromise Andre arranged for pizzas to be delivered to Quang’s restaurant du jour for Alastair, Connie and me. A small victory buta  tasty one!

 

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