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Our world Travel On 10th May 2007 I fled the UK on a journey around the world with a long list of places to go. Got as far as the Philippines where I met my wife. We got married on 11th May 2010 and are now sharing the experiences of travelling the world together

Heading north to Dalat

VIETNAM | Monday, 7 April 2008 | Views [2512] | Comments [1]

Sat 5th Apr - Off north to Dalat today leaving at 8am. 80,000 Dong (VND) for the journey. Not many people on the bus. One noteable sight on the way out of Ho Chi Minh City was an enormous theme park, with a mountain like thunder mountain in disneyland, but with a face on it. Really ornate entrance as you would expect of here.

The route goes through some nice scenery which gets nicer the further north you go, passing through tea plantations and large agricultural areas. Close to Dalat, the road climbs to pass into heavily forested areas with nice views.

Arrived in Dalat at 5:30pm and the bus stopped at the Phuong Hanh Hotel which turned out to be in a good location for $12.

The town is located in a sort of bowl surrounded by woods and is a mixure of modern hotels, markets, restaurants and interesting sights. Ate at the Nam Son vietnamese restaurant by the market square that was recommended by a local. Good food at reasonable price. Had a nice glass of warm palm milk from a street seller whilst walking around the central market area.

Sun 6th April - Late breakfast as this was the first day in a long while that I haven't needed an early start. Not much choice here, mainly vietnamese dishes of noodles or filled baguettes.

Went for a walk around the town centre then headed off to walk around the Xuan Huong lake, estimated at 7km. It is here that Dalat's comparison to a french alpine resort becomes clear. The lake was created In 1919 and named after an outspoken vietnamese poet. A beautiful setting with brightly coloured properties adorning the hillside. A couple of good quality restaurants overhang the lake in nice locations. Had lunch at the Thuy Ta which was good. An interesting line in teas... Diane had 'Multi-florous Knotweed' and I had 'Lighzi'. No idea what they would taste like but sounded worth a try.

On the way around the lake we visited the flower gardens (10,000 dong entry). A collection of plants and shrubs, most of which can be grown in the UK, which suggested the similarity in climate in this area to parts of europe (not all through the year I expect). Some rather interesting topiary and sculptures on one of the hills in the gardens seemed an odd addition.

Stopped off at Dalat's cathedral which is apparently only open for mass, so we were lucky. Fairly plain in design and completed in 1942 for use by french residents and holidaymakers.

One of the highlights of the day had to be visiting the 'Hang Nga Crazy House' 10,000 (dong entry). The most bizarre guest house you will ever find. The owner, Mrs Dang Viet Nga, got her PHD in archicture in Moscow. Her father Truong Chi was Ho Chi Minh's successor, being vietnam's 2nd president from 1981 until he died in 1988. Designed like a surreal artwork like something crossed between Fred Flintstone and a disney theme ride, but described in the book as Gaudi meets alice in wonderland. It is an elaborate concoction of weird shapes, stairways wrapped around such things as a giraffe and themed rooms such as ant, eagle, tiger and kangaroo - which has glowing red eyes (which are the guest rooms that cost between $26 and $77 a night). The project is still under construction and due for completion by 2010.

To show the french influence in this town there is the 'Moulin Rouge' restaurant in town with a large red windmill as with the original in Paris.

One thing I find confusing about this town is that there is a lot of building of enormous hotels going on. On the streets you don't see many tourists, so I expect they may be planning a big push on tourism in the area. With that will come many changes that could change the face and athmosphere. Time will tell.

One of the main ways of getting around between sights that lay outside of the main town is by motorbike. Here they have a group of 'Easyriders', who for $18 a day per person will either take you on a set itinerary or one of your choice. The price can be negotiated with or without entry fees. We have booked a couple of easyriders for tomorrow.

Dinner at the blue river restaurant overlooking the lake. No the cheapest in town but an extensive menu. One of the major features of Dalat is the telecomms tower that stands on top of the post office building. It is commonly alikened to the eiffel tower and is illuminated in the evening until the post office closes at 9pm.

One thing I haven't solved yet is that the guidebook mentioned about bohemians walking around wearing french berets. Have seen berets for sale in the shops but not a single person wearing one. The standard headwear here is the vienamese cone hat.

It is possible that it is a seasonable thing and it is too cold at the moment. Today started off grey and cold, then the sun came out for a while and then I showered for a bit in early afernoon and then sunny again with a cool evening. Last night was really cold. April is officially the start of wet season, which peaks in July or so. Glad that we are coming through now before it gets really wet.

Mon 7th Apr - Picked up by easyrider at 9am.  A great day in the countryside. Started with a flower producer....I amazed me how many flowers Vietnam exports. They have massive areas of greenhouses owned by foreign companies because the climate in this area is so good. Off to a fruit farm for some fresh passion fruit straight from the vine. Visited a coffee plantation of which there are many. They are the world's 2nd largest exporter of coffee apparently, after Brazil. I did think it was Kenya and Ethiopia ha came high on the list but haven't verified this.

Visited a rice whisky producer for a sample. A nice version soaked in bananas was different. Packing in a lot today, a silk producer. First was the silkworm area where the cocoons are grown and harvested, then washed in boiling water to kill off the worm inside, which is later emoved to be sold off for food in the markets. The silk from the cocoon is then woven onto machines to then be turned into the final product.

Next the Elephant water falls which was in full flow considering the rains having not started yet. Next to the falls is the beautiful chinese style Linh An pagoda temple. Three excellen buddha statues inside. Behind the temple is a massive white laughing buddha complete with a halo that would be illuminated in the evening. Definitely worth a visit.

Next stop at a vermicelli noodle manufacturer. Rice is soaked in hot water turning it into a paste which is dried and moved to another area where it is loaded into a machine that forces it through a had full of noodle sized holes. The resultant stream of noodles is washed to get rid of some of the sarch then it s put out to dry before going to market.

Interesting tree on the way out that the locals call the fish eggs tree. Produces a small red sweet berry that oozes out little eggs. Really nice sweet taste.

Almost the final stop of the day was the meditation temple. A stunning complex of temples with the low drone of the large bell continually being struck by the old priest resplendent in gold robe and headware. A walkway slightly down from the temples offers a lovely view over a lake which, if sayin loner would have been nice to explore.

Opposite the temple is the cable car terminal so got on it one way (35,000 dong or 50,000 both ways). Runs for about 2.3km with a superb view of the area. Picked up by the moto drivers at the other end to be taken back to town.

An action packed day with many activiies and learned an enormous amount from my very capable and knowledgeable driver 'Le Binh'. He's being doing this for 13 years and knows everything about vietnam. Brilliant day.

Tue 8th Apr - Early bus to Nha Rang this morning. Will update again later...

 

Comments

1

Hi Jeff,

that's great that the business card is still in the family :). Thanks a lot for your help and I would be really grateful if you could pass me the info from BC later.

If you are interested have a look at my website with photos from Vietnam and other Asian countries: http://deusko.sk/index.php?page=3&main_segment=1
(Fotogallery = Fotogaleria (in Slovak))

Enjoy your stay in Japan :).

  Deus Jun 15, 2008 8:03 PM

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