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December 2nd 2010
Published: February 5th 2013
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2nd Dec: Nothing really to report from today. Just a boring travel day. I left Saigon in the morning, not too early, thank goodness as the buses leave every hour from just around the corner from the hostel. The journey to Dalat wasn't too bad. I think it was about 6 to 8 hours, but I can't remember the exact time. We stopped about half way for a break to use the toilets and get some food.

When we arrived in Dalat. We were taken to the bus station, which is a good bit out of the town. There was a bloke there, Rot, and he was the only tout around, apparantly the rest are all barred from the bus station (maybe this has something to do with his dad being high up in the police). Anyway he got us sorted with some motos that took us into town proper. I ended up staying at the guesthouse his family owns as I had read some reviews of it on the internet, and knew it would be okay.

At the guesthouse I met Rot's brother Ben, who worked there and we went to a place nearby for dinner. Then we met up with one of the German couples from the Mekong Delta tour and had a few beers with them. Went to this cool little bar.

3rd Dec: Had a chill out day today. Up and had brekky as it is included in the price for the room, and then headed out to see some of the sights of Dalat. I headed down thruogh the town. The town is quite confusing as it's hilly and kind of goes round in circles. I never really knew where I was going when I was there. However I made it to the other side of the toen and my first stop was the Cazy House.

The Crazy House or to give it it's proper name Hang Nga Guesthouse, is yes, a guesthouse. It was designed and built by the architect, Dang Viet Nga. It resembles a giant tree and the festures display many things from nature scuh sa animals and plants. There are ten guestrooms, all of which are themed on a different animal. The house was crazy and quite interesting to look around. I don't think I would of liked to stay there, as during the day they open up for people to come and have a look around and you'd have no privacy.

Then it was about a twenty minute walk up to Bao Dai's Summer Palace. The way wasn't signposted too well and there were a few foreigners walking around all looking a bit lost. I found it eventually after wandering up a random path. It's not really a palace, as in it's more like a big house, than an actual palace. It's just not that big or grand. It was constructed in 1933, and was totally designed and built in the art deco style. I was given some funky shoe covers to wear, so that my plebby feet and shoes didn't touch the carpet. The palace was like stepping back in time. Everything was art deco styled.

After the palace I took a walk back to the guesthouse and went for a late lunch with Ben and another bloke that was staying there. We went to a nice little cafe, that was around the corner from the guesthouse. I would never of found it by myself, as it was hidden away a bit. The food was nice and the chef even had kimchi. Nom nom. I spent the rest of the afternoon at the hostel, just chilling out, having a wander around the town, and drinking coffee.

That evening I met the German couple and we went for dinner. The restauarant we went to was really nice, quite posh inside and the food was lovely, a bit over our budgets but nice. We went back to the little bar we had been at the night before. I would be very surprised if anyone could beat the bar owner at a game of Connect 4. If it was an Olympic sport he would win a gold medal.

4th Dec: Up early for my day trip biking around the countryside around Dalat. After brekky at the hostel, we were given our bikes and drivers, if like me you can't drive. I had an older lady driving me around. Bit gutted, I would of liked a hot Vietnamese shirtless biker guy. But hey we can't have everything we want. Bless Ben, he gave me one of his coats to wear because it was freezing. i thikn that there were about six of us on the tour.

We drove out of town wth our lovely guide, can't remember her name now but she was a real sweetie. The scenery was gorgeous all rolling hills. Our first stop was the bug place. If I remember correctly they grew and harvest the bugs here. I can't remember why. Maybe they were silk worms? Well we were given a plate with a load of bugs in the centre, surrounded by tomato, and some chilli sauce on the side. The bugs were crunchy and I managed to get one down. Some people were eating them like they were crisps. Not for me like, unless they made them salt and vinegar, or even better pickled onion flavour.

We stopped a local market. Pretty much your generic Asian market. I love the way they sell minatures of everything or paper replicas to offer to your dead ancestors. We also wandered around some of the shops outside the market, before heading to the silk factory. At the factory, we watched them take the raw silk product that the worms make and turn it into silk and from there make scarves. The scarves were pretty cheap, $5. So I ended up buying one.

The waterfall we went to was quite pretty. We coouldn't really see much from the top, so we hiked down to the bottom. It was an easy hike, but a bit slippery in places, due to the water. The view still wasn't that great at the bottom, and we got a bit wet from the spray off the waterfall. Pretty, but not the best waterfall I've ever been to. When we got back to the top we stopped in a woman's shop and had a bit of a look around. I was good and didn't buy anything.

We had a lovely long drive through the countryside. It really is beautiful up here and completely different to Saigon and the Mekong Delta, which I had just previously visited. No wonder the French used to come here to escape the heat in the lowlands. We saw lots of coffee trees (?) growing and a lot of coffee comes from this area. I think our guides's family were or had been in the coffee industry.

We drove to a small village. there were a few modern houses and we were given our lunch by a lovely Buddhist nun. We had pho, which was really nice and then we were given lots of exotic Vietnamese fruits to try. I'm not really a fruit person and defo prefer veggies, however I gave them all a go. Most of them were nice.

Next we walked through the houses to a traditional ethnic minority village. We went in this old woman's outhouse barn type shack, where she gave us a demonstration of her weaving. The weaving was good and we talked to the woman a bit through her guide. Therre was a fire going in the shack, which made it quite smoky. The woman's daughter, probs in her thirties, and her mate turned up. Well they were pissed as farts. They were quite fun at first, but after a while it got a bit tedious and uncomfortable. We said our goodbyes and left. Glad to be out of the awkward situation. Our guide was telling us that she hates it, too, when the women are pissed. We saw another old woman totally inebriated aswell. It must be giro day, or whatever the equivalent is in Vietnam and they'd all bought a tonne of booze.

Then it was the long drive back ot the city, we stopped briefly at the mushroom farm. It was a big tent filled with these humungous mushrooms growing. Honestly they looked like elephants' ears. Had a bit of a rest at the guesthouse and then we all went out for dinner and to a kareoke place. It was a fun night and a great way to finish off my time in Dalat.

5th Dec: Up early and we got a taxi to the bus station and headed off back to Saigon in the same direction as I had arrived from. The journey was about 7 to 8 hours and we even stopped at the same rest stop as we had on the way here. Arrived in Saigon before tea time and back to the heat. I had missed it up in the mountains.

Additional photos below
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Bao Dai's Summer Palace, Dalat

We ate these.

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