Running around Da Lat

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Even though it had only been a day, Dario was pretty much done with Saigon. The insane traffic, congestion, and humidity of the city inspired him to travel up north to Da Lat to find calmer, more intimate surroundings and more mild weather. I was game since I’ll be coming back to Saigon in January just before I leave, so we took an overnight sleeper bus to Da Lat.

For some reason I imagined a sleeper bus to be more conducive to sleeping. While the bus was kinda fresh (double-decker reclining bed chairs and narrow-ass aisles!) I’m kind of a light sleeper. Making it slightly more awkward was the fact that our “seats” or beds were at the back of the bus, where five reclining chair beds touched each other on both sides. If anyone else were to take up the seats next to us we’d be five (mostly) strangers all spooning in a row. It was also kinda claustrophobic under there.

Dario moved to another open single seat while I stayed in the back. Every time the bus made a turn I kinda jolted/rolled over to the side. City lights and other cars’ headlights flooded the windows from time to time, while car honking and Vietnamese pop music played in the background. Oh! And I had to pee pretty badly. After using a WC at a rest stop on the way, I think I managed to get about an hour of sleep.

Total number of hours of sleep since leaving San Francisco: 10 hours over the span of 3 days (estimate).

I’m a fcking zombie by now.

We got to Da Lat by 6 am. The city is beautiful! As we drove to our hostel, the sun started coming up over the hills of the city, making the colors of the buildings around town glow softly with a golden blue morning hue.

The Dream hostel is waaayyyy nicer than our joints in Saigon. After eating at a small local restaurant that only serves one dish (bun cun!!)  we started to walk around the neighborhood. Compared to Saigon, Da Lat is a really homey little town. We walked past open store fronts, folks chilling on tiny chairs and tables eating street food, merchants (mostly women) selling produce in the alleys — and lots of chickens. Dario was on a hunt for a razor to trim his Ho Chi Minh ‘stache, so we went from drug store to drug store looking for one. One guy tried to sell one to him for $10US. I know we’re tourists and all, but DAMN!

After our excursion, we checked into our hostel, put our stuff away, and then spontaneously passed out on our beds. After waking up around 1 pm, we ate lunch at the Art Cafe (nice guy, but the food wasn’t cooked quite right) and went out to explore the town once again – this time, we went to Da Lat’s lake area (it’s a huge man-made lake, kinda like Lake Merritt but hella nicer and not stanky) and the markets that Da Lat is more well-known for.

Hanging out at in the market area was an interesting experience. Clothes and shoes exploded all over one of the squares in piles, while the vendors around us sang melodious slogans to get people (mostly local residents) to buy their goods. Below the square were two dead-end streets where vendors sold both food and clothing on all sides.

After eating dinner across the street from our hostel, we went back out to the same shopping area for the night markets. I’m pretty proud of myself for not buying ANYTHING that night (I was looking at some shoes though; they got tons of knock-off Chuck Taylors for a few bucks all over the place).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Day 2 in Da Lat (Day 3 in my Southeast Asia trip) — I finally got at least 6 or 7 hours of sleep last night. Dario arranged for a motorbike tour around the outskirts of Da Lat, so we met our driver “Paul” (his French name) around 9 am and took off on two motorbikes, with me on the back of Paul’s bike.

I could go on and on and on about how great our day was, but I think I’ll let the photos do the talking instead. All I gotta say is that good tours are HELLA WORTH THE MONEY. It was an amazing experience to fly around town on motorbikes to see the rest of Vietnam’s countryside, visit other towns, and get to know more about the country in a more personal way. Paul was a dope tour guide and was hella knowledgeable about the history of Vietnam on all levels. Just a really sweet dood.

On the itinerary for the day:

  • Buddhist temples
  • Panoramic views of farm lands and flowers
  • A town of “minority” K’ho folks in Buon Ta Nung (they’re ethnically Polynesian)
  • Coffee plantations
  • “Elephant” falls (where we went under the falls and I got my foot stuck in the mud. I had to climb around barefoot to see the rest of the falls because my shoes were too slippery)
  • A silk factory
  • A coffee joint (where they make coffee out of beans that weasels shit out. NO joke)
  • The “Crazy” House of Da Lat, designed by the daughter of the President of Vietnam (it looked like a psycho “Fairyland” for tourists. All I could think was how it could never exist in the states because it’s such a lawsuit waiting to happen).

Lunch though was OFF THE CHAIN!!!  For 45,000 Dong (about $2.50US), we got a TON of amazingly tasty traditional Vietnamese dishes. The three of us somehow managed to eat almost everything, putting my low-blood sugar havin-ass into a food coma.

And for all of that? It cost us only 420,000 Dong (about $21US each!!!). I felt HELLA bad that our all-day tour was so cheap, but we gave Paul a good tip and thanked him profusely for all his help today.

Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery

See the rest of the photos of our tour at:

Day 2: Da Lat

Day 3: Da Lat


Posted: December 16, 2011

Author: Tiffany

Category: Blog, Vietnam

Tags: , , ,

+1 Comment
  1. deedot says:

    the tour was 420,000 VND total for the 2 of us ($10 each) – even better! Paul (Thanh) even treated us to coffee and cuz i had been bugging him about getting some Nuoc Mia all day, we ended treating him to that!

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