Friday, November 24, 2017

Dalat with a tinge of Europe

On our way to Dalat we came across a new type of bus, one that we were to find is the preferred mode of bus transport throughout Vietnam, the sleeper bus. As its name implies it comes filled with little capsules, generally three rows across and double storey, like the baby seats in cars just much bigger (but not big enough). Problem was that they would use these during the day and even for some trips that were only two hours long. You had to take your shoes off to travel on them and they got mad if you argued about that as it was not easy for Elizabeth to take off her shoes with a broken toe. The capsules were not quite long enough to stretch out but you get used to them. Weird way to travel.

Anyway, back to Dalat. Dalat was like being transported instantaneously to Europe. Being high in altitude and inland it has a cool climate without the oppressive humidity we had come to accept. First time we had been cool (even cold) since entering South East Asia. Dalat was full of rolling landscapes, beautiful scenery, fruit and coffee fields and flower gardens. We wanted to make the most of the 3 nghts we decided to allow ourself here and tracked down a good tourist shop. We booked a city tour and a country tour for successive days. 

They were wonderful tours that filled a full two days with sights and adventure. Some of the highlights of the city tour include:

The cable car trip to the Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery as well as the monastery itself. Beautiful views from the cable car and passing over a pine forest. We went to Bao Dai's extravagant summer palace, saw a very long reclining Buddha and visited the Datanla waterfall. The waterfall was down a very steep slippery path, and despite the attempt, Elizabeth was unable to make it with her broken toe. So I took lots of photos and video. We also went to the fabulous Flower Forest, like a botanical gardens, but more visually extensive with fake giraffes, silver dolphins, sorcerers apprentice like brooms holding buckets and more.
The Reclining Buddha
Flower Park

The country tour was even better, warming up with a visit to a flower farm and a village of a local minority group. There was a cricket farm, the insect not the sport, where crunchy crickets with sauce were offered. We politely declined as unsure of its status for us vegetarians. Research later revealed this is a bit of a grey area for us. They are more environmentally friendly as a protein source than even vegetables, less animals are killed as harvesting fruit and veg inadverdently kills small species and some science said they have no pain receptors. So still on the fence about that one.

We came across a huge fantastically smiling very happy Buddha and saw, felt and heard the brilliantly wide Elephant waterfall. Sat, relaxed and contemplated the cares of the world with a weasel coffee in an expansive coffee plantation and finished the day marveling at the Dr Seuss type architecture of the amazing Crazy House. Sure wish my grandson Sam was with us for that one, we could have wandered around aimlessly for hours :-)

Yep Dalat was certainly a special kind of Oasis in Vietnam with something for everyone and a little touch of Europe.

Elephant Waterfall, flower farm and smiling Buddha
Time for some Weasel Coffee
Crazy House
More Crazy House
Bye, bye, beautiful Dalat

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