Into The Mountains
Wow, what a journey!
We went from roads like this …
To roads like this…
In only a few hours biking. It was amazing.
A motorbike, while undoubtedly more dangerous, makes the journey enjoyable and exhilarating rather than an annoying necessity of travel. Even if you do have bikes that break all the time.
Motorbiking from Vinh Hy to Dalat was one of the best. The variety of scenery. The winding road. The lush greenery of the mountains and all the smells that come along with it. Also, for an added bonus this journey was our first without a mechanic stop. A big milestone for us!
Our journey was not all sunshine and roses though. As we reached the summit it started to rain. And in the mountains when it rains it really rains.
So we had a rather miserable last hour or so of our drive to Dalat.
Then there is the temperature change. We went from sweltering by the ocean to shivering in a cloud. I stupidly wore my beater with no easy access to a jumper. I was frozen. As cold as I have been all trip.
Dalat was worth it though.
Dalat has been a holiday destination for centuries simply because of this cold. The pleasure of wrapping yourself in a proper duvet. Of wearing a coat. All the things we English take for granted are highly sought after here.
Everyone is looking to escape the relentless heat of Saigon.
The French clearly loved the place. They made it their own. French architecture is everywhere and the center has a very French feel to it. It was unlike any Vietnamese city I have seen so far.
Dalat is nicknamed little Paris and is the love destination for many Vietnamese couples. I even heard rumors of a mini Eiffel tower but I never saw one.
We spent three days here and it could easily have been more. I thoroughly enjoyed Dalat.
Our hostel was a modern, family run place full of friendly people. It had a real family atmosphere to it that was enhanced by the nightly communal meals. Sharing a meal is a great way to get to know someone.
We met a lot of cool people here including a Dutch guy called Irfan who we are still biking with now.
The highlight of our stay here was the canyoning trip we went on. A full day traversing down a river. Trekking, swimming, jumping and abseiling. It was expensive but it was well worth it.
Our tour guides were great, friendly people who ensured our safety and enjoyment. If you are ever in Dalat I recommend the Highland Sports Travel company for canyoning or any other activities they have.
The only sketchy part was the optional 11m cliff jump. This required a run to avoid the rocky outcrop below. Of course, I nailed it. As well as a front and slightly shit backflip from 7m.
There are also two cool architectural creations to check out in Dalat. The life’s work of Mrs. Dang Viet Nga. The architecture is described by lonely planet as:
“Think of Gaudí and Tolkien dropping acid together.”
A fitting comment I would say.
One is the crazy house, which is a strange house, building complex that you explore using the thin, probably dangerous bridges which connect the rooms and buildings together.
The second, and in my opinion, better one, is maze bar or 100 roofs bar as it was originally known. This is a four-story maze with a hidden garden that you can explore. It is better than the crazy house mainly because it’s free and it’s a bar but also it is so carefully designed. Every detail has been thought through. It is truly the work of a genius and probably one of the coolest bars I have been to. You really could get lost here.
Dalat, being in the mountains, has many waterfalls to visit. We went on a beautiful one hours drive to elephant falls. A huge waterfall which you can climb down to.
After three days relaxing in Dalat, we decided to head on to Nha Trang. Back to the ocean and the heat that comes with it. Dalat is a lovely place, I am already looking forward to getting to the Northern mountains.