Cool mountain air, beautiful flower gardens, strange coffee, amazing architecture and the prettiest town we have seen so far in Vietnam: Da Lat.
JOINING THE WOLFPACK:
We arrived in Da Lat after a very bumpy morning bus ride. It was a 10 minute walk to our dorm – the Wolfpack Hostel. We arrived, hot and sweaty, and were greeted by a really friendly receptionist who took our packs and gave us some very refreshing tea. The dorm room was amazing! The beds were bunks, but they were so comfy and it was lovely to have a duvet for the first time since we left our homeland, not that I could sleep with it the entire night! Another thing we loved about the hostel was the family dinner, every night all the guests would sit around the dinning room table and share dinner – an extra 70,000Dong ($4NZ) per meal. This was a great way to meet people and the food was delicious!
Because it was so hot and the hostel had great WiFi we just sat, drank tea and blogged for the afternoon. Our stay cost 113,500 Dong ($7NZ) each per night, including breakfast, another great spread – we would highly recommend staying here.
CRAZY HOUSE, FLOWERS, WATERFALLS AND TURF WARS:
Twists and turns, up or down? High then low, where will it lead?
Who would think to design such a Crazy House? A 72-year-old Vietnamese woman would. Đặng Việt Nga, the lady herself had dreamed of creating a house that would amaze people and was told many times it wasn’t possible, she did it. Apparently she didn’t originally plan for it to be called Crazy House but the name just stuck – rightfully I’d say.
It cost 30,000 Dong ($1.80NZ) each to look around this amazing piece of architecture where we spent about two hours finding our way through. A little further in town there was also a bar modelled off the house – 100 Bar – this was even more confusing than the house as it was made to be a maze. We explored this place a couple of times, both sober and not so sober, and each time we got lost! It was a lot of fun!
Of course we did our usual DIY scooter day tours while we were here and on our second day we were joined by the lovely Chantelle and Paul once more. We drove out towards the Elephant Waterfalls and stopped at several places along the way.
One place that looked appealing to me in pictures was the flower fields, but when we got to the location I was pretty disappointed.
There were glass houses for days, but no open fields – it cost us 20,000 Dong ($1.25) each and we spent about 10 minutes there, I wouldn’t recommend this.
After this we dropped into a coffee plantation (free entry), it was really cool to see all the coffee trees and learn about weasel poo coffee, albiet slightly inhumane as they are kept in cages.
The weasels eat coffee cherries (aparently they select the best fruit) and then their poo is scooped up and the beans are washed off, roasted and brewed.
We tried the post-digested brew and weren’t all that impressed, even the coffee snob Neil said it tasted like shit – hah!
The beautiful scenery made up for it though.
Across the road from the coffee plantation was a beautiful sunflower field. It was 10,000 Dong ($0.60NZ) to enter, a small price to pay for heaven on earth. Stunning.
After Neil pulled me away, we went on to the Elephant Waterfalls which was 20,000 Dong ($1.80NZ) entrance fee.
They were beautiful falls, but the pollution really ruined them, it wasn’t just rubbish – there were three dead piglets in the water and because it was so dirty swimming was no longer an option.
Later that evening we watched the sunset over the central lake before going to the night market to try the local street food. Pizza! I love pizza, I now love Vietnamese pizza too – this tasty treat is made on rice paper – gluten free bitches!
The locals put meat, veggies, herbs, cheese, mayo and chilly sauce on top of a rice paper base and grill it on a barbecue – the flavour sensation was incredible.
Another thing that added to this experience was being stuck in the middle of a turf war. While waiting for our pizzas to cook we sat around the barbecue watching the little Vietnamese lady work her magic, suddenly a lady was yelling over my head and Neil was trying to pull me to the side. At first we didn’t understand what was happening – the two women were shouting at each other in Vietnamese. Wham! A chair was thrown, followed by a table then more people got involved and the fight was stopped. A younger local lady then explained to us the one serving us had taken the other ladies normal spot and even though she had paid for it before her, so it was rightfully hers, the other lady was still pissed. She told us that both the women were originally from Hoi An and were not Da Lat people, because Da Lat people were nice. I was just relieved Neil pulled me out before I got in the way of a chair! He said he was happy with the dinner, and the show.
The next day the four of us explored The Valley of Love/Thung Lung Tinh, it cost 100,000 Dong ($7NZ) and had a beautiful landscape.
Neil loved the hundreds of bonsai trees and I found the concrete animals very amusing.
Neil and I challenged Chantelle and Paul to a race in the swan boats on the lake, I don’t think we had a very clear course though so I’m not sure who won.
It was a lovely place to spend the morning, I think we were there for about four hours.
We then found a cable car which took us to a Buddhist temple: Thien Vien Truc Lam
The cable car ride was about 15mins long through a forest (80,000 Dong ($5NZ) each). The temple was beautiful. We all had to wear shawls and cover up which was great fun.
The last cool place we stopped by in Da Lat was the statute of the golden Buddha. This was massive and quite cool to see. I still don’t understand where they get the money for these things, but nevertheless it’s a pretty sweet photo right?
Da Lat town centre itself was a lot of fun to walk around – it’s full of cafes that only do coffee. Neil was in heaven! I’m sure he will be sick of coffee after Vietman.
We loved this little mountain town and would definitely recommend it as a stop. The Wolfpack Hostel was awesome, the air was fresh, clean and cool, the lively coffee buzz and fresh produce creates a fantastic atmosphere. A unique town!