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Da Lat

The approach into Da Lat is quite scenic and interesting. It seems every household has a garden where they farm various produce, whether vegetables or flowers. However small a patch they have they're growing some kind of produce. There are of course larger fields as well, and it's like nothing I've seen before - they all look very well cared for and perfectly manicured.

When we arrive we're not quite sure where to look for hotels. We'd found some places on Tripadvisor but nothing cheap, and in the end decide for firstly try one that has a good write-up in the Lonely Planet called Hotel Chau Au Europa. It turns out to be a very nice hotel with friendly staff and an excellent room with included breakfast and daily cleaning - and as a bonus it's very reasonably priced.

On our first day we head over to a travel agency called Sinh Tourist - formerly called Sinh Cafe Travel - to book a City-Tour of Da Lat and its surroundings. We also want to book a bus, but they want to charge us a small fortune, and they can't accommodate a bus on the day we want to go. We decide to ask around in some other agencies before deciding what to do. We're in luck and get a bus for the day we want with another agency, and it's much cheaper than the one Sinh Tourist could offer us - BONUS!

The city of Da Lat is set around a lake where you can hire out swan-shaped peddler boats. Hannah has an old unfulfilled dream about going on a peddler boat trip and I give in to her wishes at last. The peddler is most definitely not made for tall Europeans and we find it a little bit difficult to fit into the boat. It also turns out to be quite an exercise for our legs to get this thing moving at all. After about an hour we're back on shore - I'm by this time drenched in sweat and we both have slight problems walking after our workout. Needless to say we head straight to the nearest cafe for some refreshments.

[caption id="attachment_1883" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat. Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1884" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat. Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1885" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Swan shaped peddleboats on the lake, Da Lat. Swan shaped peddleboats on the lake, Da Lat.[/caption]

In the evening we try out the local disco club/bar where nobody is dancing despite quite a good DJ. It doesn't seem to be a tradition to dance here and people just sit around sipping their drinks. We're the only tourists in the bar when we arrive, and by the look of the staff and clientele not many tourists come here. The service is impeccable though and we don't have to open a single door ourselves, or move a single finger to order drinks - the staff is very attentive. We're not used to this kind of service - it's almost a bit too weird...

[caption id="attachment_1886" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Drinks, Da Lat. Drinks, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1887" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Drinks, Da Lat. Drinks, Da Lat.[/caption]

Next day and it's time for our City-Tour that will take us to the Bao Dai Summer Palace, the Crazy House (Hang Nga Guesthouse), a Catholic church, a viewpoint over the city with a cable cart down to a monastery, lunch back at the office in town, the Da Lat Railway Station, the Valley of Love (more like a Valley of Tacky Hell), and finally a shop for a bit of tea and wine tasting. The tea was nice but the wine seemed very fruity, a bit acidic and young - perfect if you wish for a headache. The trip was very militant and if you were one minute late back on the bus the guide would tell you off. The most memorable place would be the Crazy House - the architect I believe is the daughter of one of the princes from back when they had a monarchy. She'd studied in Russia and on her return started to build this weird set of houses. It's still not finished and they estimate it will still take quite some years to finish it all. It looks very much like she's been inspired by Antoni Gaudi, the Spanish architect who's houses can be found scattered around in Barcelona, including the huge La Sagrada Familia Cathedral - another project that is still about 15 or so years from completion. The Crazy House lacks the attention to detail as Gaudi had though, so in comparison it looks a bit amateurish, or even naive. The Bao Dai Summer Palace was also quite interesting with its Art Deco style - it was a bit rushed though and we got told off for arriving a few minutes late for the bus. We also had hoped for a journey on the train from Da Lat Railway Station, but it was only a quick stop to get to see the Art Deco style station with its lavish waiting room and the old steam engine locomotive on display.

[caption id="attachment_1888" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1889" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1890" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1891" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1892" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1893" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1894" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1895" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1896" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1897" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1898" align="aligncenter" width="454"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1899" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1900" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1901" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1902" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1903" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1904" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1905" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1906" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat. Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1907" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Da Lat from the Telpher- Starting Point. Overview of Da Lat from the Telpher- Starting Point.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1908" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1909" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1910" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1911" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1912" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1913" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1914" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat. Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1915" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat. Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1916" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat. Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1917" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1918" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1919" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1920" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1921" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1922" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1923" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valley of Love, Da Lat. Valley of Love, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1924" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valley of Love, Da Lat. Valley of Love, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1925" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valley of Love, Da Lat. Valley of Love, Da Lat.[/caption]

Da Lat is supposed to be the honeymoon capital of Vietnam so it's no surprise to find the prices in restaurants and bars a bit higher than elsewhere, but we find a nice little restaurant called Goc Ha Thanh which is reasonably priced and with nice food, so can recommend this place if you ever come here. We can also really recommend the Hotel Chau Au Europa for a nice and reasonably priced hotel. We also quite liked the architecture in general in the town it seems to be a bit inspired by the type of houses you'd find in the Alps - it's also a hilly place, so the city has a bit of that Alpen feel to it.

[caption id="attachment_1926" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overlooking the market, Da Lat. Overlooking the market, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1927" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat. Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1928" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Goc Ha Thanh Restaurant, Da Lat. Goc Ha Thanh Restaurant, Da Lat.[/caption]

It's time for our bus to Hoi An, our next stop. We leave Da Lat around lunch-time and the bus takes us to Nha Trang, here we have a break and have to "change bus" although it's the exact same bus that will take us on the rest of the journey to Hoi An - why we have to unload all our stuff and walk the 50 meters to the office only to load it all back on again is beyond my understanding. We're told that the bus will leave at 19:00, although it will arrive to start loading up at 18:45. We decide to go and have a look for a place to have a coffee or a beer and head down the road to find a bar. According to the lady at the bus company we have about 30 minutes before the bus will arrive to start loading up. We can't find a place for coffee in the direction we decided to walk and head back to look in the opposite direction. It's a good thing we do, because as we pass the office of the bus company we can see the bus arriving. We ask the lady whether this is our bus and the answer is yes. We grab our bags and get them loaded onto the bus and find a seat. We're under the illusion that we have plenty of time still before the bus will be leaving - it's only 18:30 and decide to go and get some snacks for the journey. But as we try to get off the bus to get to the shop we're stopped by the driver who says we can't leave. A bit confused we go back to our seats and just a few minutes later the bus leaves ahead of the scheduled time... What the??? One thing is to try to be on time, but to leave before schedule is a little bit stupid. The bus departs at 18:40, 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. Good thing we didn't find a cafe down the road and came back to look in the other direction of the office...