We arrived in DaLat after a 4.5 hour bumpy bumpy ride…so bumpy I thought I was going to fall of the seat multiple times..oh and no air con and about 30 of us travelers piled in.
We booked a few nights at the pink hotel and villas which came very highly recommended. The owner and his family immediately led us to a table, grabbed a map, highlighted the sites and convinced us all (the four of us) to do a tour with them the following day.
So, after making arrangements we went for a walk, found some lunch and then went to see some local sights. We only made it to the market and to the Crazy House which was plenty for one day.
The crazy house was designed by a lady and built in 1990. It is used as a hotel and also as a tourist site. They are expanding it and the house won an award for being the 10th out of the 50th most weird houses in the world. We had dinner at the Art Cafe which consisted of ok pasta we so wanted pizza but just couldn’t find it anywhere.
The next day, I can’t keep track of days, I think it was Tuesday…we all met in the lobby for our day of touring the country side with Rot (our tour guide) and 20 other foreigners. Rot promised us the tour would be special and unlike any other experience we have had so far, so for $30. a person we were totally on board. It was Adam and my 3 year anniversary and what a great way to spend the day!
It was pouring rain as we climbed aboard our motorbike and followed Rot quickly out of the city and up into the highlands of Dalat. We drove for a good 45 minutes through flower greenhouses and small towns. The rain was misting and cold but it was surreal to be up and in our own little world.
We stopped at a cricket farm where the owner raises crickets and sells them to restaurants (yup! a delicacy) so, we cooked some up and had a try. Not so bad and if you dip them in enough Chili Sauce they taste like chili sauce and potatoes….kinda.
Then, we stopped at a local market where we were told that every morning the woman buys goods for the day. She is the only one who can do the bargaining the men are not allowed and if you purchase later in the day, the prices go down dramatically because they don’t want to sell the food the next day. We saw all the fruits and veggies, but also the meat and the animal parts that they sell including the cow eyeballs! and also little doggies in cages for sale, but not for pets.
We stopped at a coffee plantation which seems to be the big hit here now in Vietnam. Rot said that they are the world’s second largest exporter of coffee. We stopped at a mushroom farm where we could go in the dark and see them all growing on these hanging bags from the ceiling. We stopped at a huge waterfall and climbed down the slippery rocks to the bottom where we got even more soaked if it was at all possible and took some pictures. Adam’s wedding ring also happened to flip off his finger and we had three of us down in the dark on our hands and knees searching…he can thank his lucky stars he found it. 🙂
We then went to a silk factory where we saw the process from start to finish. It was so fascinating. We have a video where Rot tells you how it works. (check out the youtube channel)
We then headed to Rot’s village. The rain had stopped and it was a nice afternoon ride. We went into a local lady’s home and listened to her stories on child birth, marriage customs and the ghost family that lives in the village. She also is one of 4 women in the village who makes her own cotton. Our back she had a cotton tree and then showed us how she spins it on 3 different looms then dyes it from different natural substances then weaves it. I tried the loom but it was quite impossible to keep the cotton from ripping as we strung it.
We had lunch with Rot’s family, played some crazy drinking games without the alcohol and then tried fruit. We tried so much fruit, all from their garden…Jack Fruit, Dragon Fruit, Persimmon, Custard Apple, Rambutan, Mangosteen, Star Apple, Nasty smelling Durian Fruit, yummy Longan, and Sapodilla. Lunch was topped off with a helping of candied weasel poop, yup, we ate shit.
We had a nice long ride back to the hotel then spent the evening at a local restaurant and then a club with live singing where Rot used to work. It was one of those days that you know you will remember forever. The stories, smiles and natives where something out of a National Geographic. Although we really liked Sapa, this added something without the tourism pull, without the buy this lady buy from me that we had there. This was just a handful of foreigners hanging out with the locals and learning, witnessing from them their way of life.
Perfect day and beautiful city here in Dalat.
Ok, so real quick, since Nicole ever so nicely covered the days events I will give my final thoughts on the country of Vietnam as we march on into Cambodia. We leave Vietnam with a variety of thoughts, images and emotions all bundled up into one experience that we both truely enjoyed. As most Americans or just about anyone from my generation all over the world, the country of Vietnam is sanonomous with one thing, war. To be quite honest, growing up in the states, I was privy to not one mention of Vietnam that wasn’t related to the war and so its all I knew. Coming here was another lesson in what the world is like when you see it unfiltered, without bias, without a political agenda in mind and without fear. Vietnam is a beautiful place and while I have deep sympathy for the brave men and women from all over the world (including Vietnam) that lost their lives or loved ones during what I consider a very dark time in not just my nations history, but the history of humanity, I leave Vietnam with a much more hopeful and peaceful image in my head of the country. Sorry, this is ending up to be not-so-quick anymore but I just had a decent cup of coffee and my lil cranium is crankin. The strongest and most poignant moments for me came in the sincere welcoming I received from the Vietnamese men and woman. The moment I told an elderly man that I was from the United States and saw his face explain to me with a kind smile that we may have a different past, but our future is at peace and one of friendship. There is a wonderful culture and energy to this country that needs to be experienced and appreciated for more than just its sad place in the history books and I hope that with our blogs we have been able to do that even a little bit for those who read.
Thanks as always for reading, we do Cambodia next!
-Nicole and Adam