Dalat

The bus from Mui Ne to Dalat took us from the beach to the mountains via a mountain road with numerous bends and steep climbs as well as a few concerningly crumbly patches of road. The locals didn’t seem to enjoy the trip, judging by the sounds of vomiting coming from the front of the bus. We didn’t mind it too much having done enough of these journeys by now and the and the scenery was beautiful along the way.

After finding our hostel, we went for food and had a very authentic bowl of pork noodle soup. It was very offal flavoured which at first was nice but soon became too much and the nondescript lumps of meat-type substances were of varying pleasantness. Afterwards, we found a much safer Banh Mi which filled the remaining hole.

We pretty much spent the rest of the day walking around town and found a very strange bar that was built like a maze and was massive! We explored it for the duration of our drinks and eventually found the lovely garden out the back, but it was raining so we made our way back and carried on through town. We decided that bar would be the perfect place for a Halloween party, it was dark and narrow and perfect for fright night.

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Our hostel did “family dinners” which was basically free food at 6pm. After going to a smoothie bar next door for some fruity goodness, which after a full 30 minutes of faffing we discovered was not possible due to his 1 blender being broken, we made the most of the free noodles and were planning on heading to the night market but it started pouring with rain, so opted for a much needed early night instead.

The landscape around Dalat is lovely, so we explored the countryside by motorbike, heading roughly in the direction of the Elephant Falls, 60km away. The ride took us through coffee plantations and flower nurseries, past temples and local villages and into many potholes. It was a really nice ride and it felt good to be riding through the countryside again.

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The falls themselves were powerful but not that exciting and were very difficult to observe without getting drenched! We also had a look around the neighbouring pagoda which was nice and had a very happy Buddha statue.

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On the way back to town we stopped off at a coffee shop to sample the local produce, which was nice but not amazing, and met a local man who was very intrigued by us and our bikes but couldn’t articulate exactly what had caught his attention. He was a nice old man though and sent us on our way. As we went through the villages we noticed a lot of people dancing in Chinese dragon outfits but couldn’t work out why.

We stopped off at the “Crazy House” on the way back. It’s a house/hotel/tourist attraction that was designed by one of the most famous Vietnamese architects and is both huge and utterly bizarre. We think it’s meant to be be a bit like a Gaudi style design, but it’s lacking the detail & any kind of quality craftmanship which all adds up to a very very odd place.

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Having had enough of it, we tried to escape and ended up in the underwater room. I was totally baffled, this was the weirdest part of the whole thing!

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The Underwater Room in the Crazy House. Totally bizarre.

At family dinner, we found out it was the mid-autumn festival that day, so we went out to the market to have a look at the festivities. It appeared to be a similar thing to fireworks night in the UK, where all the kids were out with their parents looking at everything while wrapped up in hats, gloves, scarves and down jackets. It was at least 20 degrees outside…

The market itself was relatively interesting, a proper locals market with all kinds of clothes, toys, jewellery, flowers vegetables and more. The massive piles of enormous avocados looked incredible, so we tried to buy a couple but were waved away by the lady on the stand! We tried somewhere else and it turned out none of them were ripe, as it isn’t actually avocado season so we were a bit baffled as to why there were so many people selling them, avo-less we went back to the festivities.

For most of the night, there appeared to be one main attraction, the very tall white guy. As I moved through the crowds a sea of (very short) heads would turn and look, particularly when I walked past someone with their child on their shoulders but combined were still shorter than me. I meanwhile was enjoying all the dragon dancing (some of which were fire-breathing) and the giant tissue paper dog that randomly appeared.

Having had our fill of mid-autumn festivities we looked to fill our stomachs with some street food. We had some sweet potato, a crepe/omelette thing that was really good and some strawberries covered in a spicy salty sprinkle that was at first tasty but soon horrible to eat. On the way home we found the highlight, a mini quails egg + ham + chicken + spring onion thing that was cooked in a bitesize pan over coals. We tentatively had 1 at first before very quickly ordering a second as soon as we had tried it!

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Our bus out of Dalat didn’t leave until 4pm so we spent our last day by walking around (starting our training for Nepal, for which we need to get fitter!) in the direction of the cable car in the city. We ended up walking about 5km there (via a banh mi shop which is apparently “famous on the internet” and had an endless stream of Vietnamese people taking photos outside it – including one wearing a Nottingham University hoodie who we chatted to for a bit as he had also studied there), before taking a trip on the slightly random cable car to a Pagoda which was really nice – very calming and it had very pretty gardens.

We then took the return trip and hurredly walked back to the hostel via a banh-mi shop to pick up 4 sandwiches (3 for me, 1 for Claire) to get us through the evening. We made it just in time to change into less sweaty clothes and pay before the small bus that took us to the main bus arrived and we were on our way.

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