After our English “teaching” experience in Ho Chi Minh City we decided to take some time to ourselves and explore a little more of South Vietnam. We wanted to go to a few more places but already having onward flights booked from HCMC meant we couldn’t stray too far north.
Dalat is a lovely place 1500m above sea level in the south of Vietnam famous for flowers and strawberries because of its cooler climate. An awesome prospect for an Englishman, and music to my hot and humid ears.
A beautifully comfortable sleeper bus took us the 7 hour journey, and we opted for the first one of the day at 6am. The thought process being that we’d be tired from getting up early and sleep a bit of the way. As we got ourselves comfy and set off we soon found out that sleep would be difficult to come by because of the driver’s constant use of the horn and inability to provide a smooth ride. Thankfully my ability to sleep on a chicken’s lip allowed me to snooze for a couple of hours.
I’ve never had a problem with motion sickness thankfully and so reading or using a computer on a train or coach is fine for me. Seda on the other hand has never been able to do either until now. She found that lying down with the curtains closed she could fool herself into thinking that we weren’t moving and could comfortably read her book which helped pass the time.
We’d done a bit of research before we left for Dalat and so knew the things we wanted to see and places we wanted to go already. On our first full day we headed out after breakfast towards a place called Crazy House. It looked like a fun place to walk around, but when we eventually got there we found it to be rather small, and they were charging quite a bit to get in. We decided to give it a miss and headed off towards Nhà thò Chánh Tòa church which we’d heard was beautiful. Although we weren’t allowed inside, the church grounds were a lovely place to spend an hour relaxing in the shade. The lack of seating allowed me to practice my “Asian squat” technique!
After the church we headed down the hill towards the town’s man made lake to find a nice spot for lunch before heading to Dalat’s most famous landmark – The Flower Garden. This is a must see when in Dalat and it didn’t disappoint. The significantly cooler temperature here allows flowers to flourish and we found the displays in the garden to be beautiful. A team of gardeners constantly maintain all the features and there seemed to be photo opportunities everywhere we looked.
There were all sorts of displays throughout the gardens including dragons, love hearts, and a train. Of course Seda wanted pictures in front of everything which took most of the afternoon!
As Seda was taking so long looking at all the flowers, I thought I’d kill some time with a small glass of wine….
….but then I realised I was missing work SOOOO much I thought I’d have a little drive of their toy train, so I thought I’d better not have that drink after all. I think the train is meant for much smaller drivers though!
In the evening we had a wander around the night market marvelling at how, unlike other markets we’d seen in Hanoi and HCMC, they sell jackets, sweaters, scarves, gloves and thick socks. All of a sudden a twinge of homesickness came over me.
Our friends Peta and Jonas who previously visited Dalat and had given us a couple of good place names to visit for a drink or two. The pub culture is quite different here as you can imagine. I’ve stood at the bar to have a pint all my life back home but here, if you stick around the counter area, the waiters approach and ask “is there something else we can get you sir?!” My wife the squirrel, sorry I mean Seda, was enjoying the jar of peanuts she’d found on the way while I was trying to understand how these guys managed to produce such good beer for 30p!
We really didn’t want to leave Dalat so soon as we could’ve easily stretched it well into a week, but plans were already made so we left our lovely hotel with a saggy bottom lip and took the long journey back to HCMC. If you do ever come to South Vietnam, we thoroughly recommend spending some time in Dalat. It really was a lovely little town.