March 6, 2007 - Da Lat, Vietnam
February 16, 2007
Ah… The cafes. The coffee. The baguettes.
And none of the
snobbery French prices.
We rolled into Da Lat on a night bus, the four of us slightly disoriented and not completely rested. Fitful sleep on the bus combined with a strange Europeanish architecture in Da Lat created a haze that confused me the entire time I was in town - what country was I in?
Walking up the hill towards our only planned hotel of the trip - thanks to the Vietnam VIA vols that had conference in Da Lat weeks before - I caught my first whiff of baking bread. Honest. Real. Rising. Bread. Little carts with baguettes piled high in their display windows just waiting for a dollop of the famous Da Lat strawberry jam or Vietnamese cold-cuts.
As we made our way into the hotel a small creature skittered - almost sideways - down a set of stone steps into the reception area. My seventh sense went off immediately. Something about him reminded me of Gollum1 - maybe the way he skritched across the floor or the way he looked ever so slightly sideways at you like you might hit him for his petulance at any time - his high, nasally voice didn’t help. My fears were never really realized, no scam materialized, but he still wasn’t right.
Our hotel balcony overlooked the main drag in town - looking across a small valley filled with small houses, lots of power lines and a river we could see a replica Eiffel Tower sitting next to a rather Western-styled church - perched on a steep hill.
We spent the rest of the day wandering - perception still slightly clouded by travel and the markedly non-Vietnamese feel of the buildings - and made our way through the market. The market felt fully authentic, no mistaking the South East Asian market feel, even though many of the small shops stood under vaulted archways. The start of Tet2 was only a day away and the market seemed especially busy selling last minute lucky watermelons and dragon fruit.
February 17, 2007
Waking much more aware than the previous day, we took the suggestion of a well-known guidebook and rented motorbikes as well as a guide for the day. Not just any guide however… no, not at all. He just happened to be an Easy Rider. Queue Fonda-esque rite of passage. To give him credit he far out-shined the horrible name of his organization.
Scott & I on our very own and Shannon riding back-up on our Easy Riders’ motorbike we headed down the hill and out of town.
Eight hours later we had seen a nice slice of the country-side around Da Lat. Stopping at strawberry fields, a rice-wine distillery, coffee plantations, an impressive waterfall, a silk-worm farm and by far the best Buddha statue I have ever been graced with seeing.
The only small blemish on the day was a return of what we collectively dubbed “Uncle Hos’ Revenge,” a nasty case of intestinal upheaval that struck my two traveling companions in and leaving Da Lat.
That’s right it skipped me. Thbbbb!
Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?