Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Dalat

27-30 March

We arrive in Dalat after 5pm, which is never ideal as it makes it so difficult to get your bearings. The journey into the mountains was slow but scenic, and not quite as scary as we had been told. On the way we pass a dam and a line of pipe which cuts through the forest lookimg like it's straight out of a bond movie.

Once in Dalat we check into our hotel (possibly the worst yet) and head into the town. Searching for somewhere nice to eat after a 5 hour journey, and having no idea where to go makes everything seem 10 times harder. We eventually find a cluster of places amongst the countless cafes and settle in.

We try to get some sleep through the inexplicable banging and crashing that goes on through the night.

In the morning we are ready to give Dalat a second chance, knowing places by day can be a totally different story to their nighttime versions. We start by getting our tickets for the bus out and grab a very tasty breakfast at the popular V Cafe. Eggs and bacon are on the menu, and the stereo is playing a mix of jazz and blues. Perhaps Dalat is Le Petite Paris after all?

Filled up we start the day walking to Crazy House, which deserves its name. Anyone who's been to the Antoni Gaudi house in Barcelona will have an idea of what its like. For those who haven't it's a house designed to break architectural rules. The stairs sometimes climb over the roof and there are niches which have been turned into rooms. Its exciting and we dive in happy to see a little character.





After, we walk back to the lake and try to find the famed flower gardens. Our map is'nt very good and we end up walking around a golf course, of which one of the roads is complete, the other a dusty work in progress. Eventually though we find the gardens. They end up being no more than nicely planted pots, and we decide not to go in. Instead we walk back along the lake instead, passing an ice cream bike, and man taking a nap in the middle of the pavement (and why wouldn't you).

All this time I havent realised how strong the sun has been on my shoulders; its about 10 degrees cooler here. By the end of the day im a bit worse for wear!

The following day we'd booked a trek with Groovy Gecko Tours. We are picked up at 9.30 and driven out into the countryside then we are off!

The trek starts with a very steep ascent to somewhere around 1600ft. Its a hard climb, and I start to realise how long its been since I did a strong cardio workout. Im definitely getting one now! At the top we get a stunning view of Dalat nestled between the surrounding hills. Jungle and forest spread as far as the eye can see, breaking only for the man made lake.

As we start our decent, the forest quickly turns to jungle. Its immediately cooler and wetter and we are told to watch out for leeches. We trek through listening to the sounds of the birds. As the jungle thins the route gets steeper, then suddenly we are on the banks of the lake. Walking through the last of the trees I spot something in the distance. I ask in shock if it's real and Mark assures me it is. Stood in front of me in an elephant! He is clearly there for tourist rides, and looks a little sad about it, but it's the last thing I was expecting to see!

Our guide prepares our lunch whilst we gaze at the lake, and I eat so much fresh mango I nearly pop. It was a great day and just what we needed after weeks of towns and city.





We dont have much trouble getting an early night after such an exhausting day. Good thing too, we've another early start in the morning as we travel to Nha Trang!