4th March to 7th March
04.03.2014 - 07.03.2014
We have noticed that less people are looking at the blog, so we thought we’d put something funny in to boost numbers! Here is a picture of Matt’s ticket from Angkor Wat which put us in stiches. If you like this, tell others!!
From Ho Chi Minh City we were popped in a nice sleeper bus for our eight hour journey to Dalat in the central highlands. As we approached the town, we ascended into the hills through beautiful scenery and pine trees – it reminded us of the Alps! We were supposed to be dropped off in town, but of course this being Vietnam no-one really does what they promise and we stopped at the bus station. Some moto driver tried to rip us off by charging us a fortune to get in, but we waited it out and got a free minivan to the centre. We are learning more and more that the Vietnamese love to scam tourists and it appears to be a national hobby – they are even worse than the Thais! Their roodness is evenly on the scale of the Thai’s. Dalat itself was a lovely little town with a nice lake in the middle, flower gardens everywhere, parks and a golfcourse. It is called little Paris because of the eternal spring climate, florescent lights everywhere and the tiny ‘Eiffel’ tower which is really just a signal tower. The spring climate was also quite apparent with the chilly evenings. In the evening we had a spectacular white hot chocolate at a café which was made all the more enjoyable by the mistranslation of the male toilet cubicle – it was called a ‘defecation room’!
On the first day we rented a tandem bike which if anyone hasn’t ridden one before is really difficult to cycle particularly when lunatic motorbike drivers whizz around you! Eventually we got the technique right and headed around the lake to a massive flower garden which was beautiful (our mums would have loved it) apart from the poor horses tied up to stationary flower carts in the sun all day. After the lake, we headed up to the cable car which took us across the pine-covered mountains to a beautiful temple/monastery. Buddhism in Vietnam follows a different branch than in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, and so the temples are a lot more simplistic with big wooden structures, tranquil sounds of perfectly tuned windchimes and ornate gardens. And they are so peaceful, so we chilled there for a little while before finding the well-hidden path back through the pine forests to where we had left our bike. We thought we did really well finding the path until we were sinking into a little ‘swamp’ right at the last ascent where the path suddenly ended. Then it was off to an attraction called crazy house which was just fantastic. It is basically a hotel, but has some of the most unique architecture we have ever seen resembling Alice in Wonderland meets Harry Potter with a maze of steps and passages weaving around different house structures that looked like trees with paths that went over roofs and into other houses, formed like animals – it was quite amazing and challenges the whole idea of conventional architecture. We thought about staying there but couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of moving rooms so decided to stay where we were. In the evening we wandered around the lively and not touristy market and then Matt drank his Dalat wine – it wasn’t really wine but more alcoholic fruit juice so Susanne had a try too!
The next day we rented a motorbike and braved the roads to head to Lang Biang Mountain. We later learnt that you actually need a licence in Vietnam for small, automatic motos so if you have an accident and it’s your fault, any insurance you have won’t cover you – and it is ALWAYS your fault in Vietnam anyway because you’re western and naturally that means you have to be richer than the Vietnamese person even if that isn’t the case! We survived the journey though, but definitely won’t hire one again in this crazy country. When we arrived at the mountain entrance we were greeted by very rude ticket people and missed out on a free jeep ride half way up the mountain because they didn’t tell us, so we had to walk up the road for 3kms. We then found the entrance to a small path that lead to the top of the mountain through beautiful pine forest with no cars and few other tourists. After a couple of kilometres, the surroundings suddenly changed into dense jungle-like forest which led to 650metres worth of steps that went straight to the top – it was an exhausting climb but well worth it with the wonderful views from the top. After the mountain, we took our motorbike and headed to the so-called Valley of Love which is basically a big lake with a theme park type feel. It was the most kitsch place we have been to with massive love heart shapes everywhere and My Heart Will Go On playing out of the speakers! After a drive around looking for another lake which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, we stocked up on stuff from the supermarket and then went for dinner. Before bed, we milled around the market again and thought we’d brave eating some quails’ eggs that were on the street stalls – what a mistake that was. They were actually fertilised eggs, so inside the shell was a nice quail foetus looking back at you, it was quite disgusting. We had heard that they did it with hens’ eggs but we’d never heard of it with quails! Basically don’t trust any eggs you buy off the street in Vietnam!
In the morning we had a lovely breakfast on our balcony from the stuff we had gathered yesterday as well as another sublime white hot chocolate. Then it was into a minivan for our trip to Nha Trang where we needed to change to a sleeper bus for Hoi An. The journey through the mountains was absolutely stunning as we descended down to the coast; it rivalled the scenery in northern Laos. The bus was luxurious as we shared a 21 seater bus with another 4 people. Once in Nha Trang, we had a couple of hours to wander around before our bus. It is a really large city right on the coast with massive mountains looming in the background. The beach was nice but packed and had a busy road behind it so we were glad we didn’t stay here. After dinner it was off to the tour agent’s office to catch our sleeper bus to Hoi An. We were picked up by a crammed minivan full of luggage and other tourists which took us to the bus station – not a good start! The people dealing with us were unbelievably rude ordering us around like cattle. We were shepherded onto a banged up old bus full of more sleeper beds than should be allowed, and crammed full of boxes and luggage at the back. Our bags weren’t put underneath the bus but instead were forced into the toilet – so obviously the toilet was out of action! Then they started to cram more local Vietnamese people in so that there were people lying on padded cushions in the aisles – it was awful. The driver was also a bit of a nutter, but we made to Hoi An early in the morning safe and sound and even managed to get some sleep – what a journey! Hopefully famous Hoi An will cheer us up!