Dalat (Central Highlands), Vietnam

Decided to try and see a bit of ‘real’ Vietnam and spend a few days inland. Interesting journey inland to say the least. I thought we had potholes in Ireland, we were basically travelling on a two way road with only one way…half the road had fallen down a cliff at one stage. Amazing scenery though…and some interesting travelling companions – had never met a female Australian drover before, pretty cool (no it was not Nicole Kidman but she actually looked like her!). Stayed in this home-stay place called Phuong Thanh, very nice.

There’s this company called Easy Riders who bring you on motorbike tours of the countryside. We took a day tour for $20 each with Chuong and Tuan, mighty men! Left at 8am and had a quick breakfast in the Peace Cafe, where every Westerner seems to congregate. Took in some pagodas and learned a whole lot about Buddhism from Chuong (our 46 year old veteran guide). Did you know that Hitler studied a bit of Buddhism and the swastika is actually a Buddhist emblem? Believe it! Then on to see some of the Dalat countryside; flower gardens and vegetable plantations. Dalat gets some pretty wet weather so has some of the best flowers and vegetables in the country. I actually couldn’t believe the weather – it was just like Ireland. Nice to have a break from the heat and wear a cardigan. Yes I realise I sound 140. 

We stopped by a coffee plantation and walked around the coffee trees. Chuong asked if we knew what he was showing us and when we said coffee he was shocked! He asked where we had seen them before and we were like Google. As we were leaving there were 2 little kids just playing (on the road might I add) and I said hello and waved to the little girl – I’ve never before seen somebody get so excited by a hello! She gave me this massive smile and wave. So cute. Then we went on to a waterfall which apparently had some stones in the shape of a fallen over elephant at the bottom, which I couldn’t quite see. Next stop: a silk-making factory; cocoons and worms included. The girls working in factory (apparently men don’t have the patience for this job) boil the cocoons (worms and all) and find the beginning of the silk thread by stiring the cocoons with chopsticks. They then use loom-type machines to spin the silk into a spool of raw silk . The best worms are kept and sold to some elderly people in the area…for snacking on. Nice. The rest are sent on to make animal feed. We then stopped at this random guys house – he was making rush brushes (which they all use over here) and he gave us some avocados to munch on. Nice guy. Next on to this guesthouse called Hang Nga or the Crazy House. Basically this mentalist (probably related to Gaudi) has designed a house which is like something from the Flintstones, lots of nooks and crannies and looks a bit like a haunted house. Very strange.

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