As the bus slowly wound it way high up into the hills we slept … amazingly. You never know if its going to be a good ride or not when you depart on an overnight bus trip. Some are torturous, you toss and turn, you watch the erratic overtaking moves the driver attempts and you hold your breath as the bus just slips back into the correct lane missing the oncoming car by just centimetres and then you close your eyes; willing sleep to engulf you to take the fear away. However on this journey we both slept, and slept amazingly well.
We awoke at 4:30am as the bus came to a holt at Dalat Bus Station. We collected our bags and jumped into a taxi to take us down to a Hotel we had been recommended by friends. The taxi dropped us off outside the Hotel however it was closed. We were sure it would open soon enough and we really wanted to stay there as we had heard it was quite nice so we waited. And Waited. And Waited. It was cold up in the hills so we got a few more layers of clothing out of our bags and sat and relaxed. We watched the town come alive as the locals went for their morning run, the baguette ladies walked their carts down the road and setup shop just opposite us and other ladies lugged their fresh produce to the morning market to sell. And we waited. The other hotels along the street opened so Duane went to check out their rooms but with the owners unable to understand a lick of english it was a fruitless attempt. So we waited. And waited. And waited. After waiting two and a half hours a local walking past stopped and dialled a number on his phone. Within minutes the hotel door opened and he walked away. He had woken the staff to finally let us in! The friendliness of strangers is the most humbling feeling, especially in these situations when you are exhausted and stranded and these angels always seem to appear just at the right time.
We checked-in and headed straight to bed. No matter how well you sleep on an overnight trip you always need another 2-3 hours rest before you attempt to unravel a new city. Refreshed and ready we got ourselves a map and set off. We were by this time extremely hungry and our hotel had a discount coupon for a cafe in town so we decided to give it a shot – we aren’t one to pass up a discount coupon these days! We followed the map, and got rather confused. We read the map again and realised the map wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, it was completely wrong. We arrived at the cafe without too much trouble as luckily we had realised the maps shortcomings before getting ourselves lost in the maze of Dalat streets. We sat and had the most delicious fresh salad and a nice warm coffee.
The rest of the morning was spent visiting the markets where we purchased some fresh fruit. Then the rain came and we headed back to our hotel.
We spent our rainy afternoon catching up with two guys (Andy & Steve) who we had met months ago on the Slow Boat in Laos and we had also spent the Laos New Year with. We also met another couple from Canada who had come down from the North of Vietnam and it turned out we were visiting most of the same places just in the opposite order so we swapped stories and advice. The following morning the boys headed off for Nha Trang and we decided to head to Prenn Waterfall and we had also heard of a ‘Crazy House’ which we had been told was worth a visit. It turned out Joe & Casey (The Canadian couple) had the same plans so we suggested sharing a taxi to cut costs. We caught the luge down to the waterfall which was heaps of fun. The waterfall was beautiful although very different to the other waterfalls we had visited on our travels. The amount of water gushing down the falls was impressive and made for some great photographs. There was also an option of catching a cable car further out where it looked like even better pictures could be captured however we decided against this as it was going to cost an extra few dollars which when we already had great pictures we decided it was money we just didn’t need to spend. Next stop for the day was the Crazy House where the owner is slowly building a house that is simply ‘Crazy’. It was like a maze and it was so funky. You can actually book a room and stay there but we were glad we didn’t when we noticed how many tourists there are visiting each day peering into all the rooms. There were also some lovely views over the city from some of the high paths that link the different sections of the house with others. It’s definitely worth a visit as we had seen nothing quite like it before.
As we left the Crazy House the rain started to fall … it seems to be beautiful in the mornings in Dalat at this time of the year and then the rain sets in for
the afternoon. Joe and Casey got hold of a bottle of local Dalat Red Wine so we went back to the Hotel and all enjoyed a few glasses. Then we decided that we wanted a bottle of Dalat white wine with some cheese and crackers. The boys headed off as the rain had eased a little in hunt of the goodies. As they left Kim called out to Duane telling him to take an umbrella or jacket but ‘she’ll be right’ was the response – and then they were gone. Within 5 minutes the skies opened up and the rain fell and it fell heavy. Ten minutes later the boys walked past draped in a plastic sheet with two holes cut in the top – double poncho! It turns out they were hiding from the rain outside a furniture shop and the lady inside felt sorry for them so grabbed the plastic cover off a mattress and cut holes in it for them to wear. It was a hilarious sight and great entertainment for the locals as the boys then set off again on the hunt for the wine, Cheese and Crackers.
The following morning it was back onto a bus to head to Nha Trang. We could have spent so much more time in Dalat. You can go hiking in the hills and there are temples to visit however with the rain hitting hard each day we decided to strike hiking off the ‘to do’ list and we had seen so many temples in the past few months we decided to have a temple detox. You will also meet many ‘Easy Riders’ upon arrival to Dalat. These guys run tours of the city or longer 3 – 21 day motorbike tours throughout Vietnam. We debated going on a 7 day tour from Dalat to Hoi An up through the Highlands, it would have been absolutely amazing but again decided against it due to the constant rain. We had done our time on a bike in the rain when in Laos and decide a try bus was the best way to get to our next stop. Dalat is a city that is so naturally beautiful with a great market area that buzzes with atmosphere in the evenings – you could really get swept up in the place and stay a good week, easily! It’s also so much cooler than the coastal cities which is such a nice relief.