a cooling down...the end of the trip becomes a reality. i gel
14.12.2008 - 16.12.2008 -17 °C
Another night bus awaits. This time, Trevor my Abundantly Life Loving and Lucky friend, accompanied me on the long over night passage. armed with Clementines, I with a short novel (i cant even remember it now) and he with Harry Potter, we squeezed 5 abreast in the back row of the sleeper Bus. I slept somewhat less comfortably. Nha Trhang we took a walk in the early morning sun--She was actually rising out of the ocean in the only hue of orange that out shun even Trevor's vibrant spiked Crown. Geometrically trimmed bushes and trees formed a scene scape of leafy living cubes, cones, and pyramids.
I remember this morning as being irritating: the pesky motos and hockers were really getting to us, more than usual. The coffee was confusing, (how do you--...oh now all the coffee grounds spilled in--) and I still wasn't understanding the sweet milk ratio, and we were tired and still had a long bus ride ahead. Things picked up as we left the Vietnamese coastline and headed into the highlands. We climbed into the foothills of the central highlands.
The land became deliciously hilly and the outside air tempature dropped to a lovely 70 something. My ears popped just before we hit the outskirts of Dalat, the San Fransisco of Vietnam.
The city is much larger than I expected, with houses and avenues built right into the hilly country side. thousands of terraced gardens are etched into the countryside around-growing dozens of types of vegetables, flowers, and coffee. The town was picturesque, with a large in town lake, a miniature Eiffel tower, and a bustling central market.
Trevor and I stayed at Peace Cafe, which was alright for a few days, but I wouldn't stay there again. The ladies that run it are nice enough, but every penny will be haggled over and th
ey'll be trying to get you to use their motorbikes and tours and eat every meal in their cafe....
Otherwise, as said, place was nice enough. I talked with some easy riders and arranged a tour for the next day.
Trevor and my tour the next day was outstanding. Tue and Hung took us on the back of their bad-ass motorbikes around the countryside of Dalat.
Flower plantations are everywhere, and Dalat's flowers are shipped all over the world, especially to Singapore. We stopped in at a flower plantation to smell the roses
Dalat is also known for its coffee growing. And indeed, it was in this city that I finally learned the joys of Vietnamese coffee enjoyed properly. Here's me at a coffee growing plantation
It was already coffee harvesting time and so people had spread huge tarps out in the sun on front of their houses and were drying the coffee in the sun. Almost every house had its own small coffee plot and varying sizes of coffee tarps laying out to dry.
The Trevor and I and our cool Easy Riders arrived at Elephant Falls. They were outstanding! The water just flew over a precipice that was very wide and the bottom was full of large vegetation covered boulders. Trevor and I got as close as we could, which meant a very wet slippery climb to the bottom. It was worth it though. The views were amazing. I didn't take too many pictures because the spray of the waterfalls might have ruined my camera...
We were thoroughly soaked when we got back on our Easy Riders. The 45 Kms or so back to Dalat dryed us well off though. We did make a quick stop at a passion fruit growing farm. Here I took another TIMMMYYYY photo shoot
We then came to another waterfall, Dantanla (or somesuch name). And we opted out of riding the rollarcoaster ride down, but we came to regret our decision later.
The way up was steep and long, so Trev and I rode the roller coaster UP the hill.......
And went to Passion Lake. The lake wasn't very exciting, to tell the truth, but the meditation retreat was beeeaaauuutiful! The gardens were just exquisite. Dalat really has the perfect weather for growing flowers. Monks walked around looking very pious in their robes, the scent of incense wafted on the air, and bells and chimes resonated from the temples.
When we arrived back at Peace Cafe, who should we meet but Reid, fresh of his bike from the long climb from Nha Thrang himself. Luke, his cousin was with him, staying in a nearby hotel. That night we all got together for a mediocre pasta dinner and some good times at "the Hangout place". It was there that we found santa kinda ostrasized on a far off table.....
and it didn't take a few infantile minds currupted with beer very long for this to happen
I don't think they minded tho
SOOOO, the next day Trevor left us and moved on to Saigon. Luke and Reid and I rented scooters and zoomed back to the Dantanla waterfalls I'd been to the day before. They were keen for the waterfalls. I was keen to do the roller coaster. The roller coaster was all that I hoped it would be. zooooooooooooooooooooom!
There was a little vietnamse man dressed up in a big bear/ape costume, with his head off smoking a cigg. I wish I got a photo of it. I climbed to the top of the water falls also. Beautiful view!
Then we rode the rollar coaster up, and scooted hither and thither. I did a little off roading with the boys, and got stuck one time on a big hill. How was I supposed to know you had to go into first gear to climb a hill, no one ever told me that before. Fortunatly, I somehow figured it out and was on my way in no time:
We then went to Stop and Go Cafe, which is in Dalat town and is run by a very interesting gardener/artist/poet by the name of Mr. Viet. I later went back and purchased several works of art from him. But at this time, we were simply treated to him delicious cherry tea and homemade sweet cakes, and invited to look in his gallery and sign his guestbook which had the names of many foreign dignitaries and diplomats. He also bestows all female guests with flowers for their hair....
Luke, Mr. Viet, and I
Here's me in Mr. Viet's garden
Then the boys and I had some serious hunger. So we went to 100 Roofs. I tell ya, there are some amazing architects in Vietnam. This place was like being in jungle but IN a cafe. There was so much detail and attention to detail that this place was in itself a work of art. We sat on tree trunks and peered down on the traffic below while enjoying delicious curries.
That evening we rested and then went to V Cafe, which also rocked our world. YUM YUM!
The next day we went to CRAZY HOUSE, which if you go to Dalat, you HAVE to go to Crazy House! Yet another kookie vietnamese archatecht built this insane house which is also a hotel you can stay in. All the rooms are themed and have mirrors all around the beds and fire places and their just full of character. Check it out, you'll see what I mean!!
Then we three went to the market and bought a picnic lunch. It was fun! We were the only round-eyes in the market, and it was fun going around trying to get a bargen on cucumbers, tomatoes, and baguettes. We we happily basking in the sun by the lake, a few eggs hardboiling on our gas mini-cooker. It didn't take but 8 seconds before locals began showing up out of curiousity and pointing and grinning and pointing us out to passers-by. Soon we had about 5 locals, speaking no words of english, making themselves right at home.
The culture there doesn't really allow for "personal space" and so these people got right up in our picnic much to our chagrin. At first it was kinda funny but then it got to be a bit of a bother. One guy just took his shoes off and laid down on our blanket and took a nap. Another guy squatted so close to Ried that he was using him to balance, two hands placed tenderly on Reids thigh.
What's with people touching Ried? I might mention here a favorite story of mine, when Ried was "cupped" by a Vietnamese for apparently no reason other than he was wearing biker shorts, admittedly an oddity in Vietnam, but none-the-less, what the hell are they touching his family jewels for?
So now Ried has yet another Vietnamese getting too close for comfort and Ried just starts messing with him. He squeezes the man's earlobes. he unbutton the top buttons of the dudes shirt. The dude just smiles and laughs confusedly. I'm laughing so hard sandwich bits are flying out of my mouth at high speed. The ladies that sell sunglasses and Vietnamese pastries on bamboo poles have stopped by also, not so much to sell their wares (they did try), but just to watch these crazy round-eyes construct sandwiches and boil eggs by the lake. A child is with some of them with a toy cell phone that makes horrible toy cell phone noises.
Then, all at once, they leave us, and we munch along in peace, still laughing about the strangeness of it all.
Here's a photo of me in the dress I had made in Hoi An
That evening we went to the market for some local stall food which was cheap and delicious. There is nothing more fun than to sit on teeny weeny chairs and order god-knows-what and sit with all the locals and have a laugh and a smile, since conversation is impossible. The full moon was high over head. They closed one of the busy intersections to traffic and children dressed as karate santas were flying around at breakneck speed on little wheeled carts. Infants toting balloons and chattering teenagers crowded the scene and at the night market vendors were selling clothing like sweaters, hats, and scarves by the kilo.
More to come...bet on it