Delightful Dalat

Hello from Dalat, Vietnam!

We left HCM City at 9am on 25th and a mere 8 hours and 320 Km later arrived in Dalat which is a small town in the highlands on a plateau 1500m above sea level. It is cold here! For the first time we have broken out our hoodies from the backpacks! The town is also known as “the city of eternal spring” as the weather is always the same between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius, which means there are all kinds of fruit and vegetables growing all year round.

The hostel we are staying in is lovely. It kind of feels like staying at a relatives house as everyone is so friendly. The room is basic but perfect. On our first day here we did very little, other than wonder about the town. Pez and I tried Vietnam’s version of pizza, which is odd to say the least. The base is made of sweet pastry! Pez ate most of his anyway!

Today, we went on an “easy-rider” tour around Dalat, which is basically hopping on the back of a motorbike. Last night, I was really worried as I have never been on a bike before, but to my surprise it was a smooth and relatively slow ride. We set off at 7am, Pez on the back of a girl named Sun and I was on the back of a guy who did not speak any English! First we visited a cricket farm and then were offered a plate of deep fried adult crickets with chilli sauce to try. I am ashamed to say neither of us could bring ourselves to eat any. I tired and picked one up but one of it’s legs was sticking out of the batter and I just couldn’t bear it! Sun thought we were really odd for not wanting to try but she was happy enough as there were more for her.

Next we visited a silk farm, which is my idea of hell. Silk worms galore hatching into hideous white moths. Ick. Thankfully, none were flying around so I contained my fear. Each cocoon is a tightly wound bundle of silk which they dunk in hot water and unravel, then use the reels of silk to make scarves, ties and gowns with a Victorian style loom. I bought a silk scarf for £3!

Dalat is most famous for the waterfalls all around the area, most of which are overrun with tourists. Our tour was a secret run by the hostel as they go to the areas without any other people around. We went to a waterfall called the Elephant and climbed down into a cave under the fall (and got absolutely soaked!). It was incredible!

On the way to visit a local village tribe in the hills, we stopped to look at a coffee farm. Sun told us that coffee was selling for 45,000 Dong last year but now it is about 25000 Dong. She said that the drop in price caused a lot of people to commit suicide as they lost a lot of money this year. When we got to the village we met Rot, who works at the hostel where we are staying. We stopped at his parents house who made us tofu and noodle soup. Pez did very well to try lots of it. I thought it was delicious and ate 2 bowls! Then Sun provided us with heaps of local fruit. We tried miniature apples, water apple, dragon fruit, and a load of others that I don’t know how to pronounce or spell! All things I have never heard of and nothing whatsoever like fruit in the UK. Some was savoury, some was like powder on the inside. After lunch we walked further into the village and sat with a family who make handwoven silk. It is so intricate and much more skilled than the loom in the factory. It started to pour with rain and the children playing outside came running in. The grandma picked up one of her bamboo sticks and thwacked them all viciously. We didn’t really understand why!

Finally we started the journey back, and stopped at a mushroom farm halfway, where they grow mushrooms called elephant ears, you can guess why! The journey back was exhausting as we didn’t stop as often. Our bums and backs are completely broken! Hopefully we can sleep it off tonight so we are repaired for the bus to the seaside town of Nha Trang tomorrow morning.

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