Our 5 hour bus ride up from Saigon to Dalat went without any issues, it’s was a clean bus, comfortable and we got free water which was handy as the bus was actually 7 and a half hours rather than the quoted 5. Ah well, we made it I guess. Arriving at the bus station in Dalat later than planned, we were left with finding our way in to the centre of Dalat and finding some accommodation.
Fortunately, on the bus there were a couple of lads from the UK which we got talking to and managed to get in on their taxi into town, saving some vital Dong. They also seemed to have found a pretty reasonable hotel in the center too which we booked ourselves into. Possibly one of the nicer rooms which we’ve stayed in, a proper bed with duvet for a start.
As it was our fist night, we did what we usually do. Unpacked, showered and went in search of food. The four of us wandered up the hill to Dalat market, and after checking a few menus along the way, we kind of gave in to our hunger and sat in what resembled somebodies front room with a few extra tables. After dinner, a quick stroll through the night market which at this point was packing up and back to our hotel.
All four of us had heard of the Easy Riders in Dalat, a team of motorbike guides which will take you around the local area and explain things as you go. Brilliant, we told reception and 10 minutes later, Viet the leader of our Easy Rider gang arrived to talk us through the options, of which there were plenty. We only had time to do the 1 day around Dalat but were ever so tempted by the longer journeys up to Nah Trang, through the country seeing rural Vietnamese life with our guides on the back of their trusty motorbikes.
The following morning, and as planned Viet and his team were at reception of the hotel ready to take us off in to the hills. On the agenda today was plenty, including the Dragon Pagoda, Elephant Falls, the Crazy House, coffee plantations, silk farming and a lunch at a local fish farm.
First stop was the Dragon Pagoda, which was nice enough, giant fiberglass statues of lions, dragons and Buddhas which to me was lacking just a windmill and you’d have your pretty average crazy golf course. The real entertainment came outside the pagoda. Returning to the bikes, I decided it would be quicker (and more entertaining to the locals) if I fell down the flight of freshly watered steps. Head over heels all the way down, landing in the puddle at the bottom, I was left with a cut hand, bruised thumb, soaking bottom, bumped head and almost a broken camera. Oh, and I felt a little embarrassed.
Well as we entertainers say, the show must go on, and so it did, we stopped at a few more sights and our guides, with excellent English told us all we needed to know. We also stopped several times to take in the scenery around us, take some photo’s and rest our numb bums.
Of all the highlights however, we’d have to say that Elephant Falls was outstanding. Being able to look from the top, then climb down to stand behind the water fall was amazing, and quite refreshing. The Crazy House, with it’s never ending maze of corridors and staircases really does have to be seen to be believed. There’s something strange about this place, as I don’t think I’d be the only one to say, I’d love to live in a house like that (which for a few more dollars than we can afford, you can if only for a night).
Lunch was certainly a highlight of the day. For a few dollars each I think it was, we ate like kings. The girls in the restaurant, which overlooked the local fish farm, kept bringing us new dishes to try and all bar the Tofu was absolutely delicious. The meal successfully filled us up for the remainder of the day, which we’d later find would be very handy.
Other stops included a rather large happy Buddha and lessons in the production of Coffee, Silk and Snake Wine! Which apparently is good for you in moderation. So much so, my easy rider was quite happy to polish off the glass which the four of us could only sip from.
Dalat and the surrounding area is such a pleasant change to Saigon. The hustle & bustle, the noise, the heat and the motorbikes are all replaced for a much cooler retreat with a much more lade back lifestyle. Which is probably why, during the American war this city was spared from any damage as apparently leading figures on both side liked to come here to unwind and relax.
Being so far behind on the blog, we’re unfortunately starting to forget parts, there’s been so much to see and do between then & now so I’m sure we aren’t doing this day enough justice. Jemma, the much more organised of the two of us is keeping a diary which seems pretty accurate, while my diary lasted as far as the Thai islands before I gave up.
However, back to the point, we would quite happily recommend Viet and his team of riders to anybody looking to visit Dalat. In fact, his email address should you be in the area looking for an Easy Rider is firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone (084) 0984020081. Be sure to tell him Jemma & John sent you! We’ve even muted the idea of returning to do a longer trip, from Saigon up to Hoi An. One day maybe.
That evening was a quiet one, I had work to do and we were both pretty tired to wander around the town so just chilled out in the hotel room, ready for another bus ride in the morning, this time to the beach resort of Nha Trang (only for an afternoon) before yet another night bus up to Hoi An.