This is getting silly
21.04.2008 - 23.04.2008
Unless you've traveled in Vietnam, you've probably never heard of Dalat. Dalat is a city in the hills of South Vietnam. Thanks to the French, Dalat earned its reputation as a vacation destination due to its colder, mountain climates. Seems like a fair assessment to us; Dalat was the first place where we actually wore long sleeves in SE Asia. Putting on long sleeves was very sad for Ren. Fortunately, we still wore shorts. No long pants---not during a summer vacation. We're not crazy.
How to get to Dalat? Of course, our favorite Sinh Cafe bus once again. Sinh Cafe (in the South of Vietnam) has disproved Ren's theory about buses—specifically, that buses suck for travel. We took an early morning, 7 hr bus ride from Ho Chi Minh to Dalat. It was clean. Actually pleasant. We had no problems. Before our vacation began, we would have guessed that we'd never, ever consider such a long bus ride. But now with bus rides in Cambodia and Thailand behind us, we know its no problem. Not even for Patty's back.
So you're in Dalat. What do you do? Little. This is a place to vacation from your vacation. We ate. We drank (wine actually – Dalat is where Vietnamese wine is made. Of course, the wine was plain bad).
We tandem biked. And we toured just a bit. We visited the post office. And, the post office cafe. Maybe the biggest accomplishment in Dalat was Ren purchasing a black ink pen for his diary. Blue was getting tiring.
Hightlights? Well, there was at least one. One that might rival every other highlight in the trip. One that, unless we saw it and did it ourselves, we might not actually believe it possible.
We were told “ostrich rides” and we didn't actually understand what was meant. Actually sitting on an ostrich and riding? Was that even physically possible? Well, it took two men (maybe boys-- they probably weighed-in at a buck thirty) to hold down the unruly ostrich and push it towards the loading stairs. “Jump on” they said to Ren, as the ostrich struggled to get free. Ren obeyed, jumped and held on for dear life. The ostrich somehow escaped from the guys and off it went -- Ren bucking on its back as it ran down a path in the park. Eventually, the boys caught the unyieldy beast (and the ostrich as well) and shortly after the ride was over. For sure, this is inhumane for the ostrich. And Ren is likely wanted for contributing to ostrich delinquency. But you know... it was a hoot. Probably the silliest thing during the entire trip.
Another memory, especially for Patty, is the high tea at the Sofitel hotel (this is not where we stayed). The hotel is quite grand in a traditional way—even among other the Sofitels it seams to stand out. There we enjoyed a Vietnamese take on the British high tea. Not quite scones and clotted cream but instead pancakes and waffles!! Tea—of course—or super sweet vietnamese coffee.
Our hotel in Dalat kicked some serious ass. This might rival Alum Shanti for our favorite hotel—though for entirely different reasons. The Ngoc Lan (a 4 star hotel) was a truly modern, comfortable hotel with great amenities, lots of style... and well, it's not what most folks would want for their vacation in Vietnam but it was exactly what we wanted. Btw., if you're visiting Dalat, it's worth shopping around for hotel rooms. Some hotels we saw in a narrow price band were putrid while Ngoc Lan and another hotel just a bit more expensive, the Blue Moon, were perfect examples of affordable luxury.