Saturday, May 2, 2009

South Vietnam - Da Lat

The surprisingly comfy night bus took me to Nha Trang - mainly known for it large beach. I rolled into town early and as usual observed the locals doing their morning work out at 6 am along the board walk, playing badminton, walking, stretching and dancing (Aerobics are still pretty big over here :) Its also worth mentioning that I have not seen over-weight Vietnamese. I am sure its partially genes, but these guys really try to stay fit ...

Breakfast along on the beach - Jasmine tea and Banana pancakes with chocolate syrup - I was in heaven ...
After a stroll through town, quick break in our AC hotel room (with some great conversations) we once again made it to the beach - still very nice, but the fairly large city was right behind you (which must be amazing for the citizen here).
Nah Trang also caters to the party-hungry tourist, with extremely cheap drinks (buckets for 35,000 VD = $2)... and since Marie and I were supposed to split up the next day, we had to celebrate our good times ... my favorite part must have been the refrigerated Kit Kat we had on the beach that night : )

Early the next morning I took off to Da Lat ... and at 6 am Marie decided that she would try to do the same :) The drive to Da Lat is gorgeous - the winding roads through the Vietnamese mountains, filled with lush forests - even more exiting when the rain storm hits (you guys might already know that I am a sucker for rain ... )However, I do have to mention that I was not feeling my best ... than again I didn't stay 100% sober the night before ... we stayed at a lovely hotel -the Peace Hotel - in the middle of the city. I had heard many good things about Da Lat, but somehow expected a small, romantic town in the mountains ... not the very busy city, filled with honking cars and thousand of motorbikes we actually encountered...

The central market is a great place to buy ... anything :) Also a great opportunity to try some of the many dried fruits and veggies, like tomato, banana, strawberries and blueberries (wait a bit after the tomato ... its quiet strong). I night walk through the still busy city, left us lost and we ended up having (great) dinner at our hotel - sweet and sour veggies with rice. Not sure I have already mentioned my new love affair with pineapple ( which i used to hate and now can not live without), an essential part of a sweet and sour dish over here.

The next day I desperately needed to get out of the city and into the mountains ... and since I still wasn't feel my best, I convinced Marie to pass on the mountain bikes, and just share a motorbike with me (after all I had already taken a passenger with me in Ha Long Bay and nothing happened) The traffic in Da Lat was a bit more crazy, but after getting out of town (20 minutes later) we were fine :)

Passed many mountain villages, trying not to hit the cows, horses, buffalo, chicken, dogs and kids, we had a lunch break on a lake in the mountains, with just a local fisher man (hitting a wooden stick on his boat to attract water snakes) and a water Buffalo hanging out with us.

A large cloud, that had followed us all day, decided to "let it all out" on our way back ... so first we found shelter at a local metal shop. Very nice folks, taking us into their house, getting us warm water and smiles, while watching TV in their living room :) ... when we thought it had died down, we got back on, just to realize that it was far from over ... our next stop was a local restaurant (where we were the only foreigners), and we decided to wait until the locals would get back on the road. The owner was super nice, got us some tea (it had gotten quiet chilly), and ended up buying us rain coats for $0.15 each, so we would be protected a bit. Finally after 2 hours the locals dared to get back on their motorbikes... and so did we. I still don't know how it happened, but somehow I found my way back to the hotel right away (even though the city seemed like such a large mess to me - thank you!). It was need too, since I stared to feel pretty sick ... a potato soup (prepared just so i would feel better by our hostel cook), a fruit shake, 2 liters of water, a fever and lots of sweating later and I felt like new again the next day ... and was ready for our trip to Mui Ne :)

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