My kind of place; Dalat, Vietnam

Beautiful buildings and friendly people in the mountains

Mountainous town of Dalat

We arrived in Dalat too late for the group dinner at Dalat Familythe hostel we had booked for our stay. I was pretty annoyed and what made matters worse is that they had double booked us so we were forced to stay at a guesthouse on the otherside of town. Pissed off, I learnt to find that I had left my cash card in the ATM AGAIN leaving me penniless. Thank god for my friends and their kind donations of cash.

A man carrying his shop at the night market

Lisa and I headed into town that evening to grab a quick bite to eat. We ended up spending hours sampling all sorts of weird and wonderful treats at the night market including sweet potato cakes and savoury pancakes. It was here we came across this strange looking machine which appeared to produce a photo of our face in the middle of a dollar bill. Even though we had already spent a fair bob on food we couldn’t resist a go. It was hilarious.

The strangest machine ever

The machine not only took our photo but measured our height and weight too. We had great fun playing around on it and met an old Vietnamese man who kindly posed in our photos and wrote a message in Vietnamese to each of us on the back. I gave him one of our photos and wrote him a message in English and we exchanged email addresses. He was so sweet.

Exchanging messages with locals

The next morning myself, Lisa, Aimee, Nicola and Kevin went for breakfast at Dalat Train Villa Cafe after walking in the sun for nearly an hour when the map said it was only a kilometre a way. We settled for cornflakes with banana which would have been so overpriced if it wasn’t for the fantastic setting we were in. Number one on Trip Advisor, the cafe is situated in an old fashioned train carriage although we sat outside over looking the beautifully colourful buildings in the French colonial town of Dalat.

Breakfast at train cafe – beautiful setting

The day was spent wandering around the city visiting popular tourist attractions. After missing the cable car in Nha Trang we thought it was only right we catch the one to Tuyen Lam Lake in Dalat. The lake was beautiful and even though we could hear loud thunder in the mountains, the rain (my first taste of rain in months!) gave it a mysterious feel and didn’t last for long.

Tuyen Lam Lake

On the walk to Crazy House I stumbled across a side street selling all sorts of food. The street food is fantastic in Vietnam and each place has different specialities only found in that region, so to my delight there is always something new to try. I tried pancakes made from rice sheets, a bag of shredded rice sheets with sauce and a sweet pork bun.

Weird and wonderful street food

Crazy House is a large house designed by eccentric half Vietnamese architect called Đặng Việt Nga. Although she still lives in part of the house it is unfinished due to lack of money – in true Grand Design style – so it has now been opened to the public in what I presume is a bid to raise some much needed funds. You can also stay in one of the ten rooms in the house although I don’t fancy people peering into my hotel room when I’m getting changed!

Crazy House in Dalat

We returned to the night market that evening for some more local food and headed back for an early night as the others were due to go caving early the next morning. I decided against caving as I get cold very easily, especially in water (I was wrapped up in sarongs at the water park in Nha Trang!) and it is a little chilly up in the mountains, well for me anyway! I took the chance to spend some time with Lisa who also opted out. We spent the day walking around town admiring the attractive French architecture.

Horses in the flower park

We stopped at the flower park by the lake for our twice-daily Vietnamese coffee which is like rocket fuel and a million times stronger than coffee elsewhere. It was here we met our second friend from Dalat, he was an eccentric 24 year old singer. He instantly took a liking to Lisa and her ginger hair and taught us a few basic Vietnamese words and sayings by acting out examples with one including kissing Lisa on the cheek and saying “sorry”. I can now say “hello”, “sorry”, “thank you”, “please” and “how much”. The locals really appreciate it when I try out my newly learnt language but unfortunately I still get charged western prices for certain items!

Dalat Lake

Dalat was the first place we had seen lots of avocados and strawberries on sale so we stocked up on a box of strawberries and each got a fresh baguette and filled it with an avacado, tomato and laughing cow cheese. It was my perfect picnic but cost the same as six Banh Mi’s. 

Dalat railway station

It was a bit of a rush getting back in time me for our night bus to Hoi An which was due to depart at 4pm. So much so that I left my pillow at the travel agents. I used the pillow for everything not just for sleeping and I really wish I had got a taxi back to get it, I didn’t think I’d miss it this much. Onwards and upwards, it was time to head to Hoi An...

Living life, loving cake,

H x


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