Today we were to be moving on yet again, this time to Dalat one of the inland places in Vietnam. We had no real idea what this new destination would be like as it had not been included in my original plans but our backpacks were packed and we just had a short walk to the shop where we would be collected and then taken to the bus station. This seemed easy enough until on our short walk we were accosted by a young fella asking about our travels etc. He carried on with us until we had almost reached the shop and then lo and behold I was hit with the sucker punch, he told me he did not have enough money to eat and I actually caved in and gave him some loose change. This is not normally something I do on principle and following close after my book purchase of last night I must start thinking before I put my hand into my pocket.
Anyhow after this short indiscretion we were soon enough on our coach and heading away from the coast through the hills towards Dalat. The drive in some places was almost straight up but it was very picturesque. To be fair the countryside along the way reminded us a bit of home, well Scotland really, especially as we neared Dalat as their were lot of Pine trees and all that type of green ‘stuff’. Once we reached Dalat though you could see a lot of huge greenhouses all growing various produce and lots of Vietnamese ladies were selling their wares by the roadside.
Not really sure what we were expecting from Dalat but it was not the quaint village we had pictured in our minds – thank you very much Lonely Planet – it was quite a decent sized town with a lot of traffic about the place. Unlike the places we had been thus far it was a bit of a cooler climate and quite fertile so it has a lot of green areas and a big lake as well which we saw as we were dropped off. Getting to our accommodation was a bit of an uphill climb so we did this by taxi and when we arrived there we were greeted by a most effusive young Vietnamese lady called Phuong. She gave us both a big hug and made us a cup of tea and fed us homemade peanut butter on some bread whilst introducing us to James from England who had arrived just before us. Phuong is quite amazing a pint-sized bundle of energy but also a very nice person too. A mother and daughter rolled up to the hotel just after us – Sue and Lucy from Oz – and we all had a bit of a chat round the kitchen table before going off and getting settled in our rooms.
Once that was done me and Liz were back out and straight back into town. The lake which had seemed so big when we came into town had now disappeared when we tried to find it so we had to ask directions. Once we found it though we started on completing a circuit. It was all very nice, a few older men were fishing. As we went along towards the far end we were between the lake and local golf club too and golfers there dress in much the same silly attire as they do back home. At the lake’s far end though there was a flower park/show which we decided to have a look around as it was quite cheap. Inside a lot of the ladies there were dressed up to the nines so it must have been a special occasion or maybe they just like to be well turned out when they have their photos taken by the flowers! The blooms were great and very colourful and so were the ladies really so it was all a very Technicolour affair.
On the way back on the other side of the lake there was a cleared paved area where the locals were out in force flying kites and they were good. Now there were a lot of characters out there flying their thang as only they know how but the best two we watched were. one who exuded style and one who showed great persistence or perhaps patience. A man who was actually flying a kite whilst laying down on the floor won our first prize and a very young boy being taught to fly a small kite by his sister who was a star. The sister was time and time again going through the complexities of kite flying and the very young fella who was doing his best, despite her teachings, to inspect her rollerblades.
After watching enthralled for a good while we left the fliers to it and arrived back at our digs where Phuong it seems had had an idea. It turned out that ourselves along with other present residents of the hotel were all going to the local market to buy the foodstuffs we would be needing for the night’s BBQ, which was quite a cool idea really. The visit to the market was a great laugh in itself. I ended up haggling with a Vietnamese lady over the price of her Coriander and though neither of us knew what the other was going on about we had a good laugh and by the end of it I had been well and truly scalped! Food bought and back to the digs we went taking all our goodies. As well as the two Aussies and James from earlier we were introduced to our fellow foragers. These turned out to be another James (an American) travelling with Leo and Scott (two Canadians). We all chipped in with preparing and making stuff and the end result was excellent. Leo turned out to be a bit of a chef in waiting and Lucy cooked some squid – on the barbie – which turned out to be delicious too.
After the BBQ – and a few beers – we all went into town for a few more beers. Me, Liz and Sue ended up dancing to some live music in a bar which was brilliant. The band played lots of covers that we knew and could sing our hearts out to. We ended up pogoing with Sue who seemed to be loving it and at a later stage in our moves I purloined a natty looking hat for a photo opportunity. It was all very much alcohol induced and yet all the better for it.