Walk around Dalat
19th June 2011
Our last day in Dalat. The bus would pick us up from our hotel between 1:00 & 1:30pm, we had the morning to ourselves. We had our tourist map, and a whole heap of squiggles on it we hadn’t seen. With this as our guide, we headed off up the hill. At the top there was supposed to be some special building. We found a government gated community. Didn’t go in and have a look, but the streets were wide, duel lane, with a grassy/treey divider and beautiful houses all along it. There was also a very big fence, and a very fierce guard. Thinking that this isn’t much of a tourist attraction unless you are in the upper echelons of the communist party here, we thought it wasn’t the right place, and went back to take a right instead of a left. Along that street we found the university. That was more likely a tourist attraction. Although at the time, we didn’t know it was the university. It was just a nice building on top of the hill. With grass around it, and a low fence at the road. We followed the golf course back around and down, until we found the entrance to the uni, and as we weren’t students, decided to follow the golf course back to the main lake in the centre of the city. At the bottom there was a flower “playground” I don’t know the word, but a big park, huge entrance arches and a lot of tour buses. Good enough for us. So we skipped it.
A nice stroll to the end of the lake, and the outer suburbs (the towns aren’t that big in the built up area, but the ends go on forever) There was a big grey circle with another circular building on it up some road on the map. We headed for this. As we had already walked for an age, we took it slowly up the hill. And up. And up. It was a steep hill with no sidewalks, cement trucks, and all sorts of delivery trucks going up and down constantly. However, I think we were the first white people in history to walk it. After a fair hike and thinking of turning back numerous times, we came to a big grey circle with a big grey circular building on it. Looked like it did on the map. Again, heavily fenced off with razor wire and massive gates. It looked military. So being a weekend, and none to ask, except for the guard, we turned around and walked all the way back down the hill again. Kinda pointless….
As we were at the far end of the lake we turned around and walked up the other side. We had seen something through the buildings and went off to find it. Turned out to be a temple. It was quite nice, yellow/gold and only slightly garish. From there we went to find the cathedral on the map. This wasn’t too hard as it was quite close. We think it was a cathedral, but it could have been a warehouse, and the building in front in the same complex was definitely government. You can tell by the big red flag with a yellow star on it. The guards are also a bit of a giveaway.
It was an easy trip from there to the railway station, but we managed to stuff it up and forget about that. Especially when you come across a building like the one we are calling the monastery. It looked like a huge old medieval monastery. Hence the name. It looked unused, with broken windows, but there is nothing here unused, so there were still bikes, washing, and kitchen utensils needing cleaning outside in places.
Back to the hotel, as we needed to make the bus. Along the far side of the lake, through not much of anything. Just the usual houses with shops on the ground floor, fighting the bikes for space on the road, as there are no sidewalks in Vietnam. As we got back to the city side of the lake we went up to look at the fake Eifel Tower. Not nearly as impressive in daylight up close. But there was a huge wine bottle cone pyramid thingy.
Through the park, under the lake wall and across to the slums at the base of the hill/city. The slums in Dalat have the best position next to the park, but it gets more expensive as you move up the hill and get better views. Back around the last bit of the lake to the hill our hotel was on and up. Back in plenty of time. It was only about 12:45 That included a fantastic lunch just down from our hotel. However the bus was already there waiting for us, with a few bored passengers and the driver drinking tea at the shop next door.
Onto the Bus. A direct trip to Na Trang, then onto Hoi An.
The trip itself was uneventful, winding down the hills towards the ocean. There must have been a few storms in the region, as sections of the road were covered in debris, and other bits even washed away.
Plenty of waterfalls cascading down the steep hillsides or cliffs, and at one point a beautiful view of the flatlands opening up under us, with the patty fields a small patchwork quilt bathed in light, with the dark dank rainforest surrounding the hills around us.