Thursday, 14 May 2015

Crazy, cold, colourful, canyony Dalat

Our first stop on our 10-day whizz-tour through Vietnam was Dalat City, about 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City. A pretty, hilly town, with a stunning lake and surroundings, many cute cafés and restaurants, Dalat is a get-away for many Saigonese and an increasing amount of foreign visitors who want to escape the eternal heat of the rest of Vietnam.

What I knew about Dalat: It is cold. In the mountains, it is a substantially cooler town than any of its surroundings. It is also stunning and has a lot of opportunities to do outdoor sports.
Courtesy of Stef
What I learnt about Dalat: Yes, it is cold. Well, cold and cold. Let's say: I was walking around in my cardigan at about 11pm, and I was slightly chilly. I also, to my great shock haha, caught myself thinking, in all sincerity, 'I like Dalat but I don't think I could live here, it's too cold...' 

Also, it rained. Buckets. No. Reservoirs. 

What we did in Dalat: So, we did some of the musts, the main one (at least at our hostel) seeming to be canyoning. Basically a variety of crazy activities you can do whilst gradually making your down a water-filled canyon. We were a group of ten with two friendly and enthusiastic tour guides - “Don't be lazy, be crazy!” was their motto which they frequently reminded us of. (Except when we got back to the bus after the trip, they encouraged us “Don't be crazy, be lazy!”)

The activities included three abseilings, two water slides, one jump and a lot of trekking in the woods/paddling/swimming/climbing. In gorgeous scenery.
Group stream crossing
It's sufficient to say that abseiling down this waterfall was one of the most terrified I've been in my life:

It wasn't actually dangerous – worst that could happen (unless you had exceptionally exceptionally bad luck) was that you slipped and fell into the water which, ultimately, was the aim anyways.

After the first, 'nice' bit, you started your verticaly descent on very, very slippery rocks. Our tour guides reminded us multiple times to, at this point, keep your head down and keep looking at the guide at the bottom of the fall at your right (as I am doing in the pic, note ;)), whose hand gestures (usually motioning “two/three/four steps to the left”) you had to be careful to follow. They taught us what to do if you slipped and went 'in' the fall, but I did not understand that part so hoped very much I wouldn't be slipping. So, I think, I can't say for sure because terrification (yes new word that) is blocking my memory, when I did slip, I sort of happily let myself drop in the water. Somehow a many-metred jump doesn't seem so bad when the alternative is so scary... 

Also, in the pic you can see someone else very, very close to me - I was not aware of this at all during my descent, and I'm quite happy of that - apparently the girl next to me fell nearly straight into me at some point... 

Other than that...

The waterslides were fun, the first abseiling pretty straightforward, and I regret to say (and quickly blame my cold) I skipped the last two – I hate jumping into water from high places, so I didn't even try and force myself to do it. (Lower one was 7m, higher one was 11m and dangerous with a serious risk of, er, unhappiness, since you had to run and jump – if you just jumped you'd crash into the ledge directly underneath the jumping point.)
Not me 
After canyoning we went to explore the Crazy House. Most aptly described as 'Gaudi meets Disneyland', it's a half-built hotel by a daughter of someone important (hence why she was able to get away with building this type of eccentricity), which stars in a number of 'weirdest hotels in the world' -lists. Not that I actually realised people stay here until Hayzybobzykins pointed it out. There's not many rooms available, and in all fairness this 'topsy-turvy piece of work' is probably not the best place to stay as it is essentially a tourist site.
Triple photo bomb pic feat. my first ever take-away HOT coffee (yes twas indeedos that cold!!)
But, SO COOL. Like, one day I will go back and organise a MASSIVE GAME of hide n seek/capture the flag/tag/spying...
Courtesy of Stef
Courtesy of Stef

Courtesy of Stef
Courtesy of Stef
Courtesy of Stef
Courtesy of Stef
Courtesy of Hayzy: Hanging out with some pals
The rest of the time in Dalat we basically spent wandering. Around the lake, sampling foods...
and maybe the best surprise was this huge, packed night market, full of people, but none of them treating you any different just because of your skin colour! It was a holiday day for the Vietnamese, so I think people were more focused on getting these hoards of local holidaymakers buying their stuff than trying to rip off foreign tourists. 
Courtesy of Stef

AND I had a VERY proud moment of Vietnamese Linguistic Advancement (VLA): I asked a lady how much her cute little knitted keyrings were. “Ba cái muoi nghin,” the lady told me happily, not questioning either my pronunciation of “Bao nhieu?” ('How much?' in Vietnamese) or my ability to understand her reply. Which I did understand, after a moment of brainstorming, because it did not sound like any number I knew: “Three (pieces) (for) ten thousand.” The happiness I felt from this miniscule comprehension... :) :) :)

The final morning we had an amazing brekkie, I bought an amazing dress and then it was time to say bye bye. 

Om nom 
I very much enjoyed Dalat, and a significant reason for that was the climate. I loved my first ever take-away hot coffee, as well as multiple hot mugs of tea. Nearly like being back in the UK... Canyoning was awesome, the Crazy House was excellent. If I come back, I will do more exploring in the countryside, like the famous Elephant Falls...

But now, off to Hoi An...



PS. Throughout these posts we will have some pics Courtesy of Stef or Hayzy ie. pics off their cameras. My camera has reached its zimmerframe days and no longer wants to utilise the assistance of a zoom, therefore my picture repertoire is somewhat lacking for this trip... :( 


  1. VLA - hienoa! Se kanjonointi on aika outoa - pitäisi varmaan itse kokea. Hienoa, että lämpimiä juomia oli tarjolla niin kylmässä (!) paikassa. Vaikka kyllähän minä join innolla kuumaa traita Saigonissakin. Joko olet muuten toipunut täysin taudista?

    Luin sun vastauksen edellisessä blogissas. Kyllä ne oppaat on itse asiassa tosi kärsivällisiä, kun aina jaksavat uuden turistiporukan kanssa ja saavat asiat hoitumaan. Äx

  2. Falling down a waterfall... What will you find to do next?!? Sensible decision to skip the run'n'jump at 11 metres...