We checked out and left our luggage at the hotel but thought we would try breakfast elsewhere for some variation. An hour or so later we settled for a Cafe at their central lake – being picky combined with our navigational skills extended the search considerable. We treated ourselves with mixed fruit and yogurts (served in glass but still) which was excellent. There was a slight understanding about fried noodles with eggs though, leading to an untouched dish. It was nice weather, sunny but a nice breeze so we thought it would be a good idea to lay down in the grass and just slack.
After a bit of blogging, a bit of Civilization and some reading for Mona we started to stroll back towards our hotel. After a block we understood that the breeze had been very local around the lake and it was scorching hot. Well we had put on some sunblock, so we would be good.
I decided it was time to settle the score with my long overdue haircut and got one approved by the socialist party for the bargain of 2.5 USD. We had lunch at a place called Chocolate, which was nice but nothing to kill for. A little bit of slacking with wifi at our hotel before we were offered a free ride to the airport shuttle station. Luckily Mona found the way better than the driver, also known as the husband of the more business oriented lady. He looked like a man who expected a rather nasty scolding from his love when he realized he may fail to drop us off in time. It all worked out and the taxi shuttle didn’t even leave until 15 minutes later than we’d read so no worries. We checked in and went through security in less than two minutes and took the opportunity to borrow some electricity to charge our iToys until boarding, which reminded me of back in the days when Ulf and I relied on laptop batteries while touring Japan.
The Taxi to our hotel, Sophia Hotel, which costed 6 USD including a little tip to district 1 using the meter, the cab driver wasn’t thrilled but I almost expected more of a rip-off. A bit tired after all the slacking we spend the last hour Watching bad Kung-Fu and Harry Potter before falling asleep in our rather nice room.
As we woke up we realized we were already late for some starting-early tours but we had decided that we wouldn’t go with the suggested 180 USD tour regardless. We instead popped over to the place next doors which had some drivers offering tours, some version of Easy Rider, original or not was hard to tell. We spoke with an older guy, Truöng, who sketched up a pretty nice day tour for the price of 20USD each. He said he could of course take us to Lak Lake but it would be more or less 5-6 hours straight drive so we decided we would settle for the suggested tour which included a Silk centre. We quickly prepared our bags and had a record fast breakfast before hitting the road on proper motorcycles, with working speed meters this time.
We stopped at a flower plantation and had a look, the guides (and drivers), Truöng and Tam, were very knowledgable as well as almost fluent in English which was great. Next stop was a minority village, Koha, and this was a real surprise. I expected begging children and a stream of tourists but we were the only tourists there, we learned about their culture, chatted with some of the children and it felt really genuine. The guide picked out a puppy he would collect for his kids later, normally they feed the puppies for one month and then they are either sold or eaten. We said our goodbyes and headed towards Elephant Falls which was the most impressive waterfall so far. There was also a pagoda and a huge Buddha which we of course photographed.
We then headed to off for lunch at some local place where we also were offered some strong foul liquor they kept dead animals in – great for a range of reason they assured us. We drank it fast and smiled. Next up was the silk centre, this was really interesting and I am sure my mom could have spent days in there looking at their weaving equipment. I really liked the mechanical/computer hybrid weaver with cards with punched holes for the cloth design.
The good thing with private guides was that we could spend a considerable time here (Mona also just happened to spot a lovely Silk Kimono) and getting detailed explanations while we for instance at the next stop (basket weaving) only spent a few minutes. There was more foul spirits to be drank though, we stopped at a rice wine distillery – and by wine they mean strong moonshine made in equipment that would impress most people familiar with the process. It burned well and fine, but I smiled while drinking it. Now we were heading back, just stopping by the road at a place with nice overview of the lands. The skies started to darken now and we just made it back before the first raindrops.
Mona went to get a haircut while yours truly would take a shower, as I got out I realized it was pouring down so I thought I would bring Mona’s waterproof jacket but met her in the stairs, wet like a mermaid. After changing clothes we went out for dinner and thought we would try to find some Gyoza this time. After a considerable number of queries to locals we found the restaurant Ichi we had been looking for. They were, of course, out of Gyoza. We skipped the Shochu and I had a nice rainbow roll, Mona’s teriyaki was not properly done so she had to wait for them to make new ones. Japanese is always nice but this wasn’t really worth returning to. After a long and really great day we headed back to our hotel.
After a good night’s sleep we tried the breakfast at our hotel, Les Sapins 60, which wasn’t bad at all. We had only done limited research about Dalat but decided we would scout the nearby areas by motorcycle today and wait with any longer tours. We rented a motorcycle for 5 USD, manual gears since it was half the price of an automatic and as Mona put it – How hard can it be? With yours truly responsible for reading the map and navigational issues in general and Mona head of traffic security we headed off. After a small incident which had no casualties or material damages Mona also learned how to brake. For a moment an old memory when I tried my brothers mini-motorcycle flashed before my eyes but this time things didn’t collide.
First stop was Hang Nga Crazy House. This is the creation of a (in)famous architect, and the best way to describe it would be Gaudi designing a Smurf village and tossing in some scenes from Alice in Wonderland. One of the architects prior creations, House with 100 roofs, had in the past been torn down for being considered non-socialist. I suspect some pretty good drugs were involved in the creative process and the government really didn’t want the loyal farmers to get any ideas. We thought it would be pretty cool to stay here, but as more tourists kept coming we passed on the idea – they do offer rooms but any resemblance of privacy is not included in the price.
We got out of Dalat and headed south on Highway 20, which isn’t the best description of the road to be honest. After a little while of scenic driving we arrived at Dantala Falls. We took the roller coaster down to the waterfall which was quite fun. We went further on, riding some cabin to get to yet another waterfall but this wasn’t really worth the time (and of course extra money). After that we continued south until we got to Prenn Pass, another waterfall turned into a theme park. We had lunch and bumped into some travelers from our hotel who was kind to lend us some sunblock. We considered going further south to Chicken Village (named so after their huge concrete chicken in the middle of the village) but decided we would head back to Dalat for some slacking and research instead.
Going to the supermarket for sunblock was quite painful as they insisted on playing an awful techno/sleazy version of Happy Birthday to you on single repeat. After dinner we talked with one of the staff about potential trips. We realized this was most likely the same lady who offered a way to expensive taxi. Starting at 250 USD for a tour to Lak lake and back (including a 4X4 Car but still) she dropped to 180 but we said we would consider this overnight.