Before I get onto Da Lat I must talk about the Mekong delta. I took a trip there from Ho Chi Minh, knowing absolutely zero about the place. The Mekong Delta is massive and you could easily spend days exploring your surroundings. However I only had one day and a lot of miles to cover so we were ushered onto wooden long boats and set off down the river. The surrounding landscape is beautiful and all you can see are green fields and sleepy villages, each of which are crisscrossed with canals that are a constant hub of activity.
All the locals either live on the river or alongside the river in stilted houses and work all day on the water. Every boat carries some type of produce that they wish to sell on; ranging from every type of fruit and vegetable, tons of rice and I even saw some live piggies looking way too happy than they should of been
The Delta is seen as ‘Vietnam’s rice bowl’ and is an agricultural miracle that pumps out more than a third of the country’s annual food crop. It is a constant hive of activity throughout the day, yet apparently most of the selling is done in the mornings during the large floating market.
I got to try some local honey tea, coconut sweets and crisp bread all of which was produced and sold along the river.. It was all delish!
It’s a pretty long journey from HCMC to Mekong Delta, about 3 hours each way. Because of that I would recommend any future visitors to do a two day trip that includes a homestay on the river. This sounded amazing and allows you to see the large floating market in full swing in the early morning and spend time with local people.
The following day Fran and I had a coach booked to take us to Da Lat city way up in the hills of Vietnam about 8 hours outside of the capital.
The coach journey was its own adventure that first started with the style of coach of that pulled up to the station. A strange looking ‘sleeper’ coach that is lined with bunk bed type seats that recline and allow for a seriously comfy ride. That is however if you are the size of the Vietnamese! All western people are not and therefore it’s a serious squeeze into the seats especially for an English couple we got talking to, the guy being 6ft It was comical but so much nicer than any of the regular coaches we had previously travelled on.
So everything was fine, we squeezed into the seats got ourselves comfortable and we were well on our way.. It was then that we heard a serious bang on the side of the bus! One whole pain of glass had shattered at the impact of a large rock being thrown at the side of the bus. We were so confused as the majority of the bus got off stared at the window, laughed and then returned to the bus. I’ve learnt that the Vietnamese, actually all of South East Asia have no sense of health and safety and to deal with this situation they literally drew the curtains (out of sight out of mind) and put masking tape on the outside – job done and we were back our way.
BANG!!.. Crash number 2.. What the hell was it this time? It wasn’t until I saw a dust cloud fly through the drivers window that I noticed a possessed man outside, rock in hand, attacking our coach, but specifically the driver!! What the hell was happening. Locals on the bus were speaking loudly in Vietnamese, crowds were gathering outside the coach and absolutely no one was doing anything about it! I felt as if we were carrying a member of the mafia and were being attacked until we realised him. Were we being filmed for Punk’d??
We knew this was serious business when rock guy put his motorbike with an actual baby child on board in front of our coach so we couldn’t drive away. What kind of sick joke was this, I literally thought we were about to be overtaken??
No such thing, the driver skilfully manoeuvred around the bike and put his foot down until we were out of harms way.. Obviously not that easy and rock guy actually chased us on his bike down the road and lobbed another rock at the coach! What did we have on board that he was so desperate to get at – to this day we will never know! I’m sure that coach had never seen that MPH it reached after that second rock but we escaped to safety and continued on our journey.
All I kept thinking was that things happen in threes but SURELY nothing else could go wrong! Thankfully I was right and the worst thing that happened was the heavens opened and we drove the last hour in torrential rain. That I can deal with!!
Anyway we made it safe and sound to Da Lat and jumped into a free shuttle bus to our hostel/hotel Tulip Xanh.
We booked ourselves onto a motorbike tour called Easy Riders for the following day. It’s recommended in every guide book and after doing it I can’t rave about it enough. It was the most enjoyable day I’ve had so far!!
We were met at 8:30am by 4 men on some serious looking bikes (2 other girls booked the tour from our hotel) we were given our helmets and jumped on the back of our bikes for the ride of our lives!!
There is no better way to tour Da Lats country side than this. We visited a beautiful place called Elephant Waterfalls, the biggest waterfall I have ever seen! We headed down to the bottom which is surrounded by thick jungle, I felt like Lara Croft climbing over rocks and swinging off trees! Once we made it through the jungle we were able to go behind the waterfall which is an experience I will never be able to forget!! What an immense feeling it was, we got completely drenched and couldn’t even speak to each other because of the power of the water! Incredible!
We got to visit and watch the workings of a silk factory which was seriously interesting (now I know I’m getting old), we went to the massive greenhouses that are dotted throughout the surrounding landscape of Da Lat, saw thousand of strawberry, coffee and vegetable gardens that go on as far as the eye can see, making the scenery absolutely beautiful!
We also went on a road that the Easy Riders call the bumpy road. That is the understatement of the century! We wouldn’t have a road this treacherous in England but if we did there would be no way in hell it would be open for use! It was bumpy yes, but it was a building site way up in the mountains where they are blowing up the granite out of the muddy clay to use for building blocks. I also forgot to mention it’s currently the rainy season here so all that mud has become, well you can image. To me it looked like an impossible to task, to the easy riders it was a normal obstacle. I was so impressed we didn’t fall off,it took some serious talent.
This story actually takes me back to the health and safety issue again as at one point when passing through this enormous building site we had to wait behind a piece of red and white tape while a big old JCB ripped apart massive pieces of granite and threw them down the cliff towards the waiting traffic – a pretty impressive sight to see!!
This trip took us to all the tourist hotspots in Da Lat as well as soo much more! I can’t recommend it any more!!
Credit to Fran for all these wonderful pictures…
On our way home we suited up in full water proof gear, I think the guys new something we didn’t. Before we new it the sky’s turned black and the heavens open. A serious tropical storm hit and the rain fell harder than I’ve ever witnessed! You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, how those guys were driving I will never know. At one point we got off the bikes so we could see a man made dam, the rain was so heavy it was bouncing up off the road, whipping off the water that surrounded us we couldn’t hear each other speak. This weather was insaaaaaane!! However it was seriously hilarious though as we stood there in water proof trousers 10 sizes too big, a rain back that went down to my knees and my sun glasses on so the rain wouldn’t rip my eyes out. Okay dramatic – but it felt as if the rain was tearing our faces apart – rain does hurt and that saying in my title is a complete lie!!
Da Lat is 1500 meters above see level and never gets any warmer than 25 degrees. It’s seriously cold here right now, being the rainy season and all! No one told us – cheers fellow travellers! The fleeces have made appearances, the mac is out in force and socks are a must. Fran and I feel as if were back in England!
Our last full day here was spent exploring the city, we walked through torrential rain all day but found some cool coffee shops and a beautiful lake.
Tomorrow we move on to Nha Trang which is by the coast and is famous for beautiful beaches. Get us to the warm again.. The fresh air was a welcome break but enough of that now, after all I mustn’t let the tan fade.