Yet another night bus, this one included a nice little layover in Nha Trang, waiting for our transfer bus from 4am-7am. We arrived at our hostel in Da Lat around noon in less than chirper moods. Tired and hungry, we decided to just power through and start checking things off the list.
First stop, cable cars. Not being familiar with the terrain of Da Lat yet, we set out on possibly the worst route to get there. The walk was more uphill than not. Exhausted as always when any incline is involved and starving we finally made it. At the top as we stopped to take in the beautiful view of the city, we noticed a sign for a buffet that only cost roughly $2. We didn’t know what the buffet involved but being delirious with hunger and figuring that was a good deal, we were sold.
There was what appeared to be a salad bar consisting of only different types of leafy greens, and no other real direction on what we were supposed to do. Soon after we filled up our plates with piles of greens, a pot of broth was brought over to the hot plate on our table and a basket of uncooked noodles along with a variety of topping and sauces. It was like the Vietnamese Melting Pot. After copious amounts of noodles, acting as if we were carbo-loading for a marathon, we were stuffed and ready to continue on our adventure.
We took a cable car over the mountains and got a beautiful view of the surrounding area. Da Lat is an interesting city, very pretty from afar, but then as you walk through it – not so charming up close. Nothing like my sweet sweet Hoi An.
The cable car took us over to the Truc Lam Zen Monastery. It was such a peaceful and serene setting with a vast beautiful garden covering the landscape. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, one day I would love to live in a little beautiful complex like this – build right into the heart of mother nature with different healing building, mediatiton spots – a sancuatry to rest and reflect’. Add that to the intentions list…
Next we walked to a near by waterfall, Datanla. There was this hilarious little roller coaster that you could ride down to the waterfall. This thing definitely didn’t have to pass any safety regulations. You could control the speed as you whipped around the twist and turns. It was a lot of fun, minus when I was forced to slow down due to the the people in front of me that insisted on going a reasonable safe speed… I do love waterfalls though. I love standing beneath them, letting the mist shower my face as I breath in their magnificence and power.
Pretty beat, we started to walk home in hopes that a taxi would come along. Well that never happened, so we walked all the way back to the hostel. Rule of thumb: When you don’t want a taxi you will be harassed every other step by a taxi/motorbike driver; but when you desperately want one, there will be none in sight. I’ve learned to just accept that as a fact of SEA life.
Our second day in Dalat was spent marveling at some wildly creative and mesmerizing architecture. First stop was Hang Nga Guesthouse aka the “Crazy House”. It was indeed crazy. It was an enchanting combination of Dr. Seuss meets Harry Potter. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I saw one picture of this place beforehand and thought, ‘Oh that might be cool’. It thoroughly exceeded my expectations.
It was like a magical treehouse maze, with tiny twisting and winding staircases going every which way and corridors leading to madness around every bend. The very talented architect, Dang Viet Nga, said she was inspired by the natural environment surrounding Dalat, desiring to connect people to nature. She also pulled inspiration from the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. If you’ve been to Barcelona, you know who I’m talking about. I definitely became very kid-like exploring this place with wonder and amazement.
Afterwards we wandered around the city a little, stopped for a late lunch, hit up the night market and killed time until another crazy architectural masterpiece opened. 100 Roofs Cafe was this insane maze-like bar/rooftop garden that was a labyrinth of rooms, narrow hallways, tunnels, spiral staircases and more madness. With a very similar vibe and design as the Crazy House, that day was starting to feel like one big trippy dream, and I was loving it. We had a blast exploring and enjoying a few cold ones. It was very hard to capture pictures of this place, but just take my word for it – it was pretty sweet.