Tuesday, 15 September 2015

14th-15th September - Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat - flowers - crickets - silk - coffee - Elephant Falls - Crazy House

Monday 14th September 2015

This morning we left our comfy nest in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and flew off (VERY cheaply!) to Dalat. 

Ho Chi Minh City photo time!
It is quite different here, in the highland farming area.  MUCH cooler!  We have gone from 37 degrees to about 19…and it is raining.  Not monsoonal downpour, but Tasmanian-style drizzle. 

So we have gone from being expats to being tourists.

Nifty panorama shot of the view from 4th floor, River Prince hotel
Our hotel is the River Prince, grandly named for a non-existent river.  There is, however, a large lake.

And we should really have been staying at this hotel, further up the hill.

This a very big city!  Who knew??  (206,000)

We spent a bit of time watching, with fascination, as two young blokes loaded TWO large mirrors onto the back of a motorbike

And off they went, on the slippery wet road…

We are here for two nights, then off again on the tourist trail.

Yesterday we wandered around Ho Chi Minh City being tourists instead of expats.  I am fascinated by the Communist iconography all over the city.

Ho Chi Minh coming and going!

and I was mightily impressed with these four people comfortably managing to ride one small moped…

Dad plus his three daughters
When we go back I want to spend time in this book shop, where I might buy something to read intellectually…

Tuesday 15th September

Today we had a great Dalat Day.  We joined a party of backpackers in a small bus and saw the sights of the countryside, with a delightful guide, Tiep.

Pete and Tiep
The backpackers were great and regaled us with tales of their travels and of the hostels they have stayed in…Some of the hostels sound ghastly…slippery nylon sheets, mattresses stuffed with straw, two toilets to be shared by 30-40 guests…I am very grateful for this s spacious room, at the River Prince, even though the bed is as hard as a billiard table…

First stop – a flower farm.  Many gerberas, very pretty.

Yes I know it is only a gerbera…but what so photogenic!
Next – a Koho village.  The Koho are the indigenous people of the region, amongst the poorest in Vietnam.  They grow rice and coffee but only have one harvest a year.  They also get money for letting vanloads of tourists come and peer into their one-room houses…

I felt very uncomfortable about this but Tiep, a Koho girl herself, told us it was all fine, and that this particular woman loves to have the odd lot of backpackers traipsing in and out of her house, to hear her sing.  She sang a traditional Koho song and also…Joy to the World, and Jesus Loves Me

Coffee was next on the agenda (thank God…)

We had a cup of weasel coffee and looked out at the view and life was good.

Not so sure about the cricket farm…Tiep had a very engaging manner and she assured us that deep fried crickets are very delicious and very nutritious.

We saw them being hatched and matched.  It takes about three months for them to become an edible size.

teensyweensy crickets
Yes I did eat one!  But only one…It didn’t taste particularly awful but it did get VERY stuck between two of my back teeth and I very much did not enjoy trying to excavate it with a toothpick.  Creepy!

Intent on the process
Our friends for the day all got out their cameras to snap away at the snackplate…their expressions are very telling.

I hadn’t ever seen the process of making silk.  Yes I have seen the product!

But Tiep took us to a little workshop where the cocoons are put through their paces to produce beautiful skeins of shiny fine silk.


There is always a temple, on a tour…

This one had a very large very happy Buddha.

And some fabulous dragons!

We didn’t really bring the right clothes to Dalat.  It is very hot in Vietnam.  37 most days in Saigon.  But up here it is 15-25 degrees, quite different.  I have two dresses with me, one long, one short, both very lightweight.  And one pair of fittflops (thongs).  Pete had his long white cotton trousers tucked away in his pack, but no proper walking shoes.  So we were NOT properly dressed for a walk down a steep and slippery path to the Elephant Falls.

But it was a fabulous walk, and the falls were wonderful.  Huge, thundering down into a big brown swirl of fast-flowing river.

I went down into a series of caves from where you could seen the waterfall overhead.  (Not a good place for my camera…it stayed tucked into my bag.)

Then I went down to the bottom of the falls, with some of my tourfriends.  Pete decided not to get covered with mud so he just walked elegantly to the top of the falls, took some videofilm, and sauntered back to the bus.  Without getting a single splash of mud on his white white clothes!!

My Irish, English, Dutch and Australian friends and I, on the other hand, were liberally splattered with mud and we all had gritty bottoms from sliding down the rocks.

But…we were fine.  Only dirty.  One of us, however, was not fine at all…Right at the water’s edge we came across a sad and sorry sight – one of our team had fallen and had bashed his head badly on the rocks.  My first thought was…PETE!  His thongs are VERY slippery and I wasn’t sure which path he had taken.  But no; Pete, still pristine in his whites, was fine.  It was one of our young Australian blokes who had leapt cheerily from one rock to the other and then had slipped and fallen into the water.  Thank God he didn’t get washed away…But he did have to stop his tour and go off to the hospital, with his lovely girlfriend and two others from the group, one of whom, we all thought, might have been a doctor.

We had our lunch in a more chastened mood…

So the Crazy House was probably just what we needed.  It was designed by Dang Viet Ng, the daughter of the third president of Vietnam, who studied architecture in Russia, and it is a work in progress.  (She still lives there, somewhere hidden away.)

 Gaudi-inspired, nature-inspired, Russian-inspired, it is a crazy maze of winding staircases, strange little rooms, bridges across from one level to the other.  Lots of fun!  It was all a bit disconcerting, really, but very interesting.

Last stop – the oldest railway station in Vietnam, built by the French, not so very long ago…

Tomorrow we are leaving, but we really have enjoyed our Dalat Days.

No comments:

Post a Comment