Photos taken from the moving bus
We had to be at Rainbow Tours round the corner by 10am to catch our bus, so we enjoyed our free breakfast at Bee Saigon (english-style pancakes with chocolate and banana - I'm in heaven) before heading out. At 10am the bus arrived and we loaded up. I had taken the precaution of padlocking every zip and encasing my rucksack in a Pacsafe steel wire cover in deference to all the horror stories of looters hiding in the luggage compartments squirreling into people's bags and stealing their stuff. I needn't have worried however, this was a smart bus with reclining seats, fold-out leg supports, and free bottles of water handed out with a refresher towel. Still, it pays to be cautious.
The scenery leaving the city was much as yesterday.
I hoped to catch glimpses of fantastic palaces or pagodas amongst all the shabby concrete and iron but it was mile upon mile of the same scruffy little spaces with broken pavement, piles of rubble, litter, interjected with scruffy little cafes with people perched at children's plastic tables on plastic footstools. It took well over an hour to reach the city outskirts, at which point the scenery seemed to improve with the addition of trees, grass, and other scruffy little cafes serving food and drinks to lines of tables with each two chairs and a hammock under a shelter, that lined the roads.
Photos taken from the moving bus
About half way through we started to climb into the highlands, and the scenery got more spectacular. I have started reading a recommended book about a Vietnamese-American who cycled from San Francisco to Vietnam to discover his roots, in order to gain a better understanding of the country. Normally reading is an escapism for me, especially when traveling gets a bit challenging, it's nice to have somewhere else to go in my mind, so it was a surprise to look up from my book and be faced with the same backdrop as I was inhabiting in my mind, and more so the scenery I have seen so many times in films and never really supposed I might see in real life. The only sad thing about this scenery is that it is dulled by the ever-cloudy white sky. In Saigon we supposed it was pollution; the smog from the millions of motorcycles was clearly evident. But here we have to hope it is just the lie of the land, or the time of year. I have a vague suspicion however that although the sun is fully felt in its humidity, that it is not often seen....
We arrived in Dalat at around 5pm and was dropped at a hotel we liked the sound of. The lady had no room for us however and asked if we would like to go to her brother's hotel instead? We had no recommendation for this, but she told us it would be $15/night with free breakfast and internet so we agreed. We and our bags were loaded each onto a motorcycle and we were driven the kilometre down to the other hotel where we recieved a warm reception. The manager insisted we see the rooms first to agree, but there could be no doubt that we had lucked out on another hotel.
We had recommendations for a restaurant down the road. Dong Trong, so we set out almost immediatley after our 7 hour bus fast. It was a little more expensive than we would normally have gone for but since it recieved glowing reports from our taxi drivers, the Lonely Planet and the hotel manager we could hardly not go. It was full of white westerners, with white and tartan tableclothes. We had grilled venison with sesame, pork rib ribe and sauted vegetables for about 7 pounds.
We had a little wander into town and fairly well fell in love with the place. Far from the hectic, smelly hustle and bustle of Saigon, this truly had the feel of a pleasant town. People greeted us in the street, in our own language, as people, not as stupid tourists to be taken advantage of, which is the distinct impression we recieved in the city. There were travel tour companies with tour flyers to be taken away and perused as in Australia, and aside from the many comfortable looking bars with funky neon bar lighting, many shops, bakeries and pharmacies were still trading at 8pm. People waved and called, but didn't hassle us. We smiled back and said hello. We had heard about the Easy Rider motorcycle tour guides that operate in Dalat which we were very interested in, and on arrival were quickly approached by a very friendly gentleman Tuan who explained the tours. We have agreed to take a tour tomorrow which we are very much looking forward to!
Da Lat Hotels & Accommodations review
Thien An Hotel - wonderful wonderful
Thien An Hotel is the third hotel in the Dreams hotel empire, and owned by the brother of Mrs Dung at Dreams 1. We were disappointed when there was no… read entire review