Easy Rider Motorcycle Tour of Dalat
Da Lat Travel Blog› entry 174 of 206 › view all entries
Big breakfast at the hotel this morning; all the hotel guests sat round a table set with plates of fruit, bread rolls with peanut butter, strawberry jam and, guess what? Marmite. Thank the lord. At 9am we met our motorcycle guides outside and set off on a whirlwind tour of all the best bits of Dalat.
I haven't been on a motorcycle before, so it was a pretty exciting experience just to be on a bike. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and cruising around the little town was immense fun. We started at a pagoda, I think it was the Linh Phuoc Pagoda, a little outside the main town. This was beautifully decorated with the 4 main animals in the Buddhist religion; the dragon, the turtle, the crane and the lion.
Next we stopped off at some farming fields to talk about local production. Until recently the government subsidy for people out of work was similar to income from working, so many people chose not to work. Only recently has this been addressed, but as a consequence Dalat people are inherently 'lazy' according to our guide Tuan. They produce strawberries (the lady picking them offered them to us to try - delicious!), tapioca, carrots, beans, cauliflower, brocolli and there are no natural predators so they need no pesticides and can keep their produce organic. They also produce flowers, some of which we saw now, the techniques of which have been learned from
We then took a long drive into the hills taking in some magnificent scenery; the tiered hillsides prepared for crops, with the stripes and squares of different yields. Additionally the earth here is very red; I had thought pindam was a soil peculiar to
Hooning towards our next stop we smelled the most beautiful smell, like frangipani or honeysuckle.
Onto the restaurant we would be eating at later, and we were shown downstairs to their mushroom basement. Here nylon bags of sawdust are wetted with a tapioca stem core, and allowed to sit for some time until mushrooms begin to grow on the tapioca. Then the bags are slashed so the mushrooms can grow out and hung in little hangers and sprayed regularly to keep moist. The mushrooms are used in local restaurants.
They also had racks and trays of silk worms. They collect the silk worms and collect vegetation of the silk worms' favourite kind to lay with them so they can eat and fatten over 21 days. When they make cocoons they are laid in racks to produce their silk and sold to the factories who throw them in hot water before the moth can make a hole in the cocoon to escape. The silk is hard to collect when dry, but in the water the ends of the threads can easily be collected and spun onto thread wheels. This we saw at the next stop, the silk factory. The silk threads are then dried and then spun into beautiful silk patterns before dying. The dying process somehow produces a beautiful two-tone effect that is not by design. Honeymoon silk is created using the silk from cocoons that have two silk worms inside them. The silk is coarser at first, then heavier later, though still soft. The larvae found in the remaining water-logged cocoons are sold to restaurants for food. The lucky escapee silk worms can mate, though they will never fly because they are too fat, especially the females which are bigger by nature. The silk at the factory was beautiful and cheap, so Zoe and I bought a few presents for ourselves and for family...
We drove onto
Back to our mushroom restaurant for lunch, and just in time as the heavens opened. We sat on the wooden balcony overlooking the fish pond, the coffee trees, and the mountainous land and plates and plates just started arriving! Steaming rice with chicken, pork with sesame, egg fritatta, mushrooms, garlic spinach, steamed fish, green beans, soup, pork with cauliflower and brocolli, lamb seasoning with salt and pepper, fish sauce and soy sauce. It was a feast! And I did well to put away what I did. Zoe eats 'little 'n' often, so I often end up eating what she doesn't. As she fielded persistant attempts to get her to eat more, her assertions that I'm the human dustbin backfired on me when they turned the persistant demands onto me instead. So I was still eating long after everyone else finished as they continued to pile my plate high! Can't say I minded very much though. To plagiarise the Lonely Planet,
A quick stop in someone's garden to see passionfruit growing after our delicious dessert and a quick stop at another flower greenhouse. Tuan pointed out those flowers new to his nation and explained that the flower techniques they have learned from
Final stop in Dalat at the Hang Nga Guest House & Art Gallery (or better known as Crazy House). As we understand it, the second president of
coincided to produce this crazy house/hotel. Think Gaudi. Bizarre tunnels and odd staircases that wind inside and out over bridges and under others with little nooks concealing rooms known as the kangaroo room, the ant room, the tiger room, the termite room etc. Some are beautiful, some are creepy, some are downright weird. The whole house is a fun multi-level, multi-dimensional exploration, and with beautiful gardens of toadstools and fish ponds, giant spiders webs, it makes a truly magical visit.
Finally we zoomed home in the end-of-day traffic which made