Da Lat Travel Blog› entry 74 of 117 › view all entries
June 8th, 2007 – by: dan2105
Having (almost) conquered the fear of riding on the back of a motorbike in a new country (any country, actually), I was ready to sign up with one of the Easy Riders, a motley crew of freelance travel guides with vintage motorcycles, dressed in Easy Rider coats, carrying certificates of authenticity. All the rage with travellers, some even choose to take a three-day trip east to Nah Trang or even the five-day trip up north to Hoi An.
I had already been accosted about 100 times on my first day by guys with 'Easy Rider' on their jackets, so once I had decided I would hire one for the day, I finally gave in to Hien, who claimed to be the founder of the Easy Riders. Now I'm not sure if Hien was telling the truth when he said this. Mainly because no other Easy Riders we saw on our travels seemed to give him love like you would expect them to give the founder. But, nevertheless, he kept going on about being the original - almost to the point I think he had a massive chip on his shoulder about it - saying how other people had stolen his idea, 15 Easy Riders had now become 80, and people who weren't the original were even making a web site advertising themselves as such.
We visited religious temples such as the Evangelical Church and Linh Son and Linh An Tu pagodas, complete with giant Buddhas and dragons. Hien taught me about the silk-making process, visiting a silk-weaving factory. On the way we passed some unbelievable country scenery. The American military did their best to destroy it during the war, but the views were still fantastic, even if some places remained almost barren as a result of napalm bombing or Agent Orange spraying. We also visited a delapidated American air base, still with a lookout tower and what's left of a runway.
For lunch, we stopped off at a cafe where, with Hien as a contact, we had an absolute feast for 20,000 dong - sounds a lot, but it's about 65p. Including soup, spring rolls, chicken skewers and bamboo shoots.
Lang Bian mountain, overlooking Dalat, was given its name by the French colonies, which quite upset the locals whose Vietnamese name for it meant 'Honeymoon Mountain,' due to its peaks which, to people with active Vietnamese minds, resemble a woman's head - with a long neck, I might add - breasts and legs. Hien tells me that French colonist Dr Alexandre Yersin, who came to Vietnam in 1889, thought that the relatively cool climate and luscious scenery would mean Dalat would make a good holiday retreat for the French living in China. A holiday resort for foreigners it undoubtedly is, but it primarily still remains as the locals regard it, the 'Honeymoon City,' as thousands of honeymooners visit each year.
The big scenic highlight of the day for me, though, was the Elephant Falls, given its (overly imaginative, if you ask me) name as a result of the rocks surrounding it looking like elephant trunks. A slippery descent down some rocks led to an awesome view of the waterfall; visually much more than the Tiger Falls we crossed the previous day.
Our final stop was the 'Crazy House', as its called by locals. Actually a guesthouse, cafe and art gallery, it looks like something out of a nursery rhyme. Pretty garish, it's got rooms you can stay in if you're that way inclined, each with a different theme - bear room, rabbit room etc. Its hippy designer, Dang Viet Nga, has a PhD in architecture from studying in Moscow. Her father was, believe it or not, Ho Chi Minh's successor - so she probably doesn't have much problem getting planning permission off the council or hear many bad words from the neighbours about it.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!