Da Lat Travel Blog› entry 109 of 126 › view all entries
I got a map from the hotel, rented a motorbike for the day, and set out to explore Dalat. The city can seem very confusing when riding in by bus on hilly winding streets, but was not so difficult by motorbike. A communications structure that resembles a narrow Eifel Tower with a big ball on top and two church steeples made perfect reference points since they could be seen from far off in most any direction.
My primary objective was to find the old U.S. Army airfield that I had visited several times forty years ago. The map showed an airport to the west and I headed off in that direction. The road passed the Cam Ly Waterfall so I stopped and paid the 10,000 Dong admission. The falls were more a wide spill over smooth rock than a thundering cascade. But the park was well worth the visit with its pine-shaded trails meandering along both sides of the narrow Cam Ly River.
Back on the road, I found the 'airport' and sure enough, it was the old army airfield. Long abandoned, I couldn't understand why it would be depicted on a map. The runway looked like it could easily be put back into service. Even its markings were faintly visible and the old control tower still stood. I cruised its length from end to end looking for anything recognizable but my memory was faded more than the runway markings.
I rode back into town to familiarize myself with its winding streets.
A cool-looking railroad station was also pictured on the map. I found my way there to see if they had trains to Saigon but the line only ran north to Hanoi and points between. I'd rather travel by train than bus, especially coming down the mountains.
The lake is drained for another year or so while a construction project takes place at one end. Normally the picturesque Xuan Huong Lake is the crown jewel of Dalat. Much of the city is centered around it but most of the lakeshore and surroundings are well preserved in their natural state. In hills near the far end I stumbled onto the impressive Cuan The Am Pagoda and stopped for a picture. From there I was able to find my way around the far end and headed back toward the center of town.