15/03/2013 - 16/03/2013 23 °C
To travel the Vietnamese coast we chose the open bus ticket where you pay in one go for travel from Saigon to Ha Noi and visit a certain number of stops along the way. All you need to do is call the travel agent and reserve a place on the bus a day before you want to move on to the next destination. It's certainly not as attractive as the train but incredibly convenient. City centre drop-offs that eliminate the need to negotiate a tuktuk ride from a far off bus/train station are very welcome.
First stop was Dalat and an massive change in scenery from previous locations on my trip. It's inland from the coast and nestled at a reasonable altitude amongst rolling green hills. As a result the climate is very green and much cooler than anywhere I've been in 2 months. Dalat is rich in fresh produce - mainly fruit, flowers and wine. It felt great to be out of the sweatbox and into such a lush environment.
(Most photos of my trip up the coast were taken on my phone. Thought the quality would be better than it is)
As with many places in this region the French colonial history is apparent. Even the phone masts have a certain 'I don't know what'
One of Dalat's main attractions is the self proclaimed Crazy House. It's the base of a huge tree (made from cement) with hollowed out roots/branches giving the feeling of being some kind of 10cm tall fairy. I think the most crazy thing about it was the actual idea and conviction to build it.
The remainder of our only full day in Dalat was spent looking at a pagoda and temple and then a walk around the lake. Very peaceful and pleasant. In the evening we walked around the night market and a bought a huge bag of blackberries for about 30p. Ignoring the slightly gritty consistency I later realised that I must have consumed a huge amount of dirt and crap due to them not being washed. This realisation came from the horrendous stomach pain and that 'just on the edge of vomiting' sensation I had for the following 4 mornings. Lesson learnt.
I thought Dalat was a really nice town and a worthy stop if you have a good amount of time to travel the coast, as I did. Two nights was sufficient, however, and the beach resort of Nha Trang was calling.