February 6 – 7, 2013
Surprisingly, the bus to Dalat went smooth. We followed the travel agent over to the bus terminal, and he made sure the bikes got on the bus no problem. The bus even left on time! We were on a sleeper bus which has two levels of beds, or more like really reclined seat instead of regular bus seats. They were pretty comfortable and we ended up in the back row on the upper lever next to a Dutch girl traveling alone.
The ride was uneventful but relaxing. We snoozed, read and listened to music. The bus didn’t go too fast, so it took 9 hours plus 4 stops to get to Dalat, which was only about 200 miles from HCMC. When we got to town around 6pm, it was dark and chilly. I actually had to put on a sweater! We were planning on walking to the hotels with our new Dutch friend, but they were all several kilometers away, so I gave her a ride instead.
We found a room with three beds and invited Leonie to share a room with us. The next day, I discovered I had left my shoes at our hotel in Saigon. I immediately called the hotel and explained the situation. Luckily, they agreed to send them by bus to Dalat that day, so we could pick them up at the bus station later.
The three of us decided to check out the Crazy House. The “house” was more of complex of concrete structures connected with elaborate suspended staircases and walkways. It exhibited a strange flavor of architecture drawing on fairy tales and maybe Dr. Seuss but with a 1970’s sci-fi movie set feel. There were several “themed” rooms such as the “Termite Room” or the “Bear Room” that apparently could be rented for the night. The whole thing was a bit odd, and parts of the suspended walkways were straight up dangerous, but it was an excellent way to kill and hour or so.
We spent the next couple of hours wandering around town. Dalat is very hilly and a number of the streets were quite steep. We followed a few narrow alleys which led to neighborhoods perched on the sides of steep hills. The topography combined with the quaint French influenced architecture made the place feel a little european, in contrast to the rest we have seen of Vietnam.
At the bottom of the hills, there is a reservoir which we wandered around. For some reason, neither Chandler nor Leonie wanted to go on the romantic swan boat ride with me. They both claimed that the comb on the swans head actually made them romantic chicken boats, but I wasn’t convinced.
Before dinner, I called the hotel to get info on my shoes. Turned out, they sent the wrong shoes by mistake. However, the owner of the wrong shoes coincidentally lives in Dalat and would bring my shoes with her on the bus that night. I needed to pick up her shoes and meet up with her in the morning for a swap. Some things just can’t be easy.