13.06.2010 - 16.06.2010 27 °C
We were picked up from our hotel at 8 am in Nha Trang and take to get the bikes. The owner of the company let us know that we had picked up another Aussie bloke for our tour. Matt decided that he wanted to ride his own bike instead of being chauffeured like I was planning. Matt never having really ridden a motorbike decided where is a better place to learn. I mean they don’t have road rules here do they… He actually did really well.
Day 1. The bikes are loaded and we are ready to go. I think I spent more time looking back to see if Matt was doing ok than I did looking at the stunning mountain views as we made our way to Dalat. We see water falls and gorgeous valleys. It rains and then is doesn’t. We stop for Vietnamese coffee regularly (which I am actually coming around to) and chat. Matt and I pick up a few words in Vietnamese from out tour guide Bang. After a full day on the road we arrive in Dalat. It is cool. I am wearing a jumper and Im not hot. It is crazy. Dalat is a beautiful place. High in the mountains it was built during French rule as a place to holiday and get away from the heat of Saigon. As we came into town there were the most amazing French inspired houses. We arrive at our hotel and are pleasantly surprised at what we are getting. Matt goes out for a walk and I attempt to remove all the filth that had stuck after a day of motorbiking.
For dinner we head down to the night market and had Pho at a restaurant. We bought a bottle of Dalat red wine and had a few glasses. It was incredibly sugary. The Market….. It is cheap and sells a lot of winter cardigans. Unfortunately for us by the time we had finished dinner things were winding down and no one seemed all that interested in bartering or even selling for that matter. We picked up a few things and they went back to bed wishing we had more time to explore this stunning town.
Day 2. We get up nice and early and head out to the ‘Crazy House’. It is a house that was designed by a Vietnamese woman that spent a lot of time in Russia. You can stay at this place as it doubles as a hotel but you will need to get used to all the tourists there in the day time. It was certinaly crazy. It reminded me if Alice in Wonderland. All the rooms had a theme and there was even a kangaroo room. The steps were winding and the beds all crazy shapes. There were mushroom steps and huge log steps that I would not want to try and climb after a few drinks. There were mermaids and glitter. A lopsided teahouse and hidden pathways through the trees. It is the kind of place that turns everyone back into a kid and into a land of imagination. I will put some photos up but I don’t think that they will do the place justice.
On the road again we stopped and met some ladies that were flower farming just outside of Dalat. I saw a coffee plant for the first time and learnt about the harvesting process. Next stop the silk factory!! I was so excited until I learnt that they boil the silk worms while the are still in their cocoons so that they can remove the silk thread. As horrible as that was the whole process was pretty interesting. The way the looms work and the extraction methods. There was a shop attached and given more time I would have spend a lot more money there..
We spent the majority of the rest of the day making our way through the mountains. Lunch was amazing. We stopped in this little road side restaurant and let Bang order for us. He had let us know that it was only going to be 30,000 dong ($2) each so we weren’t expecting much. Out came about 9 dishes. There was an omelets, 2 fish dishes, soup, 2 chicken dishes, barbequed pork, pumpkin flowers in garlic, huge bowls of rice and iced tea. It was a feast and so tasty. Even Matt was impressed and when it comes to food he is a hard man to please.
We had one more stop to make before we arrived in Lak Lake. It was a factory where they produced the ethnic fabrics. The person who came up with these looms was a crazy person. They were incredibly complicated and when we asked one of the girls how long it takes to thread one and get it ready to work on she said 4 days!!!! And even then they can only produce 1 metre of fabric for every 8 hours worked. They had a different kind of loom that they were able to produce about 5 metres a day and that was impressive in a completely different way.
Not too long after that (after going down the worst hill full of potholes) we hit a section of the road that was all mud and huge puddles. Bang was a bit concerned at how Matt was going to go with getting through and he stopped when we made it to the other side on the only bit of dry land. Matt stops in the middle of the road with his feet in the mud struggling to keep the bike upright trying to tell Bang to get out of the way and let him move. Bang was too busy telling him to go slow to notice but I finally got him going and we all made it across without ending up covered in red mud.
We all arrive exhausted but safe at the resort. Matt and I are shown to our room and once again were very impressed with the accommodation provided. Taylor (the guy that is travelling with us) comes over to our room and we have a few drinks before dinner. Matt has been carting around a bottle of Vietnamese whiskey + spirit (which is what the bottle says although no Vietnamese person could elaborate on what this spirit is)that he and Taylor were drinking. Matt seems to get drunk immediately off the fumes of this stuff. It is incredible. He can sit there and drink 6 beers and be coherent but 2 glasses of this stuff and he is a bit of a spectacle. Needless to say dinner at the resort that night was fun for a lot of of people. There were a lot of other riding groups in the restaurant including the British couple that I met in Nha Trang. It was his birthday so he invited us to join them for cake. After a few more beers Matt and this drunk Vietnamese guy were daring each other to eat chillis. There was a dish of chopped chilies on the table and they halved it. The rules were that 1. You had to chew it before swallowing 2.The loser is the first to leave each other’s site or to drink any form of liquid.
Down the hatches… Matt’s face is bright red and the others guy is just looking worried. The waitress walks over and asks Matt to pay the bill as we had moved tables. Matt got up to leave and the Vietnamese guy yells out that he loses because he got and then he promptly runs to the bathroom and stays there for about 20 minutes. Matt is pretty smug in a sweating, my mouth and face are on fire but I won kind of a way. I convince Matt that it is time for bed and to also leave the remaining whiskey at the hotel…
To be continued........