Thursday, May 6, 2010
DALAT: VIETNAM'S NIAGARA FALLS
Dalat is Vietnam's Niagara Falls. There isn't a falls but there is a beautiful lake for honeymooners to paddle around in. Apparently. When we were there it was being drained for sludge. Aside from that, the town is pretty and has a bunch of neat stuff like tacky advertising (see above), the summer palace of ex-Emperor (a.k.a. French flunky) Bao Dai, the Crazy House which is truly a fun time inside the head of a gonzo architect (female head of the local party boss with a PhD in architecture from Paris), and a beautifully tranquil Buddhist retreat in the mountains by a lake.
True fact: During the war it was one of the few places that didn't get bombed because the generals on BOTH sides liked to holiday here. They had their R&R is villas almost spitting distance from each other.
Anyway, before you wander Dalat, you have to get there. And clouds like this aren't promising...
Because you have to travel over mountains alongside cars, trucks and mopeds that maybe haven't had their last oil check.
There are also, it must be said, glorious tea plantations en route. (This shot from the car window -- our guide too wrapped up in a text message to ask the driver to stop.)
And then you arrive in Paris...
I mean Dalat. The Eiffel Tower is a bit of public art we saw outside out hotel window. The bee, teapot and cup and saucer (below) were across the street. We actually got to see these the following morning because our driver and guide were so hopelessly lost it was dark by the time we found our hotel. (BTW, check out the beautiful lake behind Daniel and you'll see why it was being drained.)
Next post some truly wonderful things -- the Buddhist retreat/school/complex, the Emperor's Palace and the (truly) Crazy House.