What a week it’s been! Dalat, you’ve been too good to me!
My colleague Lien and I booked this double private room at Nguyen Minh Hostel online for $17AUD/night (!!!). What’s even crazier is that I moved into a separate room, a quadruple with two double beds (it was all they had left) which cost $11USD/night! ($14.75AUD) In comparison, a dorm bed in Australia will set you back $20-25AUD/night absolute minimum. You can’t make this stuff up, people.
Lien and I visited so many cool places; Dalat is literally such a random town. There’s so much weird shit here! For starters, the climate, landscape, produce, and population are so different to the rest of Vietnam (at least the places I’ve visited, which have been large cities and coastal towns. It is relatively cool here, and constantly raining. It’s high up in the mountains, so the landscape is really hilly. It actually reminds me a lot of New Zealand in that respect! Because of the cooler climate, Dalat is the pretty much only place in Vietnam that grows and produces wine, flowers, coffee, and fruits and vegetables that grow in cold weather, like berries. Furthermore, I’ve noticed a larger ethnic minority population here. Unfortunately, a lot of the ethnic minority people you see here are very poor and travel to Dalat from rural areas to beg. Many of them are children. One 13 year old boy we spoke to said he is on school holidays, so his parents drop him in Dalat at the start of the week, he has to beg every day, then they pick him up and he spends a week at home. We asked him where he sleeps, and he replied “wherever I can”.
On Monday, we took a city tour, which covered loads of Dalat’s most popular tourist sites.
Datanla Falls: There was two ways to get to the bottom of these falls – walking, or tobogganing. Y’all know me. Which one do you reckon we chose? #sorrymum
Check it out here! (I did NOT go this fast by the way!) >>> https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc23gBCCfSg
Dalat Market: a hub of activity, selling produce, packaged food, clothes; basically a Vietnamese Coles. Sometimes a kids’ dance club comes to the middle of this roundabout and dances for hours in the rain. Because why not…? Keep reading to hear about the best vegan eats in Dalat, which I somehow stumbled across at this market.
Dried Flower Showroom: these dried flowers are fresh flowers that have been genetically altered using biotechnology to last for 3-5 years, and are dyed the most amazing, vibrant colours.
Statue of Golden Buddha and Van Hanh Pagoda: Built in 2002, this statue measures 24m high! Such a beautiful monument.
St. Nicolas Cathedral a.k.a. Cock Church: wher they worship c…hrist. They worship Christ. What did you think I was going to say?
The summer palace of King Bao Dai, the last King of Vietnam: After Bao Dai stepped down as King, handing over rule of Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh and the Communist party, he relocated to France, where he lived out his days, apparently too ashamed to remain in Huế. This place was gifted to Bao Dai and the royal family by the French government, for them to stay at when they visited Vietnam. The amount of leisure/sitting areas her was insane. You could just imagine the royals flouncing about, sitting here for a cup of tea, sitting there to discuss terribly important matters. The grounds were equally as gorgeous as the interior, with bright, well kept flower gardens peppered throughout the eerie woods.
Canyoning: this. was. insane. I got thrown in with a group of about backpackers who had all booked together. There were people from New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland, France and Canada. This adventure consisted of 3 abseils, two of them down wet cliffs or waterfalls, and one resulting in a 5m drop into a lake; a 3km trek through the jungle, a 100m zipline, and opportunities to jump off the 6m and 11m cliffs into the lake. #reallyreallysorrymum. Fun fact: picture #2 was taken about one minute after a girl lost her balance and slammed into the rock face on my left, followed by the guide holding the safety rope slipping a good few metres, way too close to the edge of the cliff, before regaining his balance and telling me to smile for the camera. Rightio mate! Oh, and the safety mechanism to prevent you crashing into the rocks at the end of the zipline? In all seriousness, I would do this every week if I could – sooooo much fun. (Photos courtesy of Dalat Passion Tours)
Unfortunately a lot of my pictures I took on Snapchat and forgot to save them in time, but we also rode the cable car from Robin Hill to th Truc Lam monastery, which boasted birds eye views of Dalat City and the surrounding farms, woods and mountains.
Finally, the randomest of all the random is the 100 Roofs bar. Check this place out!
(Photos courtesy of Google images)
I have no idea how many rooms or floors this place has. It’s a labyrinth that must have some T.A.R.D.I.S. style physics going on. Great for a game of hide and seek, not great for losing your friends.
A sad part about Vietnamese, and Asian, culture is the mistreatment of animals. It’s not pretty to look at, but it’s the truth and it’s sonething I encounter every single day. Multiple live chickens stuffed into tiny cages together. Fish kept in tanks far too small and far too crowded. I’ve even seen a dog with its lower leg stitched on to its upper leg obviously improperly, the lower leg hanging limp and useless from the knee. Animals are viewed as equal with inanimate objects, and are exploited for money in ways that would never fly in Australia.
These poor horses looked so skinny and miserable. Standing in the damp, cold weather all day with no proper clothing. Shit like this absolutely breaks my heart. To me, it’s no different to seeing a human in the same position. If a human were made to endur ethe same conditions as these horses it would be wdapted into a horror movie. I can only hope that one day the broader public’s eyes will be opened to the sheer cruelty and masochism of these practices.
Now for my favourite part: fooooooood. Thankfully, absolutely no animals were harmed or exploited for these delicious dishes! Vegan for life and proud of it!
Vietnamese filtered coffee overlooking the main roundabout. Not a bad way to start the day.
Roasted sweet potato – snacked on this outside Truc Lam Monastery while waiting for the tour bus #classicveganweirdo
Lunch on the city tour was at a hotel restuarant, and consisted of this pineapple claypot and a SHITTON of steamed rice. The lovely Singaporean guy across from me looked slightly distressed that I almost finished a serving of steamed rice meant for four people. #highcarblife
If you have me on on any sort of social media you’re probably sick of me raving on about bloody soy bloody coffee. But you guys don’t understand how much I love this stuff, and how hard it is to find over here! The server even made TWO special trips to the shop to get soy milk just for me! Props to Chocolate cafe, another joint that seriously provides the goods – I also scoffed some toast, spinach, mushrooms, AND tomatoes for breakfast – wasn’t quite up to the standard of mum’s cooking, but it was close enough!
And now for the grand finalé! So one fine morning, I decided to peruse www.happycow.net for some cheeky vegan eats. Dalat has loads of vegan restaurants that serve local cuisine, but I noticed the Dalat Market was listed as having a few vegetarian food stalls in a food court on the second floor. I thought I’d check it out, and eventually found this place up a random staircase in the fresh produce section. I walked up to a stall which read “Cơm Chay”, meaning vegetarian rice, vegetarian food. The whole transaction consisted of me asking “vegetarian?” to which the cook replied, “noodles or rice?”. I chose rice, and I was not disappointed. For only 30,000vnd ($2AUD) I got a taste of about 10 different dishes, including mock chicken, jackfruit, some green stuff, green beans, three types of fried tofu, taro chips, some noodley things, rice, and vegetable broth with steamed potatoes, carrot, and some other vegetabley-ness. This was undoubtedly the best meal I had in Dalat. In fact, I returned pretty much daily, and ordered the “same same as yesterday” (you can’t say same just once guys, duh) and added a steamed dumpling-y thing with a very sweet, thick bread stuff with a mushroom/bean/mystery mixture.
A special mention to the Italian restaurant that served a to-die-for Pizza Vegana, topped with tofu, mushroom, olives, and some other yummy stuff. This is the first pizza I’ve had in Vietnam that had a proper doughy pizza base. *droooool*
PS – I sincerely apologise to any of my former English teachers reading this…I know vegetabley-ness is not a word, but it just fits so well!
That concludes Chloe’s adventures in Dalat! I probably won’t post again for a while due to being busy with work (and by busy I mean I’m usually hungover on my days off so stringing together an articulate blog post is out if the question). Tạm biệt y’all!