Entry #44 of our travel diary. A different Vietnam, Dalat is pleasantly cool with plenty of forests and lakes.
4-9 January 2017 – Dalat
If I was a French colonialist of the 20th century this would be the place I’d chose to base myself in Vietnam. Hills with pine-trees, picturesque landscape, fresh air, cool breeze, a couple of lakes in the area. Taking into account the colonial architecture we saw, I believe this is what many French did back then, they established their life in Dalat. Some mansions were really beautiful.
We stayed around 4 full days out of which two were dedicated to birdwatching. My favourite part was observing birds in the hide located somewhere in the middle of the national park forest. Although we stayed there some 5 hours it wasn’t boring at all. Mainly because our guide provided his professional camera with a huge lens and I could pretend being a professional birds’ photographer.
However the best day for me was when we rented a scooter and drove around on our own in the hill roads surrounded by pine trees. We visited a pagoda that had a marvellous garden, we found a café with majestic view and cosy atmosphere (and we happened to be the only clients) and we walked in the forest along the lake, again no one else around. And suddenly I felt I am in Finland! It was very pleasant feeling, a nostalgic one.
And on Sunday morning I went to a church which happen to provide English interpretation. Possibly it is another French legacy, but there are so many churches in Dalat and in the South of Vietnam in general. And all of them seem to be active and with numerous members of the congregation. I was received very kindly and they made sure I felt well.
This morning we left Dalat to arrive to Ho Chi Minh late in the evening and then tomorrow morning we have to catch our flight. We’ll say good-bye to Vietnam and Asia. I really liked Vietnam 3.5years ago when we visited the North and I can only confirm that my pleasant impression haven’t mitigated after this visit. One cannot leave unnoticed how the country is developing and growing. But it has it’s own charm. And it is still one of my favourite Asian countries.
We are leaving Asia for a simple reason: we are tired of it, thus we decided to ‘change the picture’. Some gaps we will leave for discovering next time.
I now understand all the fuzz about Dalat. It is one of the most pleasant towns in all Southeast Asia. Colonial buildings among a landscape of lakes, forests and hills. The weather is cool and there are no mosquitoes. People seemed friendlier than in bigger cities and spend the afternoons in cosy coffee places (Dalat is one of the important coffee areas in Vietnam). Adding to that, the city council created a traffic-free weekend-nights, so one can walk in the town centre without constantly dodging all motorbikes and cars. Great initiative.
Dalat is in a sort of unique ecosystem, so there are special birds to see. We spent two days visiting areas but the most interesting was staying in the hide. Not only one can take great photos, but also observe the birds from quite close. It is a different experience from normal birdwatching.
After an one-night stop in Ho Chi Minh we have a long flight ahead of us. It is time to change scenery and leave Asia. I’m excited about next steps.