Sunday September 24
A leisurely start asa the bus wasn’t due until 9.30am. Our 3 nights accomodation, laundry, phone SIM and water cost just under $100.00AUD. The bus company sent a runner to pick us up and direct us to the bus relay station. The big busses don’t enter the city. Passengers are ferried out to them on smaller commuter busses. This was our first sleeper bus and we found it quite comfortable. I wouldn’t have wanted to be any taller though. Lea likened it to airline business class without the movies or champagne.
The trip was about 6 hours and would have been relaxing except for the constant use of the horn by the driver. Lea counted 20 blasts per minute at times. Use of the horn is not aggressive in Vietnam but used merely as a courtesy warning. Many vehicles have horns with multiple tones for different situations. From the Delat bus station we again transferred to a small bus to deliver us to our hotel.
Our destination was Crazy House Hotel and we were booked into the “Termite Room”.
This is one bizarre building! Very complex and weird in design and layout it was created as an artistic project and is now one of the 10 top strangest hotels in the world.
The “Termite Room” is the smallest room in the hotel but the only one we could get. It was tiny, with a big bed and mirrors on the walls and ceilings. The bathroom was rather large in comparison. Not a flat wall or hard angle anywhere. The ceiling was shaped to be like the inside of a termite mound and tiny fireplace was set in a small termite mound.
We went for a wander to find a meal for dinner and ended up at a BBQ restaurant as the heavens opened and a tropical deluge began. We got the last fully undercover table. Fortunately our waitress spoke English and she guided us through the cooking. Our table had a central hole into which a pot of burning charcoal was placed and a grill laid on top. Then it was up to us to cook our own food. The meat arrived pre marinated with raw veggies sauces and condiments. Our waitress helped us cut the pork off the ribs and the chicken into pieces. She kept an eye on us and helped when necessary.
We were the only westerners in this very busy restaurant. It was a really tasty meal and we thoroughly enjoyed it. With 4 beers the cost was about $25AUD. We gave the waitress a good tip and headed back to the hotel in the drizzle.
Monday September 25
Awoken by a bugle call at 5.30am. Undaunted by the heavy rain we headed out early to find some breakfast. We headed toward the lake passing through markets with a spectacular display of fresh produce. Avocados the size of baseballs, strawberries galore and wonderful flower displays.
Stopped for a warming soy milk drink from a street vendor with the friendly locals
We found a nice cafe overlooking Xuan Huong Lake for breakfast as the rain came down. It cleared a bit so we headed off to explore and found some amazing modern buildings on top of an underground shopping complex.
Open spaces and spectacular glass structures
At the end of our walk around the Lake we found the Flower Gardens.
Here we found a mixture of kitsch statues and lovely displays
After booking our bus to Na Trang, some clothes shopping and fuelling up with lunch we set off again to the base of the local chairlift. The French influence is easy to see in many of the beautiful buildings and chateaus. The chairlift took us up to Truc Lam Monastery perch up high overlooking Tuyen Lam Lake. We missed our tun off to find Datania Falls but saw the spillway which had been done very creatively. We learned that during the war there was a tacit agreement to leave Dalat alone. In fact it was rumoured that commanders from both the North and South had time out from the war in neighbouring chateau’s.
Back to hotel where we explored the bizarre architecture some more. An extension is being built to an Ocean Theme with detailed sea creatures built into the walls together with excellent art work on the walls and ceilings. The camera just couldn’t capture it. We had walked 26km for the day so a nice sit down Chinese dinner with wine was very welcome.
Tuesday September 26
A yummy street baguette for breakfast while waiting for the bus outside the hotel. Transferred to the big bus and a 4 hour journey to the coast. The drive was very scenic through the mountains with lots of waterfalls. Rich farmlands and virgin forrest alternated depending on the steepness. Very green and pretty.
Arrived at seaside Na Trang just before lunch. First job was to book tickets on the evening sleeper train to Da Nang. We left our backpacks at the travel agent and went off to explore.
Na Trang was bustling and hot. Lots of huge construction works going on. People selling goods and services were very pushy and everything seemed expensive. Lots of Russians have settled here since the war and Russian tourism is huge here. Lunch and a cold beer watching the world go by then a relax on the beach. The beach is a 6 km stretch of lovely white sand and kept immaculately clean. Lea went for a swim while I snoozed.
Early dinner then off to the station for our first sleeper train journey.
The trip was great and the beds comfortable and clean, we slept well. The other 2 in the cabin were very quiet. Apart from the occasional jolt it was pretty smooth.