unreal scenery in the mountain town of da lat, vietnam
Da Lat was somewhere that I was both super excited about but also mildly dreading due to the 'Tropical Trek' I knew we'd be doing at some point. Making our way from Nha Trang to Da Lat on our bus reminded me of making the six hour journey from Hanoi to Sapa. Not only was the scenery absolutely stunning, but also incredibly diverse as you headed further inland.
We arrived late in the afternoon, and after trying to catch glimpses of Da Lat through the bus windows (I kept making the mistake of sitting in the middle) a few of us headed out in search of some culture and a bite to eat.
After what felt like hours and many disagreements on where to eat, we came across a cute little cafe/bistro and truly scoffed our faces with rice and spring rolls before heading to the local bakery to pick up a cake for one of our tour guides D who unfortunately had to leave the tour for personal reasons.
If you're a cake fan, definitely check out the bakeries in Da Lat! Not only can you get a big carton of cake trimmings for like sixty pence, but there is such a variety of sweets and treats that even if you're determined to keep your waist line, you're going to be walking out with an armful of goods.
Cake in hand we headed back to our hostel to throw a little thank you party for D, complete with cocktails and local beer, before heading back to the rooms for the night in preparation for the dreaded tropical trek.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and hopped on our minivan into the countryside of Da Lat. Excited to be learning about the coffee and flowers that make up Da Lat's main areas of income we set off up-hill towards Lang Biang Mountain.
It's fair to say that the climb to the top was a hard one for me as a self-proclaimed hater of exercise and lover of chips. I'm talking 'oh sweet Jesus I can't do this' kind of hard, with profuse sweating and swearing and waves of embarrassment, but with lots of stops and mental encouragement from Jane, Faryl and Ellie I made it to the top!
The climb down through the forests of Da Lat was much easier, even if it meant climbing over felled trees and pulling leeches out of Faryl's feet. The later part of the trek was easily the best of the trip, with so many hilarious almost-falls and deep conversations, including mini-rants about the treatment of elephants and why we'd never ride an elephant.
With the bulk of the day over and done with we headed to a little retreat to sit down and have our food, complete with a bag of puppies to cuddle and play with and ultimately break our hearts when we had to leave them all behind (still thinking of you bonbon...).
A little feast of bread and cheeses accompanied by watermelon and pineapple filled us as we sat by the lake and reflected on the day.
Feet aching and necks sweaty we piled back into our minivan and headed to a nearby Pagoda before heading back to the hostel for our final night in Da Lat.
After a truly delicious vegetable curry (and other assorted foods) at a tiny little restaurant I can't remember the name of for the life of me, we tested our new-found haggling skills on the night market in the town square; something I'd definitely recommend for the atmosphere and experience itself.
On our way back to the hostel we came across a quaint little bar in which we sat and had a few chilled out drinks as no-one felt like going 'out-out', before getting a good night's sleep in preparation for our long journey to Ho Chi Minh City.
The two or so days we spent in Da Lat wasn't enough time by far, and with a whole city to explore I'll definitely be back to soak in the sights and attractions, but this time with a set itinerary and idea of what to see and do!