Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dalat & Mui Ne

Woke up at 6 to go to Dalat, the romantic hill station of Vietnam. Everywhere we sweat, in Dalat we need a coat, it's cold and it's raining. We stopped at the hotel where the bus dropped us off, got settled in and went to a restaurant. We had dinner, I had coke and a coffee - I need to wake up! chatted for a while, only to see 2 girls from the bus still walking with their backpacks. I don't get it! They were probably looking for a recommended hotel from the LP. It's so much easier to go with a fast choice as long as it's in the center. It's also usually cheaper, because it's not mentioned in the LP. I only go with LP choices when we're in a non touristic area, where it's impossible to find a hotel, or anyone who speaks English in it.
That day we went to a crazy house, as one of the not too many tourist attractions in Dalat. I wouldn't call it architecture though, just everything mixed together. Now it tries to be a hotel, but rooms are expensive and they all look alike with some clay animal in it and a bed somewhere in the round space. It seemed to me like the architect has imagination without much creativity. It has tall bridges connecting the buildings, but even I was a bit scared walking on them because the side walls were about knee high. Some places were still unfinished and had holes in the floor, wires sticking out, no fences, but some ok views :)
Next day I went to a canyoning trip. The best trip ever! It was cold, it rained on the way to the river, but luckily the river was warmer than the air. We did a bunch of test abseils to learn to control the rope and yourself on the vertical surface, it was the best training out of all the canyoning trips I've done so far. We ubseiled twice just on the wall. Then came a water slide  Are you kidding me? I was sure they were laughing at us. Ok, who goes first?! What??? They're not kidding??? They lie you down and you slide down somehow without breaking all your teeth and bones to the pool below. It was so much fun! :) Ok, now we're gonna slide backwards!!! Then we did some jumps, and then came to a big waterfall. Are you kidding me? I was sure they were laughing at us. Ok, who goes first?! What??? They're not kidding??? The current was too strong, and they said if we fall on the first part, not to bother getting up, just slide yourself down. I went last because it looked a bit dangerous, and I wanted to learn from the mistake that other people made. Most of them were robot like, and lowered themselves at a rate of 1 meter a minute ... kinda boring. My turn!! I slipped on the first part, the surface grew with some algae and the strong current that swept me off my feet didn't help. I sat in the harness, held the wall with the left hand and with the right lowered myself down. It was so much better and much easier, I think they should tell everyone to do it. Then came the 2nd part. They saw a look of excitement rather fear in my eyes, and told me to go right in the middle of all that water, lower your head so that the water will hit the hamlet ... yep, I forgot to do that :S Then you get to a 5 meter height  1, 2, 3 push off the wall, let go off the rope and fly backwards into the pool :) The next waterfall was a washing machine. There is too much water going into a very small space, so you lower yourself down into that pool, then let go off the rope, and in that pool you'll be like in a washing machine, until it spits you out somewhere in an open space. You have no idea what's happening to you, and where you are. Some people didn't let go off the rope and go stuck under water. Needless to say, most of them popped out quite freaked out ... I loved it! :))
When we went to find the office for the open bus ticket - since I'm not using local buses anymore!, we got pretty lost. Numbers don't make sense, there are 3 streets with the same name, we passed few houses with the same numbers (located on the same street). Finally we took someone by the hand and told her to take us there. We got the ticket for the next day, and with them booked a motorcycle trip of the surrounding area. Went to a flower farm, as always, the best flowers are for export. I didn't even see flowers sold locally. Then we went to a coffee plantation and had weasel coffee. They feed weasels coffee beans, they poop it out. It's very famous, very gourmet, considered to be the world's best. It was really good coffee, I liked it, I don't even know how to describe the flavour, but definitely something unique. Then we went to a place where they feed weasels the coffee. Omg, poor weasels. They're kept in tiny cages, walk 2 steps, then turn around and walk these 2 steps back, the smell is disgusting  it's impossible to stay there without covering the nose. That's it! No more weasel coffee!! Then we went to a silk factory. They showed us the whole process how they make silk. From growing the mulberry plants which the silk warms eat. It's possible to gather silk from different animals such as bees, wasps, and ants, silverfish, mayflies, beetles, lacewings, fleas, flies, midges and spiders. But the best silk is considered to be from mulberry eating worms.
When silkworms are born, they eat mulberry leaves without stop. After about a month they're ready to be cocooned  and in 2 days the "egg" is made. The outside of the egg has some fibers, and this is silk. The eggs are collected, dropped into boiling water to soften the silk, so that the spinning machines could easily pick it up and make silk threads. I was upset and asked them if at least they eat the worms? They said that some locals do, but I haven't seen it. That's it, no more silk! The machines that make the fabric are so complicated and interesting has a music like or old computer sheets with a bunch of holes which somehow make the patterns. Very cool!
On the way back it got windy and rainy, so co-co-cold!! Not much scenery, too much fog, and besides all the green natural scenery is changed by plastic green houses which probably make everything for export anyway.
I haven't noticed much romanticism, and if it wasn't for the awesome canyoning trip, I would've happily missed Dalat.
I got a virus on my computer :( It deleted absolutely everything on drive C ... all blog notes are gone, thank god I had a 3 week backup on my usb stick. Annoying!
Woke up at 6 to go to Mui Ne.
When the bus stopped for a lunch break, there was a cat and a dog snuggling together, that was very cute :) Also all the people from China took pictures of dogs, no wonder, they probably ate them all in there.
Mui Ne is very nice and small, very relaxing place, exactly what I need right now! Too bad though that the hotel people built the buildings very close to the water, or there was beach erosion, in any case, there is no beach left. From our hostel, there are steps going down to the "beach" which you see for a second before the next wave breaks. I didn't make it to the water, as I unknowingly fell asleep in a second when I laid on the "beach" chair (standing on a terrace, not on the beach). Next day I took a tour. We walked in a beautiful stream along red and white sand formations. Then we drove along the coast line to sand dunes where me and a girl (Penny didn't go because of her leg) rented an ATV. It was so much fun! First she was driving and we got stuck on our way up the hill. We went backwards, forwards, but just dug ourselves deeper and deeper. I think they have a "save the stupid drivers" help, because someone came right away and saved the ATV. It was my turn to drive down the hill. I love adrenaline, so I gave it some gas, we were both screaming going kinda sideways, tilted down the hill, but it was so much fun! Then we returned it accidentally to the wrong agency, but the "save the stupid drivers" help, came to rescue once more and showed us the way to the correct agency. We went through a very narrow path between the trees, with 2 very deep paths were the tires go. While I tried to maneuver the ATV so that it won't flip, we instead drove into a tree :) There was lots of screaming involved :)) Thank god nobody saw it :) We finished the day on red sand dunes, so peaceful after the ATV adrenaline rush. I love deserts. I (and apparently not only I) get a feeling there, like you get nowhere else in the world. I'm not sure why is that so. I'm thinking because there is absolutely nothing to concentrate your mind on, no people, no trees, no bushes, no animals, no sounds, the mind turns inwards and you feel eternal peace with some life's major obstacles and problems suddenly mystically solved.
I loved the tour so much that the next day we rented a bike and did the same thing with Penny, except that it was much more fun :)
Mui Ne is famous for not even fresh, but live seafood. I got so excited, we dressed up and went to the street which is full of aquariums selling all kinds of seafood. My excitement was short lived. When I saw this beautiful seafood, my appetite was gone. Sharks, sting rays, turtles, beautiful colorful lobsters and crabs, puffy fish they should be in the sea, not in the aquarium slowly grilling to death. I wanted to eat nothing and to get out of there as quickly as possible. At the end I ordered already dead shrimps, not that I enjoyed them much either.
I really wanted to go board peddling the next day before the bus, but I slept instead :)

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