Monday, May 7, 2007

Dalat, Vietnam - 27Apr07

Romantic Dalat, The City of Eternal Spring

Dalat is a combination of Cameron Highland, Malaysia and Jiu Fen (九份), Taiwan. The Cameron Highland part is the strawberry, cactus, flower, vegetable and the colonial kind of feeling, which is French over here. The Jiu Fen kind of feelings came from the town area which is basically build on the slope and a lot of up and down hill. The simple way to decribe Dalat is, a cold mountain area with fresh air and romantic ambient. Those pine trees are really very beautiful! i have only seen a pine tree 'forest' at Mt Kinabalu!

i hire a motorcycle driver (they called Easy Rider here) to drive me around the city. This area is quite extensive so might be too much to walk. i got the so call 'student' price, an inflated price of 50%. We went to a Zen temple with a beautiful lake. The lake reminded me of the "mirror lake" in one of the Jin Yong martial art novel. i like this temple, i think it has a very conductive cultivation environment. The things that i don't like is, there is a monk who will knock at the huge alms bowl whenever people make temple donation. I think this in a way gave people the wrong idea that, alms bowl should put money! But may be this is a Mahayana way that i do not know. Anyway, i couldn't find a donation box and i don't feel comfortable with this way. i just walked off without donation. :) (Gave a small dana to another temple which i could find a donation box then.)

The other interesting site was a Church. The church looked so much like a Chinese temple. It was on the hill with very good view of the town then. The Easy Rider later told me that, the priest who initiated this church had Chinese blood and insisted that the temple to have something 'chinese'.

The other famous tourist spot was Bao Dai's Summer Villa. He was the last king of Vietnam. Due to the Vietnamese holiday, the place did look like a circus to me with so many visitors and the costume renting kind of thing in both outside and inside of palace. You pay and rent a king costume and take photograph. Many local like it!

The highlight of today should be the water fall. i took the 400meter short trek to get to the valley. The waterfall was beautiful and due to rainy day, the water was very 'fast'. i didn't touch the water but just sitting there and admiring the view. The good thing was, not many people. There was a kind of roller coaster over here which would get you from the mountain to the valley. You could even control the speed of the roller coaster! The whole things looked scary to me, so i didn't try it. Trekking was far too suitable to me.

When i bought water from a local grocery shop, again, the owner is a half Chinese. Chinese is always some kind of business man around the world. i talked to the father of the owner in my broken Cantonese. The father said, his wife is a local Vietnamese so the son couldn't speak chinese already. Long time ago, the Vietnamese government actually banned chinese from learning the mother tongue. The ban has been lifted now, but many generations in mid-year couldn't speak chinese then. The younger generation however have the opportunity to learn the language now.

The Easy Rider said he got 11 siblings! His sister married an American soldier so 5 of the siblings and the mother immigrated to California. As the eldest son, he have to stay here to take care of his father's tomb and the rest of the siblings who are still staying in Vietnam. He is almost the same age as my mom and his eldest son is still in University. In a way, i think the siblings in the America could really do something to help the brother! At the age of 54, he still has to work hard to support the family and life in Vietnam is not really easy. i would do something to help my family if i have the ability to do so. Anyway, may be i don't know the whole story and may be it is just another culture.

Dalat was once called Le Petit Paris and is often called the City of Eternal Spring. The average temperatre is 24 degree celcius and it is the country's most popular honeymoon spot.
i left this place in just two days time as it is too romantic to stay alone here!

Du sinh Church. It looks like a Chinese temple and it is on a hilltop with beautiful views in all directions.

Hang Nga Gallery & Guest House, nicked name "Crazy House". The architecture is something straight out of "Alice in Wonderfland": there are spider webs made of wire, concrete "tree trunks", cave-like quirky rooms ... The designer is from Hanoi and lived in Moscow for 14 years, where she earned a PhD in architecture.

Bao Dai's Summer Palace. This villa is set in a pine grove and it was said that the decor has not changed in decades.
(Bao Dai was one of the emperor of Vietnam.)

Xuang Lin Monastery (双林寺). A Zen Chinese temple on the hill, overlooking a big beautiful lake and with lovely garden.

To get to this water fall, one could walk down hill for 20 minutes or take the roller coaster-like cable car.

View from Dalat University.

The monk of Lam Ty Ni Pagoda. The on-time hermit monk has today earned himself the esteemed title of "the business monk" by the local motorbike guides. He sells painting to the tourists and is said to be the wealthiest person in Dalat.

1.) Accommodation: USD 8
2.) Food: 38000 D
3.) Sights: 20000 D
4.) Transport: 210 000 D
5.) Others: 18000 D

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