Dalat's the way (uh huh, uh huh), I like it!
Trip Start Jan 29, 2003
44Trip End Feb 01, 2004
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Where I stayed
April 14th 2003:
After only a few hours sleep, after celebrating with the one other Southampton supporter in Saigon, (who had even made the effort to fly down from Nha Trang to watch), I got up at 7:15 to get the bus to Dalat. It was a good minibus, and a decent journey, with only one stop when it absolutely pissed down with a huge thunderstorm which turned off the power in the restaurant, but anyway we got into Dalat about 4pm, 2hours later than planned but it was such a nice feeling getting out of that bus into such an English climate taht I didn't care
We arrived at the guest house of their choice, which turned out to be Phuong Hanh. The guide book says that you're looking at about $4-5/night for accommodation, so I hardly hesitated when I was shown an en-suite room with hot water, 2 double beds, a TV, and leather settee for $5/night.
After sorting myself out, I went for a stroll in search of a place called ActionMax travel. I later found out that this place has now shut down, and so I walked into the nearest tour operator and made some inquiries. Fortunately the place I was in, worked on behalf of an adventure sports company, and so the canyoning trip I came here to do was possible, and at excellent value - only $16 for the day.
I got showered back at the hotel, and went out for some grub. After walking down some very dark, un-nervingly quiet alleyways, I eventually came across a cafe, which appeared to have some other Westerners in. They turned out to be a couple of Dutch guys, who were saying the reason that Vietnam is so quiet, (especially Dalat) is because of the war and the SARS outbreak. I sort of expected this, but was not prepared for actually HOW quiet a lot of places are
15th April 2003:
Went downstairs at 8am as told, awaiting my pick-up, but was told by the receptionist that it was not arriving until half past. So, I waited and laughed to myself at all the other mugs going off on the sight-seeing tours. (one place is called chicken village, but not for the amount of the poultry roaming about, but for a 4ft statue of a chicken in the middle of a park?????????)
The 4x4 picked me up, and I was introduced to my 2 guides for the day - Thai and Usher. This was the other thing. I had 2:1 tuition as there were no other punters there.
We arrived at Datanla park, and went for a hike to the first rock face, which was 10m high, and was used for me to practice my abseilling techniques, and to get a grip with the basics. I was already really enjoying the company of the lads who both spoke good English, enjoyed their job, and liked having a laugh normally at Usher's expense
I soon got the hang of the abseilling, and so we moved on to the next rock. This was a 20m drop, and I had to jump from side to side as well as out and down to avoid large crevices and dodgy rock. This was great fun, and an amazing buzz.
Unfortunately I told Thai that I had done a bit of rock climbing before, (though I failed to tell him that my greatest achievement was scaling the beginners wall at Bournemouth climbing club on my second attempt) and so in a change from the normal itinerary, he decided we should climb the wall I had just abseilled down. I gulped, but I think I hid my fear well. Usher went first, and then it was me. The first half was alright, but towards the end, some of the rocks were at an incline going towards me! After a lot of sweating, some wild jumps and a bit of luck I made it up to the top, and realised exactly why climbers climb. The sense of achievement is immense. The guides were suitably impressed, telling me very few people manage to get to the top, inflating my ever-growing ego.
The next drop was about 15m, but below that there was only water, next to a very powerful looking waterfall. My bewilderment was soon answered when we were all putting life-jackets on, and on reaching the bottom, just had to let go and fall in the water. Unbelievable. Thai then decides its a good time to tell me that there are piranha in the water, but not to worry as they rarely attack humans?!?!
We then had lunch right next to the waterfall, which was impressive enough, but on opening my lunch, they had only got me cheese sandwiches. Yes!!!! The other food was equally as nice, and I was beginning to wonder if this day could get any better.
Yes, it could
We then spent the rest of the afternoon at another waterfall, which had nature-made slides running through it, and was unbelievably good fun. I just hope some of the pictures come out.
We then climbed the mountain, or rather hiked it, and Thai became visibly pissed off when he saw a lot of trees had been cut down, and when he found the bloke who was doing the cutting, I was sure he was going to give him a hiding, but he kept his cool. Apparently its illegal to cut down these trees, and this bloke had just come out of prison 2 weeks ago for exactly this crime, and yet here he is once again, just waiting to get banged up once more.
We then waited at the top for the 4x4 to pick us up, drying off our clothes, when a motorcyclist came up the road, and was obviously in disbelief that one person could be so white, and managed to crash his bike into the mountainside, and go ass over tit, but fortunately for him, he was alright and we clambered into the jeep and headed back to the office where we had some Vietnamese whiskey before Thai dropped me off at my hotel.
On dropping me off, I turned round and said to him 'Thai, you've got the best job in the world'. And at the time I honestly believed that.
This was definitely the best day trip I've done so far, and it has given me a real urge to do more extreme sports. I am now intent on a diving course, paragliding (possibly in Krabi), parachuting, and a bungee.
So, if you come to Dalat, book up a canyoning trip with Hardy Dalat, and you will not be disappointed.
Right, off to Nha Trang tomorrow, where I am told there are some great watering holes, and so will probably spend a few days on the piss. Their booze cruise is meant to be one of the best in the world. I'll let you know!