La Da Lat

Trip Start Aug 17, 2011
Trip End Oct 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Binh Yen Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, September 11, 2011

So we've been looking forward to Da Lat for a while.  When we planned our first trip to Vietnam, naively underestimating the size of the country, we'd planned on sweeping down the coast, from Hanoi to Saigon and back, all in less than two weeks.  The highlight of the trip was to be Da Lat, La Petite Paris de l'Orient, where we'd spend a couple of days relaxing.  Well, our plans collided with reality, and on that last trip, we never made it south of Hanoi.

This time, though, we made it.  With the highest of hopes, we boarded the bus from Nha Trang to Da Lat, (Jared's whore came to see us off) and when, 5 hours later, we debarked, we were anything but disappointed.

Hilly, winding roads full of small houses with modern architecture. This city is definitely reminiscent of Paris or of the French countryside. A short walk in either direction of the city and you find yourself in farm country: rice paddies, orchards, and even vineyards stretch to the mountains at the horizon.

One day we go in search of the Valley of Love, which we've seen in pictures to be an unspoilt green nook amid the mountains.  Well, we found the Valley of Love, and what was likely once and untouched paradise.  What it's been turned into, though, is one of the tackiest tourist attractions on the planet.  The hillsides are lined with kitschy attempts at cartoon characters, grotesque Mickey Mice and half-assed Pokemon.  Benches scattered throughout the park are in the shape of two lovers' faces inside of a heart.  I assume this was some Michael Bolton cover art back when Michael Bolton existed.  The lake is filled with hideous swanboats (no threat to Boston's), which of course we rented.  The Valley of Love was an abomination, but an abomination in the Asianest possible way.  

Good taste of New England weather up in the highlands. Freezing in the morning and evening, warm during the day. The first night we were so unprepared that we set out to find jackets. The local market sells NorthFace jackets for about US$40.  We can't tell if they're super high quality fakes, or stolen from some Vietnamese factory, but either way they're a better deal than $200 for the same damned thing back in Hingham.

Ate some crazy foods: chicken feet, giant shrimp, weird sea snails, and fertilized quail eggs. Not so proud of ourselves, but when in fake Paris...
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