Escaping from the Coastal Trail

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 1 - Wandering the Town, Linh Son Pagoda
Spent the morning on a bus out to Dalat which got me into town around lunch time. Ended up in front of a hotel and given the town was hilly and quite spreed out decided to just stay there. At $8 a night I wasnt going to find anything cheaper anyway.

After dumping the bags decided to wander the town and check out the tour agencies which were quite spaced out. Hadnt quite expected such a big town sprawled over such a large number of mountain tops and valley floors. Seems peaceful enough though no real views of the area outside of town. Unlike the smaller town of Sapa.

Made it to a few travel agencies and found a number of city tours that took you around the surrounding area. Also found a couple of day hikes a single person could do with a guide but decided against doing this in the end since I planned to only spend a single day here. Ended up settling for a countryside tour that would take me to various agricultural places around town as well as a waterfall (one of many) and pagoda.

In my wandering also found a pagoda which was small but interesting enough. Certainly like the little pools with rocks, small trees and scenary that I found here and at other various temples around Vietnam. Might think of making one when I get home though I need to find a large interestingly shaped rock for it.

While wandering around also got approach an annoying number of times. Seems that this is the place for easy riders (ie peopel you do bike tours). Lost count of the number of times I got approached about doing a tour with one of them. After wandering the street did not do much else except head back to the hotel. Only other time I wandered out was for dinner. Definately to hilly without enough sites to just wander around town. 

Day 2 - Countryside Tour including Flower, Cofee, Cricket, Silk Worm Farms, Elephant Falls + nearby Pagoda, Railway Station, Crazy House
Headed out with 3 other people on this tour as well as an informative guide.

First stop was a flower farm full of greenhouses and flowers. Seems that it can take a few years for the plants to grow and produce flowers. Also, depending on the plant, a number of flowers and be gotten from it provided its cut in the right way. In one case up to five flowers can be gotten from a plant before it has to be removed. In another a single plant take 3 years to grow and only produces a single flower. As you can guess this is the kind of considerations taken into account when the price of the are set.

While here also saw someone weeding the field by hand. Guessing it must take a bloody long time  given the number of weeds I saw. Seems pretty labour intensive.

Continued on to our next stop past a lot of coffee plantations. Seems lots of the native forest has been cut down to plant the coffee trees. Could see lots of steep sloped, which must be a pain for picking, covered in plants. Also had some nice mountain views of the surrounding jungle and forests that appear on these mountains. Definately seems like a nice place for a hike.

ended up a a small village. Seems the government relocate some locals to these small communities by subsidising the building of the houses. Appears that in the past coffee growing was done in an unsustainable way. That is, forests were cut, trees were planted and once teh nutrients were all sucked out of teh ground and couldnt support the plants anymore the people moved on to the next spot. Seems the government realised this was unsustainable and did something about it.

Here we saw a few families around and chatted with an old guy who knew a bit of french. Was a bit rushed here since it would have been nice to have just wandered around by myself for a while and not have to stay with the group which walked into and out of the center of the settlement (and thats all).

From the village made our way past more coffe plantations and stopped to look at some trees. Appears that this area has 3 species of been that they cultivate. While I have seem and tasted the coffee fruit before this was the first time I had seen the white flowers that pop out before the fruit. Something new.

Continued onto the next stop which was a cricket farm. Before getting here though we stopped at a river where we had some nice views and saw someone chopping up and selling marine life that I am assuming came out of the river.

At the cricket farm saw boxes full of crickets. This is not a local meal as such but rather a snack thats brought out when people visit. Am guessing that locals who work in the field just catch them to saw the crops. Waste not, want not must be the motto since rather than throw away the nutrients the insects provide they eat them. Guess if you make the effort  to catch them its probably not a bad option.

Were offered a bowl at the farm and I tried a couple. Thet were Ok. Think I tasted teh sauce more than anything else and ended up with a leg stuck in my tongue. While not discusting I dont think its something I would choose to eat given a choice on a menu.

Continued driving through the mountains past forest and lots of coffee plantations. Had some nice views prior to reaching the silk farm. Here observed how silk worm cocoons are processed to get the silk thread. Basically soak in water, connect one end to a spindle which spins and separates the thread from the cocoon. From this got the impression that the cocoon is made from a single thread since if it wasnt you would need to constantly reattach it to the spindle.

Here also saw a weaving machine. as canbe seen in the photo a bunch of wooden slates with holes in it are feed into the machine at the top and the weaving is done at the bottom. am only guessing but think that the holely wood being feed into the machine encodes the pattern that ends up appearing the the material being weaved.

Again back into the car and onto elephant falls. These were quite big with lots of water. Took a trail down to its base. As can be seen in the photos lots of water spray was getting shot up into the air. As a result was getting wet even though I wasnt so close to the falls.

Spent some time climbing on the slippery boulder (happy I had shooes not thongs) and would really have like to explore around the rocks a lot more but needed more time, a water proof bag and change of clothes. Could also actually get really close to the bottom of the falls but beside getting soaked, the pressure from the water made me think it might be dangerous trying to go behind. Not sure though since while I get wet I didnt want toi get drenched so didnt get close enough to the falls to check.

Back at the top of the falls was also a pagoda and around the back of the temple a big blue happy buddha statue. Also found an interesting sea dragon turtle an dragon statue out the front.

From here headed back to town with one more stop at a coffee farm. It appears that like indonesia which has cat processed coffee, vietnam has weasle processed coffe. That is the weasles eat the fruit (quite addictive), shit out the seed and then (guess its cleaned and) the coffee bean is processed.

Given all the places I visted today it defiantely seems like the area is geared towards agricultural production.

Now wait. Thats not all. Prior to the tour finishing also visted the old train station that was for the trains that use to run to Dalat and Crazy House. So named for the style of architecture which had tree like looking building and stairs + paths connecting them. definately not a kid or drunk friendly place since the paths can be narrow and if you lost your balance you would be falling to the ground.

Building were Ok and rooms looked cozy enough (can be rented) but the best bit was the view. From atop the tallest building had some nice views back towards the town.

After the tour wandered the streets and found some nice 50c Vietnamese rolls as well as 25c sugar glazed popcorn.

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