Disappointing Dalat

Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
Trip End Dec 24, 2008

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The central highlands town of Dalat, promised us stunnning French style buildings that surrounded a lake with green rolling hills and pine forests. All we found were persistantly annoying, not so 'EZ rider', touts trying to sign you up for a motorbike trip, constant power cuts, dirty streets, rain, crappy restaurants and a lake surrounded with plastic rubbish.

We left the town on the next bus and just after leaving I read about the experience of the first Lonely Planet author to visit Dalat, in the late 1980's when tourism in Vietnam was just starting. I have pinched some of it for you to enjoy:

Dalat, word on the street had it that anyone who could produce the body of a missing American serviceman would get to go to America. Other rumours spoke of large amounts of cash on offer for dead GIs. I was one of the first Americans anyone had seen in Dalat in a very long time, and so it was to me that gruesome proposals were made. All I could do was refer these local 'entrepreneurs' to the American MIA team then combing the country for remains. I knew too, that the human remains in question almost certainly belonged to one of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese MIAs, perhaps passed off to a local 'investigator' by an unscrupulous wheeler-dealer who had salted a pile of bone fragments with a US Army dog tag to make it look authentic.

Pet shop on a motorbike Kat at the stop and go cafe The hidden Dalat

It wasn't all totally miserable, in-fact we had a pleasant two hours in Dalat. First a visit to the 'stop and go' cafe which was in the living room of an old Vietnamese painter and Zen buddist who told us jokes and offered Kat flowers before disapearing and reapearing with a tray of cakes and tea for us. Then after a walk around the lake where finally four km out of town we caught a glance of the promised French villas, far in the distance.

Cooper Out, back to the beach.

Love Dan & Kat
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