Aug 23, 1996
I have memories of growing up. A tank went through the American embassies gates. I always thought Vietnamese people were not nice in the 70's because of this. As we headed towards Dalat, it was amazing to see the people getting on with their lives. The majority of older people had pushbikes. Whatever could go on a pushy, they would put on it. I was still fascinated by the ducks and chickens hanging over both sides of the bike. Even better were the cages on the back, which had pigs in them. We stopped once for food, and beggars were coming up to us. These people were the leftovers from war. Even a legless man came. Quite sad. We arrived in Dalat, grabbed a hotel and had a walk around. Big difference in temperature here. We were higher in the mountains. The following morning, at the Peace café, we organised a tour of the surrounding areas on motorbike. First was Crazy House. This is a hotel that has been built by the ex presidents daughter. Looks like she has taken loads of drugs and then let her mind go wild. Each room has mirrors on the ceiling and is designed in the way of an animal from a country. Eagle means US. Kangaroo means Australia, and so on. We moved onto the waterfall at the bottom of the hill. This was cool. You can walk down the slope and on behind the curtain of water. Next was Chicken village. Named because there is a huge concrete chicken with 6 spurs on one side. Typically Vietnamese style, as much as they have no money, they have a TV though. We then went to a huge field where there was a Buddhist temple and we had a chat with the Monk there. Moving back to the town, we saw the copy of the Eiffel tower, the lake where the Vietnamese like to honeymoon and the train station with the old trains. By this stage, we realised that this was a fantastic way of seeing places, so we decided to rent the bikes and riders and get them to take us to Nha Trang. That evening, we had a quick walk around the markets. These were nice and we bought some local goods. The next morning, they loaded the bikes up with our backpacks and away we went. First stop was Dragon Pagoda. Outside, was a huge Dragon that was built out of beer bottles. We stopped off at a green tea factory, a coffee factory and then some Cham towers. They were similar in style to Cambodian, from what I had seen in pictures. They were the first really old thing we had seen. Just before lunch, we stopped at another pagoda. This pagoda was built out of seashells. Here were the 12 doors to see if you were a good Buddhist. If you can negotiate the doors, you will be enlightened. If you don't. you go to hell. Our guide led us in. He had the only torch, and then he ran away from us. We fumbled our way through, cutting our heads in the process. Eventually, we made it out. We were told that we were good people !!!!! We stopped off at a local blacksmiths along the way before we settled in for the night. The hotel complex was crappy and overpriced here. Lucy spat the dummy out, which was fair, and we got a lower price. We had dinner with another couple next door. Food was good but there were rats running everywhere. Next morning, we were up at 6 and on the bikes. We went to another village, and just to make sure we were awake, we were shown how they make fish sauce. In these rooms, the hairs on my nostrils were singed. Then onto a traditional bakery where we were given freshly baked bread. We kept riding. All along the way, people were either growing or picking rice. The next factory was a rice paper factory. This was good as well. Our last stop before Nha Trang was a mango seller. Our guide grabbed on and cut it up .Whilst Lucy was eating it, she thought she saw something move. The guide said it was nothing. Only on closer examination did she see the maggots. They were inside her now. Lookout. On the way into Nha Trang was a huge Buddha which overlooked everywhere, we would need to look at this later.