06.02.2013 - 06.02.2013
View Great Escape to the East! on Tam-Jo's travel map.
Today was our Dalat Easy Rider tour. Ted and his colleague, Tai, met us early this morning to start our tour. As soon as we got on the bikes, we gladly realised that it would be a much more comfortable ride than our motorbike tour around the tombs in Hue. And the helmets we were given to wear were proper motorbike helmets...health and safety is clearly on the radar of Dalat Easy Riders. Yay!
First stop today was the Golden Budhha on top of a big hill here in Dalat. It's huge! And the views of the town from the top of the hill were amazing. It was here that Ted explained to us that the huge mansion type houses we could see all belonged to farmers, something which surprises even Vietnamese tourists in Dalat. The plentiful flower farms in Dalat make a lot more money than crop and rice farms elsewhere in the country. We also went into the Buddhist temple by the Golden Buddha. Inside it was decorated with mosaic which used glass bottle and crockery pieces. And outside the gardens were filled with bonsai trees. Very pretty.
The next stop was at a flower farm. Tai gave us a tour around this farm. This time of year is the busiest time for these farms as it is the lead up to Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated across Asia. The flowers from here are sent all over Vietnam and to neighbouring countries like Cambodia. We saw many boxes marked for the Mekong Delta!
Other stops on the tour included an old South Vietnam army base on top of a massive hill (which we had to walk up!), another flower farm, a silk worm farm, a silk factory, a waterfall where we did some "rock climbing" called Elephant Waterfall (from the top, the grassy rocks look like elephants), a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch and the Laughing Buddha temple. We also made random stops along the journey at view points to take photos and to see a bit of the local way of life. We stopped when Ted and Tai saw giant sacks of vegetales being hauled down a hill and getting packed into a truck. We were told these sacks could weigh up to 80kg and the men carrying them probably only weigh about 50kg! We also got to see some fishing in one of the rivers.
The penultimate stop was at a coffee producer just outside of Dalat which produces one of the famous coffees of the region, Weasel Coffee. So we had to try it! This coffee is made by feeding the coffee beans to weasels. The weasels then excrete this, the coffee beans are cleaned (we hope!) and then used to brew coffee in the normal way. It tasted strong! And bitter! And I don't think we'll be trying it again. We decided that it definitely wasn't worth the price (it's five times more expensive than regular coffee) so we'll stick to the cheap stuff from now on!
And the final stop was at a very unusual looking Catholic church...it had dragons on the roof!
It's an early start for us in the morning (a 7am bus to Mui Ne) so we've just grabbed some fresh baguettes from a road seller for dinner and will enjoy them whilst watching some movies tonight!