Everyone had told us that to get to Dalat from Quang Ngai we had to get a night bus to Nha Trang and then change to get to Dalat, so that is what we set off doing. The old man that kept our bags for the day pulled over a bus to Nha Trang for us, it was a really nice bus, but we were sat right at the back surrounded by boxes so we didn't have much room and coundn't recline our seats, so we thought we were in for another bus ride with no sleep.
On the way to Nha Trang our bus had a toilet stop, while we were hanging around a man called Young came to talk to us. He was an easy rider (tour guide on motor bikes) from Dalat and was on a bus direct to Dalat. We told him that thats where we were heading, so he spoke to the drivers of both buses and we were able to swap. The bus wasn't as nice, but it was practically empty so we had a choice of seats and therefore got some sleep.
We arrived in Dalat around 6.00am and Young took us to his brothers hotel. We had a coffee with Young and he told us about all the different tours he does in Dalat and the rest of Vietnam. We then went to bed for a few hours. We were interested in doing a tour anyway after what Keeley and Aaron had told us about it, but wanted to see some of Dalat on our own first.
We got up arounf lunch time and went for something to eat. It had started raining, but not that heavily so we decided to walk to the reailwat station as it was the original building since the early 1900 and steam trains still ran from there, we intended to go on a ride to see the scenery around Dalat, however as we were walking up to the railway station the rain gradually got heavier and heavier and by the time we got there Matthew was completely drenched as his coat is only shower proof and this was no shower! Neither of us fancied spending the rest of the day in the pouring rain so we headed back to the hotel thinking what a waste of a day. It was really frustrating as we were running out of time in Vietnam and the bloody weather was getting in the way.
On the way back to the hotel Matthew spotted a $100 US note on the floor, it was really wet and neitehr of us had seen $100 before so we weren't sure if it was real or not. We proceeded to dry it out at the hotel and then went on the internet to seeif it compared to the real thing. I thought it was a fake as one of the marks didn't look quite right, but we kept it anyway just in case. We later found out from Young that it was a fake and that it was tradition at funerals in Vietnam for the realtives to throw fake money in the street so that it passes with the dead so they can live in the afterlife. We both got really laughed at and felt really stupid..oh well!
On our second day in dalat their was sunshine, we we made the most of it and went on a day tour with the easy riders. Young and his brother Jean took us all over Dalat. The bikes were definately to comfiest we had been on and we had a really good and very interesting day. We did all sorts, we visited flower farms as thats what Dalat is famous for, we then visited a rice wine factory, Vietnemese call it 'happy water', its really strong and really cheap ( awful stuff basically). We were shown how the wine is made from the rice and how resourceful they are as they are not allowed to cut down trees for wood so they use coffee shells as a substitute. The left over rice is then fed to the Yorkshire pigs, so no waste their either..and drunk, happy pigs! we then met some minority kids collecting food from the hills for their parents, we both tried to lift the baskets and they were really heavy for such small children.
On the ride around dalat we passed coffee plantations that smell nothing like roasted coffee, we visited a silkworm factory and learnt how they grew mushrooms. Basically southern Vietnam is a very resourceful and beautiful place with lots of land to grow goods to export.
Towards the end of the day we had an awful climb down to Elephant waterfall, it was really slippy as it had just been raining. The locals made it look really easy, although we did see some fall in a few times! The waterfall was good, but it was really busy as it was ladies day, so all the men stayed at home while the women had a day off. Once we had climbed back up the waterfall we were both very warm so stopped for a drink in the cafe and stripped off, this involved Matthew taking off his glasses to get his jumper off. After our drink it was back on the bikes to visit a silk factory. Young and i arrived a good 10 minutes before Matthew and Jean, we thought they had a problem with their bike, but oh no....Matthew realised once he was on the bike that things were a bit blury and he couldn't quite see clearly, he even had to touch his face to see if he had his glasses on and guess what, he had left them on the table in the cafe, he must have gone for about 10 minutes without his glasses before he realised, he is an idiot sometimes!
All in all we had a really good day and we learnt so much about the culture and way of life in Dalat. We had great food that was really cheap and had some really good views of Dalat, especially from the crazy house that was very like Gaudi. The whole day made us feel better about not seeing anything the day before. It was because we had such a great time that we decided to go with them to the cambodian border. They devised a route that involved 6 days on the bikes stopping off at Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta on the way. It meant that we were staying in Vietnam a bit longer than we had originally planned but we thought the experience would be too good to miss (although definately out of budget).
So the last part of our trip in Vietnam will all be done on the back of motorbikes.