Yes yes I know, I know, I said that I will write the next part of the story yesterday since it was late the day before and I was too tired to finish it up. And you all have been anxiously waiting for it. The fact is after a lovely meal last night we were invited for couple of glasses of fresh beer that cost 15 pence per glass. Surely noone can refuse an invitation like that. Of course those couple of glasses turned into couple more and then couple more and before we knew it we had travelled through 2 bars and were ordering buckets. Bucket is mixture of spirits and none spirits, usually rum with coke and vodka with orange and so on - they serve it in a bucket.
Anyway lets get back to Dalat
We arranged the tour to begin at 8.30am to give us plenty of time to get up, eat our breakfasts and then get on our way. To be fair neither of us slept that well, mainly because the room was heavily damp as there were no aircon not even a fan and eventually everything got slightly damp and moist, was not pleasant. We got up, and dressed up, ventured to the lobby. As we looked outside we noticed it was drissling with rain, not good....We decided to have our breakfast and then go and get changed, put some more clothes on to be warmer and put some jeans on to keep our legs warm. To be fair in after thought we both agreed that wearing just shorts would have been a lot better. There was three of us who decided to take the tour, me, Amy and our new friend Andres from Chilie. As we got back to lobby Huan - our main guide reassured, weather is ok, its raining in Dalat - that is normal, once we get out of the city it will stop. Yea....as we looked outside the rain had turned from drissle into torrential rain. Quality...
I can honestly say we did not have to worry about getting wet at all. The moment we stepped outside we were thoroughly, entirely, totally soaked through without a possibility of a single dry spot on the body - thus it could not get any worse - problem solved :)
Each one of us had their own motorbike driver with Huan being the main guide and he was driving with Andres. Amys drivers name was Viet - thats right from name VietNam the country and my driver was called Conan - indeed folks as in Conan the Barbarian (you know Arnold Swartzenneger, swoards, magic and warriors etc), except he was under my chin and skinny as stick :)
As we set off we all were wearing sun glasses. It was raining and we were wearing sun glasses.
Our first destination was the flower plant. On the way to Dalat you will notice valley after valley filled up with green houses from one edge of the valley to another edge of the valley. Dalat is renown for its flowers according to Huan and it provides 64% of the flowers in Vietnam, Huan reassured that flower farmers are making very good profit from this kind of business and are usually well off and highly regarded. He continued explaining that each flower had a meaning and a purpose as well as every color: red was color of love, yellow color of friendship and happyness, white for funerals, orange for good look and pink for wedding. The flowers are exported all over the country from Hanoi to Saigon. Huan gave us a brief tour of the plantation, whilst women were busy binding up the flowers for transport. Huan did mention that in each bunch there is 100 flowers and farmer makes something like $100 per bunch - however I cannot remember the figures. Amy didnt really come for a tour as she didnt want to slop through mud field so she stayed with Conan and he gave her more detailed information re flowers.
From there we continued to Coffee plantation, after about 10 minute ride we stopped at a field and Huan jumped off at plant and pointed - coffee. I swear to god he must've just stopped at random field and gave us a 'tour'. Nevertheless he explained that coffee in Vietnam is gathered once a year when it is raining and the rest of the time farmers just bum around and do nothing but make kids. As it comes out Vietnam is supposedly number two exporter of Coffee in the world and Huan again reassured that the coffee farmers make good amount of money out of their business. For some reason it seemed important for him to emphesize how well off the people were from various agricultural activities... After taking couple of pictures. trying out fresh coffee beans (yes you can eat the outer layerof the bean) we continued to the Rice wine factory.
Rice wine factory was a small place, this time Conan took over to explain us how rice wine is made. After the first filtering process the 'wine' achieves its alcoholic strength of 60% and is then further processed. He gave us each a sip of freshly made rice wine - it was burning and it was strong - warmed us right up. Amy did nooot like it, Andres consumed the greatest amount. After that we were led back to the front and they gave us the final product of rice wine, which was 40%, Amy didnt really like that either, I thought it was ok, bit sweet and defenately strong but ok. We all concluded that the wine is not the wine it is a spirit :) Then they offered as the fresh coffee from the local farm, which had a choclatty smell to it. Amy did not wish to drink it - they found it very strange Amy did not drink tea or coffee being English. As we were sipping away the delicious coffee Conan told us that there is also a special product that is made from rice wine called: Happy Water. What they do is put a snake or scorpion or even both into the bottle fill it up with rice wine and then you leave it to mature. The desired effect of this product is that it enhances your manhood and your sexual capabilities. In other words - viagra in a bottle. They offered me but I said Im fine, no complaints from Amy :)
After our small stop and warming up we continued. Next destination - silk worm factory.
As we were driving I chatted away with Conan about Dalat and himself. He gave me a very detailed outlook of what Dalat is all about, how they make money what he wants to do in future and such, I asked if he would like to leave Dalat he said no he likes it, he has never left Vietnam. Conan was going to go to china but the trip was cancelled due to weather and that was his extent of travelling. He was 22 years old, had no girlfriend - was still looking as he said. He asked about me and Amy and what I do. Told him I just finished university and I am Marine Biologist. He also explained to me why Dalat is called Honeymoon City. Because it rains so much here, couples stay indoor and all they do is bum bum = have sex. He gave me thumbs up and said - when you get married come to Dalat and stay in! Made me laugh. He also said that in next Valentines day I should buy Amy chocolate. He said that chocolate is very popular and very important in vietnam. When you give this as a gift on Valentines Day to your girl and when she tries it and it is sweet then you will have long love and if it is bitter then you have short love. If its bitter buy another chocolate, he said.
We arrived in Silk Factory and this was where Viet took over. He explained that the moth lays the egg and that from the moment that the cacoon is ready then there is only 10 days till new moth hatches so they only have 10 days to extract silk from it. What they do is place the cacoon in hot water so that silk gets loose and then they use machinery to extract silk from it. Now I would like to ask you all - how many meters of silk can you get from one cacoon? Anyone? Before reading you should put it into comment and then continue from here. The answer is you can get over 1000m of silk from a single cacoon. As Viet was saying they dont produce cacoons at this factory, the cacoons are brought here and they only extract the silk here. They work 12h-14h shifts and do it none stop. Hard core. Viet winked at two girls and said - you see those - they are my girl friends. We were not sure whether he meant real girlfriends or just female friends....
After the silk factory we went to see the Elephant Waterfall. I recomend you all go check out the pictures they are imense. As we approached the Waterfall Viet took over again. Viet asked me when am I going to marry Amy. I said tomorrow. He asked when did I meet Amy, I said yesterday. As Amy told me later Viet asked if Amy is married and when she said why not, to which Amy didnt know what to answer. Viet said we should get married as he is married and he is only 24, he got married when he was 22. It seems we get this quite few times, people asking if we are married if not then when if we dont know when then they say we should soon. Ok. We continued our way down to the waterfall, the trek was rather sharp, wet and slippery. It was slow going but we eventually got there. We got right under the waterfall. When I stood out of the cliff right under it, massive force of wind and water just gushed over me and standing there was like standing in the middle of typhoon. It was powerfull....and wet.
Just next to the waterfall was big smiling Buddah Pagoda. It was a enourmous porcelain Buddah and a temple which held another 5 massive Buddahs. We had a tour in the area and walked around in the Buddah garden. All 3 agreed that eventhough we were completly soaked and it was raining - it was ok.Other than that there was not much there, you've seen one Buddah - you've seen them all.
At this point it was clear that we were cold, wet and hungry. So we said - food! Conans said, we go eat just next to the Pagodal. He made sure we were ok to pay 40k dong for all the food and drinks, which we were ( commoon $2 ). So we were expecting couple of dishes. Then the lady started brining the food, before we realised the whole table was covered with food. There was pork, grilled pork. there was rice, deep fried prawns, small crabs, buljong(stock) with some cabbage, vegetables, boiled bamboo, chicken brawn, fried chicken, beef and noodles. Wooha. So we ate, a lot - I tried the crab, there were not much meat on it so I didnt like it. ate other meats, I did indeed like the chicken brawn. What they do is slice the chicken leg into many chops but the slices are like 2 inches thick and they contain bone and everything - yummy. When we ran out of rice they brought more. We ate so much and got so full that when we finished we were happy to go to sleep. We warmed up a little as well. Conan smiled and said - if you want more just ask.We didn't.
Eaten, slightly warmed up we were ready to go to penultimate destination - Minority village. And extra destination added by our guide Huan who said - just for you my friends, this will be for free. Right. What we did was drive 10 minutes into other small village (pop of 2500) and did not look authentic village. As Conan told me on the way to the village, the land was originally the minority peoples, but after the war, northern vietnamese decided to move them and build a new city there for normal vietnamese. Since it was raining and it was really just normal village street then there was nothing to see to be fair, there were folks hanging out at the doors, but it felt really awkward to take pictures. Huan was rather negative about minority people. He said that they get free electricity and free medical help also that they are dark skinned and upwards narrow noses. I looked at Huan - dude you are as dark as them, which I didnt tell him. He said that locals are very strong but also very stupid. In general he came across very derogatory towards the locals, making them out as if some working class retards. Government apparantly was trying to educate them but they didnt want to. But in over all I think it was simple heavy discrimination towards the minority people.
With that the main points of the tour were concluded and it was time to head back to Dalat and see the last spot - the crazy house. As we set off I asked Conan - how far is Dalat, he looked over his shoulder - 20km and set off. I am pretty sure every one of us is in agreement that those 20km were the coldest, longest and wettest 20km of our lives. Not only that Conans bike was slower than other two. So I lagged behind additional 10 minutes compared to others as it was struggeling with up hill road - and we were driving up hill. We stayed so back that at one point Amy and Viet stopped to wait for us. But as Amy later said, she thought Viet was simply just so cold from driving as he was just in flip flops. Amy could barly move as she was freezing so when they continued she just hugged Viet for some body heat. 20km later we arrived in Dalat and made our way to Crazy house. By this moment the rain had intensified even further and when we got off we were stiff, wet, cold, tired and cold and wet and tired and stiff. Proper.
Crazy house is a house build in a shape of a tree with stair cases going in every direction including in the house, outside of the house and on top of the house. rooms were like small corner rooms. All showers were locked so we couldnt use them. Damn. I think after wondering around in the house for about 15 minutes all 3 of us decided its time to call it a day and go home. We got back to our bikes and could see that even our drivers were soaked by now.
Conan how far is out hotel
lets go then.
We arrived back at the hotel around 3 oclock, without any further notice I paid the drivers, got off the bike and made my way to our room. Amy came in a minute later, we undressed all our clothes into a pile after which I put shorts on and gathered all wet clothes and took them upstairs. The land lady was more than happy to wash them and get them back to us for 9 oclock dry and clean. After that was done only problem was our trainers which were completly soaked by now. We scavanged for some old news papers and filled the trainers. After that - it was shower time, we had 25 minute shower, emptying the entire boiler. We got dressed and went to sleep.
We woke up couple of hourse after that, at around 5 oclock. Amy stayed in bed bit more I went upstairs, where I met Andres. He said all his clothes are wet and he has no warm clothes. He then shortly after managed to get a jumper from the Hotel Lady.
At that point Dalat lost electricity.
Entire street went dark, in the hotel everything as if died and became dark. Quality. I made my way back down to Amy and woke her up. At first she didnt believe me that electricity was gone, but after she saw me getting out the wind up torch (thank you Linda for getting us one!) she accepted it. No electricity, no food. We decided that its best to just put jumpers on and shorts and flip flops, skin dries fast and so do flip flops. And see if we can get any food on the street. Street food is cooked on wooden fire and such so it shouldnt be a problem. All 3 of us ventured to the town.
Some of the shops had lights on and we though oh electricity must be back but then we learned that the electricity was coming from diesel generators. However as we were approaching the city center, more and more shops were getting their electricity back. A joint decision was made to go and drink some hot chocolate to warm up and have some food so we went to Chocolate Cafe. We ordered hot chocolate and cheese burger, soup and beef steak. Dalat is not really good for food, quality was rather poor. Burger wasn't completly cooked so I had to ask them to cook it another 5 mintes.
After food we went to the supermarket as we needed to buy some snacks for the trip to Saigon. As we were browsing through the shelves we noticed kids running upstairs and Andres asked - whats there? So we went and checked it out - it came out it was the Arcades that were upstairs. Jackpot!
One coint costed 2500 dong and we bought 10 each. We decided to finish one game no matter what. After shooting for about an hour we had gather quite a crowd of locals around us who were all watching our progress. Unfortunately we ran out of coins just before the last mission and we were too lazy to get more so we gave up. We spent few hours in the arcade and then finally made our way back to the hotel.
To our pleasure the electricity was restored and things were back to normal. Me and Amy went and packed our bags for the next day and came back to play some cards. Played a bit of s***heads, then I tought them estonian card game that both Amy and Andres found very interesting - to translate the name of the game into the english - the Idiot - who ever loses is the idiot. Amy was the idiot.
We made our way to Saigon the next day, but thats in the next chapter.