We have now arrived in the mountain town of Dalat. In the week since I last wrote, we've traveled from Hanoi to Hue, Hoi-An and Nha Trang, for the most part on some pretty hairy sleeper buses. In Hue, we only stayed for the night, and visited some beautiful tombs. Hoi-An is a very quaint, picturesque little town, full of tailors, where we sampled some pretty awespme patisseries. Nha Trang is a beach city, where we decided we needed a bit of TLC after much lugging of backpacks and little sleep, and booked a day at a mud spa and drank cocktails, and followed that up with a party on the beach that night. We've met some really interesting people on this leg of the trip.
The city of Dalat isn't really much to look at - although the drive from Nha Trang was spectacular. Mountains appeared out of nowhere and waterfalls cascaded down the rocks. Parts of the highway were missing which should have been worrying but at this point I think we're getting used to the insanity of the Vietnamese roads. The city is nestled in between rolling hills and higher peaks. We decided that this should be the place to try out the infamous Vietnamese motorbiking.
So yesterday, we headed out with our hotel manager, Mr Rot, and his family, and sped off into the countryside to visit the minority village where he was born. We did have a few stops along the way, the most interesting of which was a cricket farm, where Maz sampled a cricket (or two). I conveniently reverted back to vegetarianism for that occasion. Apparantly it tastes like pork. At the village we sat for awhile with a local family, who spoke with us about their lives and what they do. One woman told us a really heartbreaking story. In the village, it is the daughter's family who purchases a man to become her husband. The healthier the man, the more expensive he is. She had fallen in love with a man that her family couldn't afford. They ended up having five children, and he came to live in her house. This caused her family great shame, because they hadn't bought him. Eventually though, the man's family sold him to another girl, and he was taken away. She now says that she will never have enough money to buy him back, and that she never wants to be married. She is only 32. Throughout all of this story telling though, the women were laughing and joking, and the children ran around happily. They found it especially hilarious when we tried to say a few words in their language.
That evening we sampled some of the local entertainment and witnessed some traditional vietnamese singing before heading out to play pool (at which I was predictably horrific).
Today we are especially proud of ourselves because we have climbed a mountain, Liang Biang. Oh yes. It was 2300 meters high, extremely steep and I did nearly die several times on the way up. Unfortunately I think there may be photographic evidence of this. It was fairly jungle like, and for once the sun came out and it was really hot. Typical. The view from the top was stunning, we could see the rolling hills for miles around, and also gloat about how far we'd climbed. The guide asked us if we wanted to climb up a second mountain and I think we nearly collapsed.
Tomorrow we are off to Saigon, our final stop before heading over to Malaysia on Friday. Very excited!