09.07.2016 – 13.07.2016
I don’t think Dalat liked us one bit, especially Nathan. During our 4 nights here, a bus driver dropped his bag in Vietnam juice (an awful smelling substance found lingering in gutters, similar to old fish), he got food poisoning on the one night we went out for dinner and we got terribly lost in the jungle whilst attacked by leeches. Our feelings towards Dalat were saved only by our hostel owners, Luu and Amy. They treat every one of their guests as family, and there home cooking was to die for!
Dalat is a long journey from Hoi An, 12 hours to Nha Trang and then another 4 hours to Dalat. Many travelers stop in Nha Trang to break up the journey. Not us, we’re adventurous (and didnt hear rave reviews about the tourist town anyway). When we arrived in Dalat, our bus driver conveniently dropped Nathan’s bag in the gutter beside the road. The gutter was full of filthy water and half his bag and its contents smelt of rotten fish. It took us two days of washing and drying to remove the smell.
We were fortunate in that our hostel owners were incredibly supportive and generous. Luu and Amy own the Old House Hostel and treated us like family. You put your name on the whiteboard and tally when you have breakfast, dinner, drinks, laundry or hire a motorbike. Each day they put on breakfast ($1) and dinner ($2) for their guests. Every night, dinner turns into a wonderful night of travelers sharing their stories and experiences with each other. It really was a great place to stay. Facilities may not be first class (i.e no lock on the bathroom door, and one shower and toilet for 30 guests), or even close to, but the feeling in the hostel it awesome.
Initially, we only wanted to stay three nights. So after getting our bearings on the first afternoon we decided to get into the Dalat spirit and do something adventurous. Many companies in Dalat offer hiking, mountain biking, canyoning (abseiling down waterfalls) and rafting options. We decided to do a hiking and biking tour. The brief was to ride our bike for 1 hour to the base of Mount Langbiang (highest point in South Vietnam) and spend 2 hours hiking to the top. Then we’d do everything in reverse. Sounds simple enough, but we couldn’t have been more lost and scared if we tried. Our guide took a wrong turn and we spent the next 5 hours trekking through the Vietnam jungle with no path or end in sight. At times our guide was hacking away at scrub to forge a path and covered in leeches. Literally gripping the side of the mountain, walking over the top of the ridges. The jungle was full of spikey plants and slippery mud, holding onto grass leaves to pull us up the side, whilst being cut by thorns, we were exhausted!
We thought we would be those tourists on the news headlines “Australian Tourists lost in Vietnamise Jungle rescued after five days” We began to worry when he looked frightened and phone calls to his boss, that started quite friendly, became very heated. We were lost. As we neared 5 hours since the start of our ascent, we heard voices. We have never been so relieved. Our guide was so excited that he climbed the remainder of the mountain and left us behind literally climbing a rock face. Nathan pushing Biancas butt up the rockface, whilst balancing on a ledge himself! Makes our stomach turn just thinking about it.
Once at the top we spent the next 15 minutes removing leeches from our legs and feet. It had been an ordeal. To make matter worse, there was a perfectly walkable pathway, all the way to the bottom of the mountain. We worked out that the guide wanted to show us some of the farms at the base of the mountain, which was fine, but then couldn’t find his way back to the path, which actually turns into a road halfway down. He even had to audacity to ask us to please ride our bikes back to town when we got back to the base. We refused and took a cab back to town. Despite a few phones calls and groveling from the company we used, we refused to pay for our “adventure”.
Through all of this, Luu and Amy supported us. They found out that the company had sent a first time guide with us, and he was very inexperienced. Anyway, after a good night’s sleep and time spent tending to our wounds (Bianca’s legs were cut to pieces), we decided to take it easy on Day 3. In the morning we walked into town to explore the local markets and in the afternoon hired a scooter and cruised through the countryside in search of waterfalls. Only the rain halted our progress. For dinner we decided to go to “Chu”, after recommendations from other travelers. You get a searing hot block on which your cook meat (similar to Korean BBQ) and dinner was great, until midnight when Nathan felt the full force of food poisoning.
We were booked to go to Ho Chi Minh on the bus the next day, but had to postpone our travel by 24 hours to allow the food poisoning to pass. Other than the odd sniffle, we had not been sick in the 5 months since we left Australia. It was definetly a case of “bad things come in threes”. After three strikes and we left, but we enjoyed our stay in Dalat. It was very challenging. Although the town itself is a bit drab, there are loads of activities to do and our hostel more than made up for our negative experiences.
OUR FAVOURITE BITS
- Staying at the Old House Hostel. Luu and Amy were the most amazing owner’s we’ve met on our trip.
- Hiring a scooter and exploring the region surrounding Dalat. Stunning!
- When you come to Dalat, you come to be adventurous, we just ended up being more adventurous than we planned. There are so many activities to choose from that you can easily enjoy a few days here.
- Mount Langbiang is a great hike that you can do yourself! Highest point in the old South Vietnam.