Monday, Jan. 4th (Da Lat Day 3)

  • Woke up around 8am feeling better after a night’s sleep on an actual mattress.
  • I went down to the lobby and tried to kill my head cold with several cups of complimentary steaming hot green tea.
  • Hung out with some fellow backpackers and did some writing while waiting for Cory to wake up and join me.
  • Cory came down the stairs just as the staff were putting out a complimentary lunch spread: fresh banana and papaya to start, followed by heaping plates of rice, noodles, eggs, and mixed vegetables.
  • We ate our fill then grabbed our motorbikes to check out Elephant Waterfall, 35km West of Da Lat.
  • The staff advised us not to drive in order to avoid the police, but we had decided early on that the occasional hit to our budget in the form of a police bribe was worth the experience of owning our own motorbikes.  (Plus we’d been lucky so far!)
  • The driving in and around Da Lat is incredible, and the ride West was no exception.  We took a winding highway that had been freshly blasted through the red-rock mountainside and continually overlooked the green valley below.
  • We arrived at Elephant Waterfall with no issues and enjoyed scrambling around the rocks to take in the view from different vantage points.
  • After, we checked out a temple that was just a couple minute’s walk up the hill from the waterfall.  In our opinion, these are the best temple visits.  The unexpected, middle-of-nowhere temples that blow you away with their size and intricate detail.
  • This temple in particular had some of the largest and most detailed dragon sculptures we’ve seen yet, snaking their way up the staircase to the open-air entrance.  Inside, we were the only two people amid a cavernous enclosure with massive multi-armed deities staring down at us from the periphery.  In the corner, a solitary monk sat cross legged in baby blue robes swinging a tree log pendulum against a giant iron bell in tune with his breathing exercises.
  • The drive back to Da Lat was even more enjoyable as we were more confident in the route and able to pick up our speed.
  • Arrived just in time for the nightly, communal family dinner at our hostel.  We sat at a huge table with more than 30 fellow backpackers and ate and laughed to our hearts content.
  • Spent the rest of the night hanging out, relaxing, reading, and writing until calling it a night just after Midnight.

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