Friday, Jan. 8th (Da Lat Day 7)

  • Woke up feeling refreshed and ready for another day of activity.
  • Spent the morning drinking green tea in the lobby and putting together our day plan.
  • As we were leaving the hostel, a Canadian girl asked if she could tag along on a rented scooter.  We agreed, though hesitantly.  It’s hard enough to keep track of 2 people on motorbikes in unfamiliar crowded streets.
  • She kept up for a few minutes but at the first major traffic circle we got separated and lost each other.  In Vietnam we stick to the pirate code: any (wo)man who falls behind… is left behind (unless you’re family!).
  • It’s a matter of safety.  Driving in Vietnam is challenging enough when you are fully focused on the road and navigation.  Doing circles looking for someone is just asking for trouble, not to mention the added risk of getting stopped by the police.
  • We waited on the side of the road for a few minutes but when she didn’t show up we decided to just continue on our way.
  • First stop was Linh Phuoc Pagoda, an amazing set of buildings decorated almost entirely with mosaic tiling.
  • Next was Tiger Cave Waterfall.  When we finally arrived, after forcing our bikes down an off-road path that Google Maps insisted on, we found the falls completely void of visitors.  We scrambled up a dry trail that had somehow formed right through the middle of the falls and took advantage of the privacy by skinny dipping in one of the intermediate pools.  No sooner had we put our clothes back on than another group from our hostel came barging into the clearing.  We were all smiles, secretly acknowledging the perfect timing.
  • Our third stop was Datanla Waterfall which turned out to be a kind of natural amusement park.  We paid 50K VND to ride a downhill roller coaster which was a lot of fun, but we ended up skipping a closer look at the water fall because it was mobbed by local Vietnamese tourists.
  • Our final stop was Truc Lam Pagoda, another amazing hill-top monastery, though heavily trafficked by Vietnamese tourists.  The whole complex overlooks a beautiful lake and somehow fits in perfectly with the coniferous forest reaching in all directions as far as the eye can see.
  • On our way back to Da Lat we stopped at Pini Coffee to try Weasel Coffee, a special type of bean that has passed through the digestive track of a native jungle weasel.  The enzymes from the weasel’s stomach apparently break down the proteins in the coffee bean in a way that can’t be achieved synthetically.
  • At 200K VND ($9) for a single espresso shot, it is by far the most expensive coffee we have ever had.  The grind itself was cooked 3 separate times in front of us using a labaratory beaker and an open flame before being poured into a single, preheated cup for us to share.
  • The verdict?  Highly caffeinated, flavourful, and lacking any of the harshness of ordinary coffee, but not something I would dish out $9 for on a regular basis.
  • Returned to the hostel for another communal family dinner and met up with a close family friend from Calgary, Emily, who also happened to be travelling in Vietnam and passing through Da Lat.
  • We celebrated with Saigon beer at the hostel before moving the party to 100 Roofs Cafe, the crazy rum/maze bar from my birthday.
  • Made it back to the hostel before 1am in good enough shape to hit the road to Nha Trang in the early morning.
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