Da Lat, Vietnam

The Cooler Highlands


7/28/20234 min read

As you can see from the photo above, Da Lat was a real change from the city.. I knew before I arrived that it would be cooler than the city, given it is up in the highlands area, but I wasn't prepared for it to be quite as cool as it was (around 18deg) - especially since I am having to travel with just one bag, and it's filled with clothes suited to warm places! The scenery was undoubtedly beautiful - and I immediately thought of the soldiers that would have fought in the dense jungle over parts of the country in the war - but between the grey skies and the subsequent rain and thunderstorms for the 2 days I was here, I wasn't really feeling it.

Luckily though, I got a solid half-day of fine weather after my first night here, so I got up early and made the most of it.

Being as hilly as it is, with the main growers-markets situated at the bottom of the hill from where I was staying, I got in a great walk - zig-zagging up and down all the little streets on the way to and from the markets. These markets are listed in the top 10 of things to do here, so of course I had to go and have a look. The fact that Vietnam is such a fertile growing environment for literally all of mother-natures finest, means the markets are just a massive display of colour. I discovered that this is a nation that eats meat and or noodles for breakfast, not the fruit and yoghurt bowls I have grown accustomed to, so my only option for breakfast was a little bag of fresh fruit I bought. Some grapes that seemed almost as big as golf balls and the most delicious fresh cherries. And if I lived here, some of the flowers for sale most certainly would have been coming home with me! The blue chrysanthemums in this pic below are REAL! Behind the street stalls there's an indoor hall lined with about 50 stands selling dried fruits and vegetables and the colours there are just as vibrant.

No modern shopping malls or high fashion stores here, which was a pleasant change, and added to the more-authentic-feel of the city. I did, however, have to include a picture of a stand of heavily embellished Crocs.. EVERYONE here wears them!!!

There's a large lake at the bottom of the hill, near the markets and as you enter town, and lots of people were out in the little paddle boats for hire.

After the markets, I called a Grab and headed out to the XQ embroidery house (more info below with pics) - and spotted the 'Love Gardens' over the road while I was there, so went in for a look. It's ACRES of beautifully manicured flower gardens, and from the entrance you can look over to the other side of the city and see row upon row of growing sheds, no doubt housing many of the things I found at the markets. Aside from the gardens though, there were several historical buildings to visit, like an ancient meeting house, and old school room, and a couple of historic timber homes (just like the ones we would have in NZ that the early-settlers lived in) They were interesting, and the woodworking detail was impressive. Then completely out of the blue - there were other very notable and very 'random' things to find in a landscaped garden. 1/ A wax museum?! (see below) 2/ weird fake animals dotted around the place in large groups (elephant pictured below. Pink flamingos, deer, tigers etc etc not pictured πŸ˜† 3/ Replicas of the worlds most famous landmarks all clustered together at one end of the gardens. Hmm. I have included the Taj Mahal, Us Congress building and Christ the Redeemer from Brazil, as I will not be visiting any of those countries on this journey.. but I've saved the others in my camera roll to compare to the real things when I get there ✈️

I tasted my very first Pho for dinner here and it was absolutely delicious! I went back the second night to the same place for a chicken and rice soup that was equally as good, and for lunch I had eaten the best Bahn Mi I had ever tried, and was grinning to myself that I was eating an actual authentic Vietnamese dish, in the country of origin. I'm learning that those little moments are such a buzz while traveling πŸ’•

The Famed Da Lat Markets...

Typical Da Lat Scenes ...

The Love Garden ...

Random Waxheads ...

It was things like this that made 'The Love Gardens' even cheesier lol - but decided to pop these guys in here. Up close I think Trump looked more like Gerard Depardieu. Tay-tay was probably the best of the lot (there were about 20 figures all-up, inside a building at the top of the gardens). Wills and Kate missed the mark a bit.. and I think the mice have been at Slys' hair?!.

XQ Embroidery House and Historic Village ...

Considering there were signs everywhere in here, I did well to get these pics (oops, my camera button must have slipped?!... I only managed to 'accidentally' get two snaps of the embroidery, and while they're not things I'd hang in my house, you have to believe me when I say the skill and time that would have been involved in making these would have been phenomenal. The attention to detail was absolutely incredible - and many of the works have been done on silk cloth. Amazing! The phoenix pictured is solid gold and from what I could gather, the pot is a super ancient artifact that was gifted to the city.