We definitely packed a lot into our time in Da Lat. Here are a few things we did around town…
Our first stop was to Lang Biang Mountain. Legend says that the name Lan Biang was derived from the name of a couple who were deeply in love with each other – the boy K’lang and the girl Biang. They fell in love after he saved her from a fierce pack of wolves. They weren’t allowed to get married due to a long-standing feud between their tribes. There are several versions of how it ends, but suffice it to say that it is something like Romeo and Juliet and they both end up dead but the tribes united in sorrow from that day on and from the graves of the two lovers two giant mountains grew.
Our driver dropped us at the bottom of the mountain and well all jumped in a Russian UAET Jeep and took a 10-15 minute drive up the mountain. Apparently you can also walk, but that took more time than we had. The strangest sight was horses with dyed stripes, thus resembling zebras. Once at the top of the mountain we were able to look over the entire region. It was a bit cloudy, but we still got peek-a-boo views of the city and hills. Ray paid 10,000 dong (about $.50) to hold an eagle. I haven’t been able to determine the exact kid of bird, so if anyone out there knows, feel free to chime in (pics are below). We stopped at a food stall and tried a bite of ostrich and alligator. We all agreed that the alligator ruled.
After Lang Biang, we went to another mountain top (Vé Cáp Treo) and took a gondola from one hill, across a valley, and ended up on another hill at a monastery. The monastery was a very peaceful place and had amazing gardens. There is one tree in particular that we have only seen in Da Lat and is very different from anything we have ever seen. It is called the bottle brush tree. I am not sure what kind of nectar this tree produces, but the hornets that buzz around the flowers are the size of small rodents! I got close enough to snap a picture and then ran away.
We finished up the day by buying dinner for the whole family back at the farm. Well, we contributed anyway. You just never know what you are getting into when you have interpreters (Lee and Snow) doing all the talking. We ended up with a hot pot soup and a few other dishes, some of which were tasty and some of which I would not miss if I never saw again. Snow’s dad also gave Ray and I a shot of his homemade “medicine” whiskey, which was surprisingly smooth.
On our last day, after we said goodbye to the farm and headed to an overnight in Da Lat, our driver (Mr. Hai) made time to stop at a temple tiled entirely with broken bowls. He wasn’t sure if we’d make it to Da Lat again and didn’t want us to miss this temple. What made this temple unique is that you could climb all the way to the top of the temple, or heaven. Then, you could make your way to the basement and go through what felt like a haunted house to get a glimpse of hell! Someone definitely had fun constructing hell – every surface was covered with paper mache demons, implements of torture, and decapitated, starving humans. Red and blue lights flashed around dark corners and a spooky voice echoed through the twisting labyrinth.
In the city of Da Lat, we visited “Crazy House.” This is not only an architectural tourist attraction, but also a guesthouse where you can spend the night in one of three tree houses. You can walk all around and on top of the buildings, although there is some definite lack of building code going on here and I am guessing that might end at some point in the future.
We wrapped up our last night with a trip to the night market to buy snacks for the bus ride to Ho Chi Minh City the next day. Ray and I stopped off for some German black beer while Lee and Snow took the kids to pizza. It was a win-win for everyone!
Next stop… HCMC!
Unidentified eagle at Lang Biang summit.
Ray and his new eagle friend.
Great defense system on this plant. Snow’s dad said that getting stung by one of these plants causes immense pain.
Hornet on the bottle brush tree flower. I think that getting stung by this hornet would cause immense pain!
Tiled dragon pillars.
Another view of Crazy House.