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Friday, November 23, 2007

Dalat & Nhe Trang

We we rounded off our tour of Southern 'Nam with the two villages of Nhe Trang and Dalat.

Dalat is a mountain village that was built by the French as a sort of vacation spot for the French occupationalist soldiers. It definitely has a french appeal with little chateaus and french architectural buildings everywhere. We decided to book a city tour here and covered the sites in one day. We went to a world famous meditation temple overlooking a very picturesque valley. From there we went to the old King's mountain cottage, which again looked more like some kind a pad straight out of the 60s. It was built in the 1930s, and our guide reminded us that when it was built the Vietnamese people were starving in the street. Also interesting is that the royal family left in 1946 and none of them have return, choosing instead to live in Paris.

After lunch we went to a hill tribe village where we met the chief. He spoke to us in incomprehensible English, and shared his stash of village hooch. Sarah wouldn't drink it because we were sharing the same straw, but it tasted pretty good, like a sweet after dinner wine.

From there we took the day bus to Nhe Trang, which took 6 hours to cover 200 kilometers. Also on this trip and in Dalat we met an Australian guy and his Taiwanese girlfriend--Cameron and Sherry. Cameron had been living in Taiwan for 2 1/2 years and was pretty fluent in Chinese, both reading and speaking, a fact that Sarah and I found fascinating--it's a pretty difficult language for westerners, the tones make it tricky.

The highlight of Nhe Trang was the mud bath and spa. We spent the day first soaking in some kind of mineral mud then bathing in natural spring water--it was very relaxing.

The next day we went on a four island cruise which was completely forgettable except when the ship guys sang us all songs. They sang a song for each nationality that was present on the boat. They didn't know an American song so they decided on one from the Beatles. They said "England and USA are same same". Also, on the one beach we went to we saw this extremely drunk English guy have a fight with a beach chair--the chair won. We caught up with the guy later and it looked like he had been canned across the back, he was also unable to walk straight, but the Vietnamese guides seemed to be taking care of him.

We flew from Nhe Trang to Hanoi due to typhoons and typhoon activity on the central coast. Cameron and Sherry were on our plane which was pretty cool and we ended up traveling with them for about two weeks altogether. We also found out that while in Nhe Trang, Cameron had been robbed. Someone took about USD$500 from out of his bag in his hotel room. He filed a police report, but the police seemed more interested in pinning the whole thing on Sherry and this made her very upset! They were very happy to get on the plane to Ha Noi.

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