Beaches, Mountains, and Rain
11.01.2012 28 °C
We were able to travel from Saigon to an awesome little beach town called Mui Ne by Sleeper bus. Too cool. Mike wishes you get could seats like that on airplanes. (Please don't tell him that for the price of his right arm, he could).
Mui Ne is the "adrenaline capital of Vietnam". They have crazy wind and surf there. When the tide was high, the waves would crash over the 10 ft retaining wall at our resort.
The sky was full of Kite Surfers - very entertaining to watch. Mac was in awe, and vowed to return one day to partake in the fun.
This time around however, he was satisfied with wind surfing, and managed to get out for a couple of lessons.
Now, of course, he needs one for Tagish.
We also went sliding on the sand dunes,
where Megan made a couple of friends. This is how tall 12 year olds are in Vietnam - they thought Meg was a giant!
We also got our kicks swimming in the tremendous surf. The day before we were leaving, I finally worked up the courage to try boogey boarding. I waited for the biggest wave of the year, 40 ft high at least, and went for it. Within seconds, I was turning summersaults in the water, and eating sand off the ocean floor. When flow of blood from my nose finally ebbed, I was grateful for two things: 1) My neck wasn't broken, and 2) Bobbi wasn't watching!
I was a little hesitant to leave the beach for the cooler mountains, but was drawn by the promise of "Little Paris of Vietnam". Da Lat certainly delivered on that promise. Sadly, rather than a sleeper bus to take us up into the mountains, there was an overcrowded, rust bucket to travel the winding, bumpy, dusty road. I think it took us 5 or 6 hours to travel about 265 kms NOT including the stop to fix the transmission. ( It's amazing what a Vietnamese bus driver can do with a single wrench.) We all loved Dalat immediately. Mac because of the pine trees that reminded him of home, Meg because she was put in charge of Christmas decorations at our guest house, and Mike because of the community breakfast table at our guest house, that enabled him to lounge for hours over breakfast visiting with the other guests. As for myself, I got to bake Christmas cookies!
The kids were relieved that Santa managed to find them among the Buddhists of Vietnam. Mac didn't even mind that Santa stuffed his gifts into his dad's smelly old sock.
Aside from the cookies, we all helped cook Christmas dinner, which we shared with the other hotel guests at the Christmas party. It was the next best thing to Christmas at home.
Da Lat is also the home of the "Crazy House", which is technically a hotel, but in reality giant playground filled with narrow winding staircases, hidden passages, and secret themed rooms. It's like being in Alice's Wonderland. It was designed by a local architect with a wild imagination. Pictures can't begin to capture the whimsical feel to this place (but I'll put a couple in nonetheless)
Speaking of whimsical, we found a gravity fed roller coaster to play on as well. The rider controlled the brake release, and gravity did the rest. No loopdy-loops, but well worth the $2 fee.
The fun didn't stop there either. At the bottom of the roller coaster, was a lovely waterfall. And, as if that wasn't enough, there was a cable car and a funky outdoor glass elevator to take you through a canyon to yet another waterfall. The icing on the cake was that you merely had to hop back on the roller coaster to be pulled back up to where you started. I gotta tell ya, Mike was in heaven - it was best 'hiking' day of his life. I believe he called it 'hiking for gimps'.
We took yet another cable car (didn't I tell you this place was great?), to the most beautifully landscaped monastery that I've ever seen. It was set on a mountain side overlooking a lake. I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking...
Mac and I also managed to get away for a mountain bike ride. I think we were both relieved that there were two of us and two guides, because one of us just couldn't keep up. It was beautiful riding along old dirt roads and mountain trails that overlooked both wilderness and farm land. In this part of Vietnam, they farm everything from broccoli to rice to roses to strawberries. I thought of the Duelings the entire time, and was happy that Derek wasn't there to put me to shame climbing some of the hills.
OMG, I almost forgot to tell you about the kids trying to kill me by taking me canyoning. We abseiled down cliffs, repelled through waterfalls, jumped off other cliffs, and slid down natural rock water slides. I've never been so terrified in my life! Thank the lord Megan was there, as I thought it would be poor form to have an emotional meltdown knowing that she was as scared as I was. It makes me laugh (now that it's over) to think that they actually take novices, young and old, to places like this. We did it with a young couple from our hotel, and at one point everyone was to chicken to go first, so I sucked it up and volunteered. The guide said, and I quote "oh sure, let the old lady go first"! He also said (afterwards of course), that sometimes when people get partway down a cliff/waterfall, they start crying and cursing him, but there's nothing for them to do but continue down! I'm happy to say that I did it all, and happier to say that I'll never do it again
Our time in Da Lat came to an end all too soon. There was so much to do there, we just couldn't fit it all in. In a last ditch effort to see a bit more, we turned our ride to the airport into a mini tour, and stopped at a silk farm,
and a grimy old brewery where they were trying to pass off pure rubbing alcohol as rice wine. If I seem a bit brain damaged next time you see me, you'll know why.
Our final stop in Vietnam was the much anticipated tailor capitol of the world - Hoi An. I thought I'd have to reign Meg in, but I was the one who lost control. Once we found a tailor shop we liked, I just couldn't stop myself. I'm going to look so good next year! The weather was pretty rainy, so aside from tailoring and a couple of bike rides between the showers, there wasn't much to do, so hang in there, I'm almost done!
So that's about it for Vietnam - whew!
Oh goody, now I get to tell you about my Malaysian resort...