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VIETNAM DAY TWO

Posted in Interest, Life by thisisanexperiment on August 13, 2010

On Day Two of our Vietnam trip, we woke up bright and early to catch a 745am bus ride to Dalat. HCMC (at least in the backpackers district) is a city that sleeps late, and rises early. It was about 7am when we ventured out of our hostel, and the place was bustling with street food stalls, hawkers, and motorbikes everywhere.

Bracing ourselves for what we thought would be a 5-7 hours ride (it turned out to be 8), we grabbed a breakfast baguette & iced coffee combo right from a street stall opposite ‘The Sinh Tourist’. You can choose to take away your meal, or eat it on some plastic chairs facing the road, which is not a bad option for people-watching.

Their iced coffee remains the best one I had in my entire Vietnam trip. It’s bitter-sweet, with a slight nutty taste to it. The baguette is tasty & extremely filling- they basically fill it with meat, vegetables and a sauce, so it’s a good start to my day, especially at SGD2.50! Take that Subway!

We sat on the backrow of the bus to Dalat, which was a really unfortunate thing since it can be quite a bumpy ride up the mountain, and makes it a little difficult to get shuteye sometimes (although I have found that I have this talent of sleeping anywhere that’s relatively clean).

2 stops & 8 hours later, we arrived in Dalat. As a side note, I am happy to report that the toilets at the stop overs were very clean. The downside is that the stopover for lunch only had one option, which sucked and was a rip-off.

Dalat is supposedly known as the Little Paris/Europe of Vietnam. I suppose it’s called that more for its weather which, during the day, hovers at a PERFECT 20degrees celsius (although it gets colder at night). There, we stayed at the highly-recommended ‘My Dream Hotel’ which has 2 branches (Dreams 1 and Dreams 2).

The hostel owner is a friendly and trilingual lady (she speaks Vietnamese, English and French). The spacious hostel room we stayed in was originally meant for 2 but in reality, fit all 4 of us. The toilet is incredibly clean and honestly looked just like a hotel’s. It’s got a jacuzzi shower! And if you want, you can enquire about using the hostel’s hot tub. No pictures though, I was too bus weary.

Dalat’s cool climate means that taking a walk is not a sweaty ordeal, although one will get tired. If you don’t want to explore Dalat by foot, you can always directly rent a bike from the hostel. We checked out Dalat’s market on our first day there; if you’re interested, it’s not too bad, and it’s quite interesting seeing the live poultry, fish, and street food that lines the street. You don’t get that in Singapore anymore.

At night, we headed for dinner at another Lonely Planet recommendation- The Art Cafe. The name is derived from its owners artistic ambitions. The walls of the restaurant, with its prominent bamboo themed decor, is adorned by the owners’ artwork. The cafe is warm and inviting and serves fusion Vietnamese food. The mains are not particularly mindblowing, but the French Onion soup is spectacular. Under a layer of cheese hides a generous, salty, flavour-packed amount of onions. Likes. Very. Much.

Later, we hopped on our bikes and braved the winds for a round of hot drinks and traditional Viet Coffee at a Cafe near the market. A row of pubs/cafes with inviting atmosphere overlooks the slope, so have your pick of any one of them. Vietnamese coffee works by piling on your coffe powder into that simple steel contraption you see. Pour hot water in it, and allow your coffee to slowly drip into your cup. Add condensed milk and enjoy. Beware: it is extremely thick because of the use of condensed milk so make sure you have enough coffee to balance that out.

The day ended with a chilling windy ride through the town/city, back to our hostel. I have a video of it, perhaps I will upload it one day if I’m not too lazy. More to Come!

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