Friday 19th August, 2016
Em and I woke up bright and early to get to the travel agents by 7.45am. After a taxi ride and 2 minibuses to the coach station, we got on the coach at 10am and arrived in Da Lat by around 6pm.
We had arrived just in time for dinner at Cozy Nook, a lovely family-run hostel.
Once we had popped our things in the dorm, we joined lots of other friendly faces at the hostel around a long wooden table filled with delicious home-cooked food.
After a chat with a girl who had been raving about the ‘Secret Tour’ that she had been on that day, we booked onto it for the next day.
Saturday 20th August
We met our Secret Tour crew, Keith, Guto and Iwan at breakfast and our lives were changed forever when we met Ron, our tour guide, at 8.30am.
If you ever find yourself at Cozy Nook, please promise me that you’ll book yourselves onto the Secret Tour because he is one of the most hilarious people that you will ever meet and you will honestly be laughing from start to finish.
He took a real shine to Keith 😉
At our first stop, he took us to a phone shop, told us that his cousin owned it and made us hold hands in a circle outside and jump with one leg in the circle at a time. We weren’t really sure where this was going until he started going, “Oppa Gangnam Style!”
The phone shop wasn’t really owned by his cousin and that obviously wasn’t what we were there to see.
Our first visit was to a cricket farm where we were given a dish of fried crickets and some really strong alcohol that it’s usually accompanied by.
I’m usually ok with eating weird food, I eat chickens feet, intestines and all kinds of seafood, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat a fried cricket. Maybe because it was whole?
Anyway, I tried a cricket leg (pathetic, I know) and it just tasted very deep-fried.
Keith and Guto were much braver!
Next up, we visited a local market where Ron introduced us to lots of delicious local delicacies and at every stall, he would go, “This is my favourite!” so either he has an unlimited zest for life or he was a cold blooded liar.
He also showed us how much he loved Keith…
The Elephant Waterfalls were also very impressive!
Throughout the day, Ron had also given us nicknames that had no significance to anything that we had said, done or resembled. (Apart from Keith who looked like Michael Jackson, apparently…)
From left to right: Putin, Lady Gaga, Adele (YES, I BLOODY LOVE ADELE), Ron (absolute legend), Michael Jackson and Borat.
We were also shown around a Silkworm Factory where we were shown how silk was produced.
The worms wriggle around in their cocoons in the hot water and the women swiftly string up the silk threads onto the machines.
On our way to lunch, we stopped off on the side of the road where Ron showed us the gorgeous views and versatility of curry pods.
I got a bit muddy at the Elephant Waterfalls, I didn’t get chocolate all over myself…
Ron had organised lunch for us on a family’s front porch in a minority village.
They cooked us some delicious vermicelli with vegetables and tofu and we had some exotic fruit for dessert.
The next part of the tour was a real eye-opener and the ‘secret’ part of the tour so I won’t give it away but definitely go check it out for yourselves if you’re ever in Da Lat 😉
My favourite Ron quotes of the day included:
Ron: “What’s your room number?”
Me: “I’m not sure…”
Ron: “Don’t worry, I’ll kill you later.”
Later on at lunch…
Me: “I like this sauce”.
Ron: “I like your friend, Lady Gaga”. *puts his arm around Em*
After we had been dropped off back at the home-stay, we had a short rest and dinner together at the Bakery Restaurant.
The menu was excellent.
After dinner, we headed to the only bar in Da Lat, 100 Rooves, until they closed at midnight.
Evidently, Da Lat isn’t PARTY CENTRAL but it is still awesome.
Sunday 21st August
The next morning, Em and I got picked up at 8am to do a casual 17km trek through the jungle with our lovely tour guide.
I feel terrible that I’ve forgotten his name but he was great!
Once we had reached the top, we made our own delicious Banh Mi with fresh ingredients that he had bought from the local market that morning.
Evidently, I am not a Banh-Mi making professional but it did taste delicious!
We also had fresh mangoes and pineapple, SO YUM!
Unfortunately, a leech decided that my ankle would be a perfect spot to set up camp which majorly freaked me out as I thought it was just a bit of dirt on my ankle until I realized that it was moving, stuck in my ankle and drawing out blood. Luckily, our guide was calm and dealt with it with much more grace than I could manage. After taking the leech out, he put a leaf on it to soak up the blood. MMM SEXY.
Although we were exhausted, we decided to make the most of our final day in Da Lat by visiting the Crazy House, also known as one of the strangest buildings in the world.
I read that this place resembles what would happen if Gaudi met Tolkien and they dropped acid together, which I’d say is a pretty accurate description.
Back at the hostel, we had another delicious home-cooked meal and played card games with some new Cozy Nook members.
I recognised a girl but thought that it was just because she had accidentally walked into our room before dinner. However, it turned out that I must have seen her on Facebook because she was one of my university flatmate’s best friends! Such a small world!
Hi Frankie, if you’re reading this 😉
That brings me to an end to our wonderful time in Da Lat, see you soon in Nha Trang!