Monday, February 20, 2006

Our Journey up to Dalat

Dalat (Stream of the Lat People - a tribal group in the Central Highlands) is a cool escape for the hot and bothered Saigon urbanite. Its the Vietnamese Cameron Highlands complete with rolling hills of tea and coffee plantations and Swiss cottages dotting the greenery (with the air-con turned up a little more). This Valley of Love has been a romantic getaway for the locals ever since Swiss immunologist, Dr Alexandre Yersin, chanced upon it in 1893. Reminded of his Swiss home, he encouraged the government to build a resort town, particularly in Dankia with a focus on health spas. The elegant hotel that was soon built, and the lakes and waterfalls added to the element of romance although today, the 'romantic' elements may appear to some as cheesy. (Read upcoming updates for evidence)

You can fly up to Dalat but at only about 300 km from Ho Chi Min City, the journey takes only 5 hours by car. So we hired one and had the most adventurous ride in our lives. Can we survive the harrowing ride? Its an incessant beeping of car horns and zooming-ahead-before-the-oncoming-traffic hits you! Its like the N-S Malaysian highway, with narrower roads. But we did survive...

Besides little towns and rice plantations, the journey out of Ho Chi Min City surprised us with a string of beautiful churches seen every other kilometre or so on the highway up to Dalat. Some were designed like temples while others were of a modern design but all were large. Who enters these hallowed gates we wondered, besides the school children milling on their grounds?

Some sources claim that Vietnam comes second, after the Philippines, in having the highest number of Catholic followers in Southeast Asia. Read more about the history of Catholicism in Vietnam.

Strange sights greet us further on our journey - huge granite boulders bulge out onto the road. Houses were built around these ancient rocks, almost hugging them.

More about Dalat and its scenery can be found in these sites but somehow i couldn't find these scenic views on site. Hmmmm....

Huy Thien & Trung Viet. (2004) Dalat - City of Eternal Spring. Viet Bach

Dalat. WikiTravel.

(Note: The trip up to Dalat was taken in October 2005 when we were on official leave. The story is only being published now as the pix were stuck in another computer. Enjoy the next few retrospective entries)


At 8:13 am, Blogger Dragon said...

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