During our 11 days exploring the south of Vietnam, we have been humbled and captivated by the feelings the geography and history have brought out in us. The city of DaLat, located in the Vietnamese central highlands, offered a temperate escape from the heat and humidity of the coast.
The city still maintains much of the French investments made before the country’s independence. Large colonial style villas are scattered throughout the hilly landscape and the comfort with which the city blends pre- and post-war architectural styles eased the low-frequency guilt we have been feeling linger somewhere in our subconscious as Americans in this beautiful land.
The city’s mountainous terrain provided some exciting outdoorsing with canyoning and climbing excursions and a day tour of the countryside kept us awed with the diverse industries and religious sites. Between sampling some of the most expensive coffee in the world (where a certain species of weasel consumes only the finest, raw coffee beans, defecates and farmers diligently collect, dry and clean the feces for package and sale); snacking on dried crickets with 80 proof rice-wine chasers; strolling through the flower greenhouses; seeing the entire silk-production cycle (worms, cocoons, and all); and the peaceful, Buddhist gardens at Linh An Tu Pagoda; we were swept up by the bustling beauty of the region. Our hikes took us through and under thundering waterfalls set in the dense forests where just being within 50 yards of the falls was enough to drench you.
In the evenings we would snack on delicious street food kebabs and pancakes cooked up by local vendors in the town square, and then climb and drink our way through the maze-like, Lewis Carroll inspired bar stretching 6 stories in the so-called Crazy House school of architecture.
Everything we have loved about Vietnam had a place in this inland escape from the bustle of the beach towns.