Day 1 of the Tour of the Central Highlands of Vietnam – From Dalat to Lak Lake
At 9am Phu and Tam collected us at our Dalat Hotel and started with a tour of local attractions. First of all they dropped us at a cable car which took us across a green vallley to Vietnam’s largest pagoda which stands on Paradise Lake.
Phu met us at the cable car arrival point and strolled around with us before joining Tam at the vehicle and driving to Chicken Village where a group of what he describes as ‘minority people’ live in severe poverty beneath an enormous concrete chicken.
We continued on beyond Dalat and visited a silk factory and were shown how the silkworm makes a cocoon which is then boiled and the remains of the cocoon provide the threads of silk which are turned into scarves, etc. Two beautiful silk scarves from the factory shop cost 40,000 Dong each (a mere $3US).
Elephant Falls was the next stop which is an impressive waterfall. We then followed small lanes through coffee plantations. As we were still within easy reach of Dalat we ran into travellers at every stop who were taking day excursions with Easy Riders. Every one of them raved about the experience. For lunch we stopped at a little shack overlooking stunning scenery. It was truly a local’s haunt with a great selection of stir fry dishes with vegetables and rice costing less than $2US per head. The hygiene of this place and many others we would visit later appeared questionable but neither of us were sick from dining at such places daily throughout our visit.
The beautiful rural scenery continued with buffalos playing in the rice fields and cow herds being led along the roads. We stopped at a tiny chopstick making concern and were shown how these utensils are created from bamboo.
Arriving at Lak Lake
At 5pm we entered the town next to Lak Lake where we were held up by a couple of elephants in the street. Not wild ones but ones owned by a local businessman hoping to offer rides to tourists. The Khu Dulich Holak holiday complex was our home for the night. It had long houses available which are like huge barns shared by any number of people and private rooms for just $10US per night. In the future this beautiful place right on the lake could well be renovated and turned into a luxury holiday complex charging ten times that amount so make the most of it while you can.
The complex has a restaurant which floats and is tied to the land by ropes. Occasionally it breaks free and has to be rescued and returned to its mooring spot. Great food but go easy on the rice wine!