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Vietnam

Canyoning in Đà Lạt

Hello from Đà Lạt!

Đà Lạt is a great place in Vietnam, the last time I visited it was end of January (read my previous adventure here)
Now it’s more rainy, but that didn’t spoil the fun.

I did some different things this time which was really nice.
Although i stayed at the same hostel (Dalat Family Hostel) which is a absolute must-do on your trip to Dalat.
They moved locations so now they are able to fit more travelers, without losing the real “family” feeling.

When we arrived Mama Đà Lạt gave us a big hug and immediately ushered us over to the dinner table where there was more food than the actual table could handle.
I ate more in the last two days in Dalat than in the previous week in Vietnam 😉

Mama dalat makes really nice food

We were pretty tired by the long journey from Mui Ne, so after a well deserved beer we went to bed (The beds are excellent in this hostel!)

Day 1: Canyoning with VietChallenge

Canyoning, if you have never done this before, it’s really awesome. Basically it’s going down a track in some barren territory (preferably downstream) and on the way down you’ll abseil down some cliffs or waterfalls.

Waterfalls dalat canyoning
Me abseiling down a cliff into a waterfall

After checking all the equipment and getting explaination on how to abseil down the cliffs we set off into the jungle. We did three waterfalls in total and a cliff-jump from 7 and 11 meters. There was also a natural water slide along the way.  After which we got a mini-van back to Mama and the food was already prepared when we got there, and as per the usual was really lovely and more than you could muster to eat.

Day 2: A day in Dalat

First off we went into town by foot. That takes about 30~40 minutes but you can see a variety of things along the way, and you’ll get a nice impression of how the Vietnamese people live. The first sightseeing spot was the crazy house and as the name states, is pretty crazy, really weird architecture.

On the roof of the crazy house in Dalat

After that we went to the central market for some food and seeing the place bustling with activity.

Must-do’s in Dalat:

 

Now we are off to Hoi An via Nha Trang!

Mui Ne (Revisited)

Hello fellow travelers and faithfull readers,

I’m back in Mui Ne! Read my previous post here

At the start of the day or the previous night over a few beers i usually plan one day ahead.

The 5th of June looked like this:

  • Visit the Red dunes
  • Visit the white dunes
  • Chill out at Malibu beach
  • Checkout “The Fairy stream”

Unfortunatly things will never go as planned…

General tips for travelers in Vietnam (Every tip leads to a great story)

  • First off: haggle haggle haggle
    This isn’t the “west” (insert Australia, USA or any country in Europe here)
    Prices aren’t fixed and deals are there to be made. The magic word is No thank you.
    As in:

    • No thanks, I got a better price elsewhere (They will probably lower the price)
    • No thanks, I still have to think about it.
  • Always carry a 2nd wallet in case the police stops you (read on to find out why)
  • Parking a scooter should mostly be free of charge, unless it’s a private property
  • Swimming in the sea is always free (The ocean cannot be privatised!)
    If somebody is trying to sell you tickets… you got a great story to tell (or write about in your blog)

 

Tip 1: Haggle and know your prices

So at the start of the day, me and Anna decided to rent a scooter and go to see the great things Mui ne has to offer.
First up: Malibu beach! (insert old picture of Malibu from February)

Remember, all rivers and beaches in Vietnam are always free! If somebody is trying to sell you tickets, there must be something wrong (It’s a trap / scam!).

Only… there was something new about the road leading to the beach. A fence! But i just scooted onwards and didn’t pay much attention until some guy started yelling and drove after us.
Turned out that he was selling… I kid you not… “Swimming in the sea tickets” for VND 20.000 per person!

Well after that we laughed, said “No thanks!” turned around and continued our way (500 meter away was a FREE beach access)

Then the next point of interest: The red dunes in Mui ne.

Red dunes in Mui ne

Parking! Parking! Parking! all the guys shouted, park here, park here.
Usually that means paying, most of the times you don’t even know what the price is (you’ll find out afterwards)

What’s wrong with that spot i asked (and pointed to a parking spot at the other side of the road where all the hawkers, vendors and locals parked their scooters)
Oh no, glass and maybe you’ll get stuck in the sand. “I’ll take the risk” i replied.
Without any harm to the scooter we had a nice stroll on the Red dunes.

PRO TIP: Don’t rent a sand-sled from the kids, they really don’t really. Better spend that money on the good stuff!

We continued our way on to the white dunes (about 20km North from Mui Ne map link)

Tip 2: Carry a 2nd wallet in case the police stops you.

So we were cruising along on our little scooter, when all of a sudden there are 3 guys sitting under a tree.
(Uh oh, Police) But just be polite, act nice and nothing will happen. we didn’t do anything wrong anyway and i have my international drivers license.
Which is or isn’t valid in Vietnam, i was about to find out.

The rather unfriendly police-officer stopped me and asked “Where you from?” so i said in my best Vietnamese I’m from Holland…
Drivers license!” he replied! So i gave my International drivers license.
After checking my license he switched tactic, you were speeding!
But.. Mr. Police officer, if you ever read this:

1. you had no laser-gun, only a batton to hit me with.
2. no police car followed me to check my speed.
3. The speed limit out of city limits is 60km/h (Both you and I know this)

Still he insisted i clocked 46km/h (which might be true i drove around 45/50 km/h)
And he pointed me to a book which had a fine from 1.000.000VND – 2.500.000VND *Vietnamese law!*
Well… probably the law also states that that’s within city borders and that i should get a receipt and my speed should be correctly measured but ok.

I didn’t have a million dong on me. He was oh so generous and made it into 500.000VND I didn’t have that on me neither…
He settled for 300.000VND (15$ or 12 Euro) and thanked me afterwards, ensured it was in my best interest (road safety my *ss!)

Well.. then it was on for the White dunes. Nothing special if you ask me, just a good excuse for renting out Quads and Jeeps.
But here is a picture of the infamous white dunes anyway!

White dunes in Mũi Ne

 

The fairy stream was really cool, except for the sunburn we both got from driving and walking in the sun all day.

Anna at the end of the fairy stream

PRO TIP 2: Use sunscreen and loads of it, always have some extra around when you go on a tour or doing activities on a scooter or walking.Then it was just relaxing and chilling by the pool in our excellent hostel Mui ne Backpacker village

after dinner a stroll on the beach, and now the rain comes pouring down in
The beachfront isn’t anything special unfortunately, more trash and filth than anyone would like to see…

Now it’s off to Dalat!

Mekong Delta with singing Minh

​Woke up at 7:00 had a brekkie. Then got to the bus at 8:30. Our tour guide and some other vietnamse passengers did some acapella songs though the bus mic.
Now it’s of to the first stop: a 200 year old pagoda. The Vinh Trang Pagoda.
Then went on the bus, gone to the Coconuts candy factory. Had lunch after a quick horse ride. Then saw a competitive battle of catfish catching. Then into another boat to go to honey tea and we held a boa constrictor. 

The pose wasn’t my idea…

Then into the traditional canoes. 

Look at these Vietnamese hats!

Then we had some fruit with traditional music (our tour guide joined as well) the last song was if you’re happy and you know it… clap your hands.
Back in the boat… got a monsoon on our head. And back in the bus. Then it was time for the biggest surprise of the day.. the hotel: excellent. Fast WiFi, shower and a bed!
After some beers and a delicious Beef (Bó) BBQ with a lovely pepper sauce it was time for bed.
Day 2: started off with the biggest confusing breakfast ever. I didn’t quite catch what the options were… so I went like: noodles?!? And our waiter was like: Noodles! And I was like: Noodles?!? And so we got noodles instead the rest of the restaurant which all got fried eggs…
Then I was dying for some coffee. So in my best Vietnamese I ordered two black coffees, only forgot to add the word for Hot. So we got ice coffee instead…
Let’s see how the rest of the day will shape up. Our singing tour guide Minh will come pick us up any minute (7:00)
So after a short bus-trip, we got into the boat and got squashed like canned sardines… there isn’t much legroom and mandatory swim vests aren’t helping for the comfort level.

Swim vests on! All cramped in the boat

But after a short trip we arrived at the biggest floating market in Vietnam. All boats had their anchor buoy replaced by the items they sell (sweet potato, durian, pineapple ect.)
After that we went to a rice noodle factory to see how they are made. They cook 80% rice powder with 20% starch, then they make a flimsy pancake which dries in the sun for 5hours then gets cut up to Noodles.
Went back on the boat to go to a local restaurant/ weird farm. Where they sold frogs, rat, pigeon, snake and other local delights. But… pretty common on this trip, we weren’t really sure what we where doing from 9:30 – 10:30 early lunch?!? 

Ever tried frogs from a Vietnamese BBQ?!?

Now we are Oscar Mike (On the move) again in our little snug fit boat.
Basically to go and have real lunch and keep faffing around until the bus shows up… 
Now (13:00) we are on the way back to HCM city.
Ready to pickup laundry and on to the next adventure… Mũi Ne!