Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Around Da Lat on a scooter

There’s a lot to see and do around Da Lat. That’s why we rented scooters to explore the city and its surrounding area during three days with the children. The first excursion takes us to the village of Nam Ban, 30 kilometers from the city. The girls ride with their father, while Loïc, my son, climbs with me on the bike.  Along the way, the scenery is beautiful but, soon, works on the road make the driveway rather impracticable. Yet, we manage to ride through mud and gravels and reach our first stop after an hour's drive. It starts raining heavily and we’re just in time to find shelter in a silk factory, which gives us the opportunity of a very interesting visit. The visit stretches for two hours while it’s pouring rain outside. As the rain finally stops, we resume driving, only a few miles to the Elephant waterfalls.  Due to the heavy rain, the falls are really impressive, with loads of brown water storming down the rocks.
Impressive waterfalls
Fortunately, we are not alone on this tour and Aron and Sandra, the German friends who accompany us, lend a hand to help our children follow the trail down to a viewpoint. 
Thanks Aron and Sandra, for helping the children down!
Back up the trail, we walk a few hundred meters more to see a quiet temple, known as the Happy Buddha Temple, which dominates the valley and the falls.
The happy buddha temple
Now it is about time to drive back to town, in order to arrive safely before nightfall. Alas, a new tropical downpour forces us to take refuge in a cafe. A few hours later, it's still raining and it got dark...

Finally, we leave our scooters in the local coffeeshop and arrange a pickup by minivan. A much better option for the children, who are now tired and fall immediately asleep in the van.

The next day, children stay at the hotel, while we, adults, take a local bus to Nam Ban to recover the bikes. The first stretch of road back to town is really nice, and what a pleasure to ride alone for once, without children on the bike! We even take a short break in the middle of a coffee plantation to enjoy a "weasel coffee" - guess what that is. But soon, the sky darkens again, and we ride the last ten kilometers under heavy rain. We are lucky to have left the children safe and dry at the hotel!
Before the rain...
In the afternoon, we take the children back on our bikes to visit the Summer Palace of Emperor Bao Dai, close by the city center. It is a beautiful art deco residence, slightly faded but pleasant. The kids have great fun exploring the bed- and bathrooms of princes and princesses.

We continue our tour with a visit of the historic train station of Da Lat, just in time to see the ancient train arrive in the station. We end the day with a delicious meal in a vegetarian restaurant. It is already time to say goodbye to our German friends, leaving Da Lat to Saigon the next day.


Aron and Sandra enjoyed traveling with children, who are so prompt to marvel the wonders of this world.

Additional information: Scooter can be easily rented anywhere in town for about 5USD a day. Ask for the directions to get to the Elephant waterfalls, which are quite easy to reach from Da Lat.

Here is a link to Aron and Sandra's blog!