6.15.11 - 6.17.11 27 °C
Dalat is located about 7 hours north of Saigon, and is a small “European” type town. The local Lat tribes/Vietnamese folks had been living there forevers but then some french dude came along and “discovered” it about 100 years ago and called it “Le Petit Paris” or Little Paris. That’s so dumb. Because of this there is a strong european influence that can be seen in the architecture and in the various sites that well cater to foreigners.
Dalat’s climate is surrounded by mountains that is reminiscent of Seattle and Yellowstone National Park, with lots of green and deep valleys. This keeps Dalat much cooler than the scorching weather we experienced in Saigon (which was hotter than Cambodia btw). Although there are a lot of tourist attractions within and around Dalat, it was impressive how much of its nature is preserved. It hasn’t become polluted and trashed like we’ve seen in many of the other cities we’ve visited so far. Dalat with Koh Kong close behind it was our favorite destination so far b/c of the tranquility and fresh air it provided. We packed everything in a one day tour (only $5.50/person) – a great value since this included transportation (no rigged taxi meters), visiting 8 different sites, and entrance fees. This allowed us to relax and enjoy the experience instead of being on guard about getting ripped off or getting lost.
The hotel we stayed at was a bit away from the City Centre, but we didn’t mind that at all b/c we wanted to be away from the busy-ness. Worth it for a nicer spot. The hotel staff were the most helpful evers, arranging the tour for us, calling for our ride over to our next stop. I’d say this was the best hotel we’ve stayed at – except one dude (of course) had to go and ruin it at the very last minute. It would have been a practically perfect visit otherwise.
Keeping up with their customer service, the hotel insisted on helping with our bags AND waiting the entire time at the bus stop as we waited to go to our next city. The luggage/bellhop person tried to engage in conversation with us which was fine, up until – “So, do you have a boyfriend?” This is so typical in heteronormative conversation starters/gettin to know folks – so ppl don’t think twice about asking or answering. Not cool for me and K – b/c that assumption is oppressive, and in this specific instance in my mind – “wtf do u wanna kno for and isn’t this inappropriate for u to ask a hotel guest/customer?” K and I turned to eachother, thrown off/upset about the question and tryin to figure out how to respond. We both just told him “no” hoping that he would drop it and move onto another topic. Instead he persisted with “really? why not?” aarrrgghh. I was like “we’re just not interested” with which he looked a bit confused for a sec, but then sensed the akwardness and started looking around hard for the bus that was late. We hated it. In that moment we felt closeted, uncomfortable, when throughout our time in Dalat we were happy, peaceful, and out.
Aside from that bad experience though, it was a wonderful visit. So beautiful!