Da Lat (part three) – hanging out with Couch Surfers

Due to rather poor weather, we were actually planning to leave Da Lat as soon as possible but it turned out that all the tickets to Nha Trang (coastal resort) were sold out. We were planning to go for a walk around the lake near the market and then take a bus to the Robin Hill and take a cable car to the Truc Lam Pagoda set picturesquely at Tuyen Lake. Alas, it was not meant to be.

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Our plan for the day was a walk along the lake

UNEXPECTED REUNION

After wandering around the unexciting lake in a persistent drizzle we decided to go to a large supermarket to get some supplies. Just as we were getting inside somebody jumped on Sayak’s back. It was the Italian guy we met a week earlier in a hotel in Can Tho. It’s a small world.

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Dubious attractions around Da Lat lake

Stefano invited us to his Couch Surfing den where he and other surfers were preparing a lunch together. We promised we’d go there promptly after shopping. Stefano stayed far away from the city centre, quite near to the bus station. As we didn’t want to come empty-handed, Sayak brought three beers and I bought a dozen deep fried bananas.

KOREAN CUISINE MASTER CLASS

We didn’t expect to see that many people there. Around a dozen of travellers from all over the world were working hand in hand preparing kimmari– Korean version of spring rolls. We had to chop various ingredients into tiny pieces and then stuck cooked rice on seaweed paper sheets. We’d then put whatever filling we fancied, roll it all up tightly and cut in thick slices.

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Making Korean food in Vietnam? Why not?

It took ages until we could have a first bite but then we ended up with the amount far too big to cope with. In the meantime, we had lots of interesting conversations with the entire group.

DA LAT BY NIGHT

After we finished, two of the girls decided to have a walk with us to the market. As we were approaching the market, we heard very loud drumming. We followed the noise until we saw a teenage brass band performing just above the market. And what a performance it was! The band played very lively tunes which made everyone’s feet itch. They combined the music with a funny, synchronised choreography, making for a very entertaining show.

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Junior brass orchestra show

Just as they finished, it started raining again. We waited under the roof for a while and then took the girls to our favourite place: a very popular stall with lots of children- size tables and chairs.

It was located in a small alley above the market and filled with young locals, who were having a good time drinking hot plant-based milks rather than beer. It was heaven for me: black sesame milk, soya milk, peanut milk-  delicious, filling and protein packed.

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Relishing hot plant milk

We missed the bus and missed the chance to see the lake-view pagoda but gained the opportunity to socialise which didn’t happen that often during our travel.

PRACTICALITIES

How to get to Da Lat?
Da Lat is one of the stops on the open bus ticket.

The nearest sleeper bus destinations are: Nha Trang (3-4h), Mui Ne (4h), Buon Ma Thuot in Central Highlands (6h) and Ho Chi Minh City (8h).

Prices [in Vietnamese dong as of July 2018]

200 000 accommodation (large but old room with a window), weekend price
180 000 accommodation (AC room with no window), weekday price
50 000 entrance to the Crazy House
30-40 000 meal at com chay (vegan)
25 000 5 litre water bottle
20 000 large bag of red puffed rice
10 000 hot soya milk
10 000 Dalat pizza
10 000 roasted sweet potato from the street
10 000 poncho
8 000 city bus
8 000 coconut pancake
2 500 deep fried sweet

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