Sunday, December 18, 2011

adventures in dalat: the edgy post

I have been thinking about how to approach the challenging task of how to share my Dalat experience with the world. Bottom line--the trip was breathtaking. I took hundreds of pictures and have just decided to compress everything into a slideshow so people can spend as much time as they please on my page. I may reuse some of the pics here in the discussion below, and some of the pics in the slideshow are from my previous post, so apologies for the redundancy.

I will begin by saying this--if Asian destination vacation has never been on your list and culture shock is not something you are excited to experience, I would suggest Dalat as a starting point to wean yourself into this neck of the woods. It is gorgeous, there are plenty of things to do, and the traffic/noise/pollution/confusion of HCMC or Hanoi virtually are nonexistent. However, there still remains good ol' Vietnamese charm. That being said, promoting tourism here is not exactly something I felt motivated to do after seeing the destruction that some of the construction of the resorts were causing. However, those rants will be saved for another post. I am going to split things up by talking about things I did and sights I saw in Dalat in this post and reserve discussion of research, birds, and environmental rants for the next.

Dalat was indeed a vacation. Although I did spend some days doing research work and meeting with the Embassy, most time was spent enjoying the fresh air, cool weather, and embracing the 'outdoorsy-ness' in me. Highlights included the following:

1) 15 km trek through the mountains and coffee plantations to Tiger Falls: that sentence basically says enough right there. Also, the trek emphasized the lack of exercise I have been experiencing in Vietnam. I have been yearning for a jog, but considering it is physically impossible both in terms of traffic and air pollution, my cardiovascular health is definitely sub-par. Needless to stay, it would have been a challenge either way due to the 80 degree slopes we encountered, shielding our eyes from the the overgrown razor grass covering the trail, and the flesh-eating fleas that managed to get inside my shirt. Words cannot describe the beauty of the place and often had to question to myself if this was actually a real experience.
coffee plantations

BTW- this is what coffee look like- you can bite the berry open and out pop two coffee beans, which is what they roast

nat geo material right here 
yes we crossed this bridge. and yes i did see my life flash before my eyes as i crossed over the wild rapids below.
but we made it over alive :)
north face ad material right here (except its a knockoff north face)
spider (larger than my head) moseying along to do his spidery things
2) Birdwatching: Considering I study birds, I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I have only formally been birdwatching one other time. Since I had time to kill, I jumped on the opportunity to tag along on one of the birdwatching trips led by Quang, an ornithologist at the CBD (his other job). I can say more about this in the next post, but it was nice to actually just sit back and enjoy the birds rather than thinking about science and research at all moments. Important lessons I learned from this trip: (a) a raincoat was the best investment I ever made before coming to Vietnam (b) I need a DSLR camera as well as a bunch of cool lenses that will total somewhere around $1,500 and (c) birds of Dalat make the coolest sounds and have the coolest feather patterns and it was just SO cool.
me birding out and feeling no shame
my pathetic picture of a barbet--likely one of the coolest, most beautiful birds i have ever seen
3) Tandem Biking around Xuom Huong Lake: Due to the fact that Dalat is such a hopelessly romantic city, it was hard to resist renting a bicycle built for two with An. We enjoyed the beautiful day frolicking around the lake and it was just adorable.

4) Motorbikes to the silk factory: I am sure from my previous post titled "motorcycle diaries--entry #1" you were probably expecting another entry. Well, confession: I own a motorbike and am often way too terrified to drive it in the traffic and have not had too many opportunities to practice. So I realized the advantage of the minimal traffic in Dalat and used this as my chance to get some quality motorbike experience under my belt. We rented motorbikes and took them out for a drive to a little silk factory (about an hour drive) through the mountains and it was incredible. Once again, words nor pictures will every be able to express how much fun this was but just take my word that it was amazing.
i mean--its hard to deny how cool i look...
I could talk about the silk factory and show pics but...I really don't feel like it. It was really cool and really interesting, but I'll have to make you sit through my slideshow to learn about it.  And I could keep going on and on about how incredible Dalat is, but I just wanted to highlight some of the soul-moving, eye-opening, breathtaking moments. And to highlight how edgy and awesome I look in my pictures.

No comments:

Post a Comment