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To the Top of Da Lat

To the Top of Da Lat

Last week was full of heavy rain, copious amounts of schoolwork, and bouts of moderate homesickness.  I was stir crazy and waiting for a weekend excursion to Da Lat City.  Da Lat is located in Vietnam’s southern section of the Central Highlands.  The weather is cool year round, which was a much-needed break from the sweltering heat of the city.  The mist-covered valleys in Da Lat coin its name “City of eternal spring.”  Its mountain landscapes make it the perfect destination for the “outdoor adventurer.”

Getting to Da Lat was no smooth ride.  Our group of eight took an overnight bus on Thursday.  We rocked and sped our way down narrow and bumpy roads.  Kate, from Boston College, even said, “There were times I felt as though the bus was only on two wheels.”  Another classmate, who shall remain unnamed, may or may not have fallen off of the back seats at approximately 3am.  I even admit to motion sickness.  Sleep was impossible, so at 6am we arrived at the Da Lat bus station exhausted.   We made our way to the “Pink House” hotel, dropped off our bags, and didn’t return again until 5pm.

View of Da Lat City

On our day of exhaustion we took a cable car to a monastery in the city.  It was a hot tourist destination, but it was so beautiful I didn’t care.  Ariana and I hiked down to the lake, with minimal tourism, and even bought a few gifts for friends and family.  (If I told you what it was I would ruin it, so I will move on)  When we returned to the hotel we climbed a million stairs to the room and I passed out cold on my bed.  Will tried to ask how my day was, but I didn’t even hear him.  When I woke up it was dark and I was still in a trance of fatigue.  We had dinner, desert, and briefly explored the city.

Saturday was the best full day I have had in Vietnam.  I was captivated by everything and I was drowned by life moments.  Saturday, the girls and I took a full day hiking trip to Lang Biang Mountain.  After long showers and a quick rest, we ate dinner and joined the festivities at the Da Lat night market.  After the night market, we grabbed desert and sat together for about two hours.  I wouldn’t be able to put this entire day into words if I tried but I will share with you all of my highlights:

-quiet and cool air of Da Lat

-wild horses

-taking the trail less traveled

-waving at Asian tourists as they rode jeeps up the mountain

-beautiful bright red clay soil

-chirping birds, colorful butterflies, and bright green lizards

-the perfect way to get to know someone is on a hike, cheers to making new friends

-me “I can’t believe there aren’t many people” kate “except for ax murders”

-muddy shoes and no broken bones

Ariana and the biggest and loveliest tree of the day!

-climbing up 800 m. of only stairs to get to the peak

-back sweat

-eating a lunch of Ritz, peanut butter, Pringles, Oreos, and wine at the mountain peak

-a man making a phone call on the mountain peak

-I was afraid of falling down the stairs and Ariana says “Just stay low to the ground, if it looks slick, don’t be afraid to get those hands dirty”  I still fell, but it was nice encouragement

caked in mud

-we only spent $4 USD that day

-strawberry jam!

-rollerblades are a thing in Da Lat

-SO MANY CHILDREN

-Ashley made her first bargain at the market

-eating curry with ginger

-discussing the presidential election

-we were the only customers in the restaurant for dessert

-learning what the words to Gangam Stlye are in English

We leave for Cambodia this week.  Tuesday night we will make cookies for the children at an orphanage in Phnom Penh and watch the Killing Fields. Then on Wednesday morning we will make our way west.  Cambodia’s story is wrought with beauty as well as tragedy.  I am on the edge of my seat for what is in store.

Xin Chao,

Stephanie

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