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Halal Foods @ Da Lat, Vietnam

There aren’t many halal restaurants in Da Lat.

We found one by searching through Google, the name is Hoa Sen. Google said that it serves Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine (vegan thing is safer for us than merely just vegetarian). Moreover, we found that the restaurant is reviewed good by many people on Trip Advisor and become one of recommended restaurant by Trip Advisor.

We decided to go there for the first lunch we had in Da Lat. Good thing, the place wasn’t too far from where we stay. The first eating experience was nice too. So, we decided to stick to this restaurant ’till our last day in Da Lat.

We think Hoa Sen’s plus points are : not-boring-vegan foods (various type of foods), cheap price, and the place is easy to be reached.

The Opening hours are : 6 am – 2 pm, then 4 pm – 9 pm.

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Our first experience of eating here was good. Playing save, we ordered fried rice though. We had just arrived from long road trip from Mui Ne, so we need good meals. We also ordered tofu snacks. And, for the first time we tried the authentic iced vietnam black coffee and artichoke tea.  Everything was delicious. Anyway, they serves free tea when visitor ordered any kind of food.

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First eating : Lunch

We went around Da Lat for half day and came back to guesthouse at night. We took quite a long rest because we felt exhausted, also because it was rain outside. Sadly, when we finally went outside to eat… the restaurant had closed already. Not sure about eating another foods / entering another restaurants, we were starving that night. Da Lat is quite a small town. A lot of restaurant close at 9 pm. Not to mention about the halal thingy. The late nite restaurant isn’t vegan and or vegetarian type. It serves alcohol and another. For us, halal is a must, it can’t be bargained. So, we were coming back to guesthouse with empty stomach… We drank a lot of plain water, and ate left-over chips we bought from Mui Ne road. It was a long night, and we only wished for morning to come.

The first place we were heading to in the morning? Correct, the restaurant.

Now we want to try what locals eat for breakfast : Vietnamese Pho.

Pho is a hot noodle soup with various choice of toppings, served with vegetables. And since it was a vegan & vegetarian restaurants, there are loads of vegetables as side dish. No additional fees charged. We didn’t know it will be 2 big portions… we couldn’t finish it. Have should ordered one portion only for both of us. We also ordered side snacks made of mushroom and seaweed. It was strange (because we never tried that kind of food creation before) and nice at the same time. Like usual, they serves free tea when visitor ordered any kind of food.

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Second eating : Breakfast

We then went out to many places a whole day. And making sure that we weren’t late anymore for dinner. It was the last supper also, before we were going back to Ho Chi Minh City in the next morning. We ordered some rice because getting around the town made us very hungry, lol. Fried rice was ok, but funny thing came from chilli tofu rice. Their kind of chilli tofu rice = rice + 2 tofus + 2 small chillies. What? It wasn’t spicy at all of course. Growing up in spicy food environment of Indonesia made us surprised to find this food presentation, hehe. Just personal opinion. The deep-fried cauliflower was good though. We didn’t know that cauliflower can be cooked like that. We also ordered the authentic hot vietnam black coffee and hot chocolate. Oh ya, at first we were confused about how to use the vietnam drip aluminium thingy for the coffee. So we tried some ways. Local Da Lat people next to our table can’t help smiling and laughing of what we were doing. So we laughed also. Then they showed us the right way to use it, hehe. Funny moment 🙂

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Third eating : Dinner

So yeah, in general, we had a nice eating in Da Lat. A lot better than in Mui Ne, at least, where we can’t find any halal restaurant T_T Lucky us, our guesthouse owner, Julia, gave permission to use her kitchen and her food ingredients for us to cook. Read our story of finding halal foods at Mui Ne here.

Better than Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) because we finally can get a taste of vietnamese local foods in halal way here in Da Lat, while in HCMC we only found halal foods in either Indian restaurant or Malay restaurant. Read our story of eating halal foods at HCMC here.

Simple & important Glossary :

Com = rice
Mi = noodle
Chien = fried
Pho = noodle soup
Dau hu = tofu

Photo Challenge : Shadow

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

Photo was taken at Doi Hong (Red Sand Dunes), Mui Ne, Vietnam on 2016. It was a sunny day; we were holding each other hand on this strange new land.

***

There is an old saying :

“Don’t depend too much on anyone in this world because even your own shadow leaves you when you are in darkness.”

Indeed. Our shadow is Allah’s creation too. They just obeying their Rabb’s rule to not appearing before human sight in darkness. The Rabb wants human to realize that nothing ever last forever, except Him… to depend onto Him only, always, and forever. Allah, The Only Eternal One on Earth and Heaven.

Did you know? Every other things, besides human, have their own way of prostrating to Their Creator, Our Creator. Only we don’t always understand how they do it. It may be different than human’s way.

Yes, including our shadow .

QS. Al-Haj [22] : 18 

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَسْجُدُ لَهُۥ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَمَن فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَٱلشَّمْسُ وَٱلْقَمَرُ وَٱلنُّجُومُ وَٱلْجِبَالُ وَٱلشَّجَرُ وَٱلدَّوَآبُّ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ حَقَّ عَلَيْهِ ٱلْعَذَابُ ۗ وَمَن يُهِنِ ٱللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُۥ مِن مُّكْرِمٍ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَآءُ ۩

Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates - for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills. 
Apakah kamu tiada mengetahui, bahwa kepada Allah bersujud apa yang ada di langit, di bumi, matahari, bulan, bintang, gunung, pohon-pohonan, binatang-binatang yang melata dan sebagian besar daripada manusia? Dan banyak di antara manusia yang telah ditetapkan azab atasnya. Dan barangsiapa yang dihinakan Allah maka tidak seorangpun yang memuliakannya. Sesungguhnya Allah berbuat apa yang Dia kehendaki.

QS. Ar-Ra`d [13] : 15 

وَلِلَّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ طَوْعًا وَكَرْهًا وَظِلَٰلُهُم بِٱلْغُدُوِّ وَٱلْءَاصَالِ ۩

And to Allah prostrates whoever is within the heavens and the earth, willingly or by compulsion, and their shadows [as well] in the mornings and the afternoons.
Hanya kepada Allah-lah sujud (patuh) segala apa yang di langit dan di bumi, baik dengan kemauan sendiri ataupun terpaksa (dan sujud pula) bayang-bayangnya di waktu pagi dan petang hari.

QS. An-Nahl [16] : 48 

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ إِلَىٰ مَا خَلَقَ ٱللَّهُ مِن شَىْءٍ يَتَفَيَّؤُا۟ ظِلَٰلُهُۥ عَنِ ٱلْيَمِينِ وَٱلشَّمَآئِلِ سُجَّدًا لِّلَّهِ وَهُمْ دَٰخِرُونَ

Have they not considered what things Allah has created? Their shadows incline to the right and to the left, prostrating to Allah , while they are humble.
Dan apakah mereka tidak memperhatikan segala sesuatu yang telah diciptakan Allah yang bayangannya berbolak-balik ke kanan dan ke kiri dalam keadaan sujud kepada Allah, sedang mereka berendah diri?

QS. Al-‘Isra’ [17] : 44 

تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتُ ٱلسَّبْعُ وَٱلْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن مِّن شَىْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِۦ وَلَٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا

The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [ Allah ] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.
Langit yang tujuh, bumi dan semua yang ada di dalamnya bertasbih kepada Allah. Dan tak ada suatupun melainkan bertasbih dengan memuji-Nya, tetapi kamu sekalian tidak mengerti tasbih mereka. Sesungguhnya Dia adalah Maha Penyantun lagi Maha Pengampun.

So, if your own shadow leaves you in the darkness, don’t burden too much… Let it be. It’s its fate.

Find its real owner instead. The Owner of everything you had, The Owner of everything you lost. The Almighty God, Allah Subhanallahu Ta’ala.

That One is capable of doing anything, except leaving you… He loves too much, He won’t have a heart to leave / abandon / hurt you. To Allah belongs all the beautiful names. Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim, Al-Waduud. He is The Greatest Love of All

Being loved by Him makes you capable of loving the entire universe. People’s nonsense doesn’t burden your heart anymore.

via Photo Challenge: Shadow

Photo Challenge : Solitude

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

The photo was taken on a gentle morning at Doi Cat Trang (White Sand Dunes), Mui Ne, Vietnam on 2016. 

As much as I like having many friends, I also like being in solitude. Hanging around with myself, spending time with my own thoughts, having conversation with myself, contemplating; they nourished the soul. I build my own world, my own bubbles, my own garden inside my mind so I don’t need anyone else to be happy; for I have my own paradise in my heart.

Like everything else, solitude have two faces too. The enjoyable one and the horrible one. I have experienced solitude’s worst shade too. The one that suffocating: squeezing the oxygen around you, narrowing the walls until a room turn into your body size only. It’s a limbo. A world where no single sound can be heard, no other thing exist except you and the shade. Making it worse, in that very unbearable silent, you’re out of breath. At all.

But, I’ve finally found a way to make that worst shade of solitude become bearable : by putting my Rabb inside of it. Yes, Allah alone is enough to make huge difference. He is that Great. Allah, The Lord of Heaven and Earth; and i do not associate my Lord with anything else. Allah loves human-being 60 times greater than a mother love her child. Can you imagine a love 60 time greater than a mother’s love? Allah will never abandoned you as long as you never let go. Even if you let go first and repeatedly disobeyed Him, He will forgive you as long as you repent. Allah is The Most Forgiving of All. He will never dissapointed you. Allah is the Most Loving; the Greatest Love of All. He is my True Love. And so, in that limbo… I’m having the most beautiful love story I’ve ever had. With Allah : my Rabb, my Lord, my Only Guardian.

As much as I like having many friends, that’s why I still like being in solitude. Because without noise from people and dust from everyday life, I can have a more intimate conversation with my Rabb; it gives me a very content feeling. That’s how I know, Allah is the Best Companion ever.

“I probably still haven’t completely adapted to the world. I don’t know, I feel like this isn’t the real world. The people, the scene: they just don’t seem real to me.”

– Haruki Murakami

via Photo Challenge: Solitude

A lot of people gathered at town square

Chilling at Da Lat Town Square & The Only Supermarket in Town

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It was full moon. People of Da Lat were celebrating at town square until late at night, even the children.

We have no clue whether they were in school tomorrow or not, but in the area still a lot of children having fun with their parents, it was late at night (11 pm) and it was weekday…

Da Lat Town Square is also known as Lam Vien Square. It is around Xuan Huong Lake.

Lam Vien Square is wide, it’s a great place to relax, either at afternoon or at night. But it’s quite cold at night that even people use heater inside their cars instead of air conditioner.

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A lot of people gathered at town square

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#   There were Barongsai attractions on the square because it was full moon night.

#   Many street foods on the area.

#   Mini electric cars, also roller skates, ready for rental for kids.

Xuan Huong Lake has an area of 32 ha and the average depth of 1.5m. It is located on an elevation of 1.478m above sea level and it is considered as the heart of Dalat.

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Xuan Huong Lake at night

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On the side of Xuan Huong Lake, there are minivans full of lights. They sell pizza.

Okay, it’s Vietnam kind of food trucks.

There were a lot of youngster ‘hangout’ at that place.

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

The big yellow lotus building on the left is coffee shop. The green flower building on the right is Big C Supermarket; its entrance is in the bottom around the crowd.

As the only supermarket in town, plus located at the town square, Big C Supermarket always full of crowd. It also the good place to find souvenirs to be brought back home.

There are various kind of Vietnam’s coffee here, also artichoke tea as the authentic tra (= tea) of Da Lat. Various kind of fruit sweets can be a good choice too. We bought mulberry and strawberry variants.

Though, another best choice is to find homemade grinding coffee made by locals.

No preservatives or any other additives such as what they add in coffee sachets. We bought these homemade coffee from our guesthouse owner, who have their own coffee plantation in the suburb.

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Big C Supermarket

Upon entering the supermarket, our bag zipper was tied by female employee.Without saying a word! It was a strange experience. I mean,she didn’t say a thing, so we have no idea that she will tied the bag. We even haven’t took the wallet out! How can we pay?? It’s very uncomfortable experience. In the end, we protested to security (another person)  because we need to take the wallet out first.

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Funny, we found that some products being sold at the supermarket were familiar to us. They are Indonesian products! Or, products that are also being sold in Indonesia.

That legendary (fried noodles) Indomie Goreng Rendang and Indomie Goreng Iga Penyet 🙂 It was 4200 VND (= 2500 Rupiah); in Indonesia the price is 1500 Rupiah. Not too much difference.

The Kopiko coffee candy with Halal Logo from MUI (halal certification of Indonesia). The Pillows snack, Nabati, Wonder Wheat (= Roti Gandum in Indonesia), coffee sachets, etc.

The last, we want to share the pictures of this bottle.

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No, we don’t drink alcohol. We just found this funny because the brand name is “Malesan”. In Indonesia, Malesan means being lazy.

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Stalking Dolphins at Kiluan Bay, Lampung

Lampung is a province in Indonesia; the southest on Sumatera island. The Kiluan Bay (Teluk Kiluan, in Indonesia language) itself located on the tip of the province.

The place is rather isolated, it’s quite a lo~~ng journey. As i lived in Bandung city, which is located on Java island, i have to cross Sunda straits to reach Sumatera island first. Here’s my routes :

Terminal Leuwi Panjang (Bandung city) – Pelabuhan Merak (Banten city) >>> by bus, 5 hours.

Pelabuhan Merak (Banten city) – Pelabuhan Bakauheuni (Lampung city) >>> by ferry, 1.5 hours.

Pelabuhan Bakauheuni – Dermaga Canti Kalianda >>> by car, 30 minutes. 

Dermaga Canti Kalianda – Teluk Kiluan >>> by boat, 4 hours.

DAY 1 – ISLAND HOPPING

As you can see on the map, Kiluan Bay is surrounded by many tiny islands. At least there are 3 islands which are famous for visiting. They are Umang besar island, Kelapa island, and Legundi island. They’re all uninhabited!

Umang Besar island is famous for its beautiful snorkeling spot. Its turqoise water is so clear that you can see atols spreading beneath the water. There are also a lot of fishes inside. Very enjoyable to watch while doing snorkeling!

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Kelapa island is remarked with its very soft white sands. There are sand, sand, and sand only beneath the water so it’s very likeable to play at. Either sitting on or laying your body on, it’s very safe. Don’t need to worry about hurting by atols, rocks, etc. Btw, bruised by atols is very painful, especially if after that you keep on swimming in salt seawater (T_T)

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Legundi island is offering a nice view of blue and green. It’s famous for snorkeling spots too.

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On the way of island hopping, we catched some fishes to be grilled later at night.

DAY 2 – STALKING THE DOLPHINS

First thing in the morning, we explore the island where our homestay at. We cancelled the plan to go to Lagoon because the weather was not good. The destination objects was slippery and dangerous when rain comes.

This uninhabited island is a real beauty. It’s no crowd, the water is very clear, the sand is soft, and there are various shapes of shells on the sand.

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Around 9 am, we prepared to go chasing the dolphins. By chasing i mean seeing, not hunting to kill.

The sky still cloudy, but we kept moving on.

We keep moving further to the open seas. The wave became wilder because it’s close and directly leads to Indian Ocean. Moreover, the weather wasn’t too good. I was frightened and keep thinking that the moment was much alike the scene from Pirates of Carribean where Captain Sparrow have to survive big storms in the black pearl, lol.

Making it worse, the rain began to fall, still lightly. There was still no sign of the dolphins appearing. We were dissapointed… but we have to go back because local man operating the boat said that heavy rain are soon to come.

Just the moment the fisherman prepared to turn the boat direction, there was jumps from afar. The dolphins!!! We watched them heading towards our boat by movement of their fins on water surface. Once in a while, they jumped.

My awe moment was when i saw more than 10 dolphins jumped all together! It was very moving.

I recorded the video all along, so no photo capture of that moment. The photos of dolphins below i get by capturing from video, so it’s a lil’ bit blurry. But you get the point 😉

We were very lucky to not coming home with empty dolphins moment. It’s happening though in some cases, where people can not see the cuties at all.

It’s all about the right timing of the day and the weather effect to find them, with a lil’ sprinkle of luck 😉

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

Da Lat Flower Park in Full Bloom

We were in Da Lat on September. At that time, the flowers were in full bloom. Well, actually in southeast Asia countries, the blooming season not that difficult to wait. Mostly, weather on this region only divided into two; summer and rainy.

After buying tickets at the front counter, we excitingly explore the area. The first thing catched by our eyes was obviously the majestic gate made of grass and flowers. The title Welcome to Flower Park was written in Vietnamese on the outside and in English on the inside of the park.

The close-up profile of the gate was even more beautiful. It’s in full bloom of red, pink, yellow, and white flowers plus green from the grass.

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

A lot of spots looked like they jumped out from fairy tale’s story books. Very instagramable, or in another words very picturesque.

There are many species of flowers being planted here. Other than flower fields, they also place another decorations, such as wooden huts, flower aisle, carriages, etc.

The flower fields itself are built in many shapes: sphere, oval, curvature, etc. There are also fountains and interesting animal figures.

Spacious area of greenies will feast your eyes. Very refreshing. Moreover, at the time we visit, not many people around… so we can enjoy the park by ourselves.

There is guidance board about another Da Lat’s attraction on the exit gate, also with emergency telephone number.

Exploring Da Lat wide flower park is fun, but surely will make you thirst. Chill for a while at the cafe located in the area. It serves caffe (coffee) and tra (tea) authentic of Da Lat. For the coffee, Vietnamese people like it cold. As for tea, their favorite is arthicoke tea. It can be your choice of souvenirs.

 

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A Walk Into Pine Woods : North Bandung Serenity

One Saturday morning, we visited one of the most talked-about place in Bandung : Puncak Bintang (The Stars Peak, in English). The area itself is actually a forest of pine trees, located at > 1900 meter above sea level.

Cool breeze welcoming us as we arrived in the area. There was no special gate to enter. The real entrance is inside. Puncak Bintang is managed by Perum Perhutani of Indonesia.

Left : The humble entrance; Right : After entering, the pathway is better.

After entering the humble entrance, we found a better pathway made from paving blocks. There are flowers on the right sideway. Many plantation fields owned by locals looked beautiful from afar. The star-shaped object is the symbol that represent the name of this place : Puncak Bintang (The Stars Peak, in English).

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The view on our right side as we walked to the forest

For entering the forest, you have to buy the ticket at the counter. Don’t worry, it’s very cheap. They need it to maintain the place.

There is a sign direction to assist visitors where to go as soon as they arrived at the forest. We chose the right direction first (because the area is more narrow), after that we will explore the left side until the end.

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Eventhough we chose to go to the right first, the near left side tempted us with its foggy misterious scenery. So, we took some photos first. Fogs come and forth, depends on the wind. The earlier you come, the higher the chance to get foggy forest background.

img_20160522_102534Perfect foggy forest background at 9 am

Well, now let’s go to the right.

The right side area of the sign

The signature point of the right side is the upper platform of the stairs where you can see the whole view from up above. It is marked with the big star-shaped object. Yes, the one that we saw from the entrance before. That small star looked from afar that we mentioned as the symbol of the place. Quite far, huh? Have i said it yet, that you should wear comfortable shoes when coming here? There will be a lot of walking.

Left : Stairs to the upper platform; Right : Looking at the pine trees tips from above

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Still the view from up above. Fields of local plantations.

After a while, we came to the left side of the sign direction. The fog was gone. Good thing we’ve already capture the moment when it was there.

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The signature of left side area is the pine forest itself. It’s a very long pathway. The further we go, the more dense the trees were. Also, the calmer the situation was. Somehow the trees made the area become sound-proof.

The further we went inside the forest, the more mysterious it gets 

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Walking into the deep will make you tired. The path looked flat, but actually it’s inclined. More and more with each step.

There are some benches on some spots along the way. But the distance from one bench to another bench quite far. They should provide more benches, though.

Beside the star-shaped object we talked earlier, there is another star object at the very peak of the area. At the peak there is also a signboard showing the place’s name, along with the height of the area from above sea surface.

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From the top, we sat while enjoying the beautiful view from above.

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Local husband and wife working on their field

The cool breeze greet us again. We will remember that serene moment forever. It was a refreshing trip.

Bonus pictures

TIPS :

  1. Wear comfortable shoes
  2. Wear sweater or warm clothes
  3. Prepare your feet 🙂

HOW TO GET THERE : 

Puncak Bintang is located at North Bandung, specifically at Kampung Buntis Bongkor, Kecamatan Cimenyan, Kabupaten Bandung. It is 30 minutes from Bandung City. When heading there, you’re gonna pass Saung Angklung Udjo-Caringin Tilu-and Bukit Moko (Moko Hill). It’s then about 200 meter from Bukit Moko. There is no public transport passing this place. You either have to drive by yourself, rent a car, rent a motorbike, or simply take the cab. If you access the place from Terminal Cicaheum, the distance is about 8,5 kilometer.

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Romantic City of Da Lat, a Highland in Central Vietnam

Đà Lạt is the capital of Lâm Đong Province, the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The city is surrounded by hills, pine forests, lakes, and waterfalls. Because of its geographic, Đà Lạt was developed as a resort by the French in the early 1900s, and many reminders of its colonial heritage remain. Producing a lot of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and many other plantations, the city also called City of Eternal Spring. The province also known as the land where famous Vietnam Drip Coffee come.

We arrived in Da Lat on the afternoon. The cool breeze greeting us as we took off from the bus that bring us from Mui Ne. It’s different with the weather of Ho Chi Minh City and Mui Ne. After getting lunch and taking a little rest, we were heading to old Da Lat Station (Ga Da Lat). We took the old train to visit Trai Ma Station (Ga Trai Ma) in the suburb. Nearly evening, we were back to the city and visited Crazy House which happen to be near of our guesthouse.

On the next day, we visited everything else in a whole day. At night, we enjoyed the relax atmosphere of Da Lat Square with the only supermarket in the city : Big C. On the next morning, we were back to Ho Chi Minh City by plane from Lien Khuong airport.

Let’s talk the details!

1. Da Lat Old Train Station and journey to Trai Mat Village

Da Lat Railway Station (Ga Da Lat) is designed in 1932 by French architects. It has unique architectural style, which incorporates Art Deco theme with elements of native Cao Nguyen communal houses from Vietnam’s Central Highlands. 

At the station, there are 2 locomotives designed for tourism, the inside interior is comfy and photo-able (if you know what i mean :D). They will take the visitors to nearby village of Trai Mat. In the village itself there is a pagoda named Linh Phuoc. On the journey, tourist can see the side of Da Lat’s suburbia. While looking around from the window, you’ll pass a lot of vegetable and flower fields. The suburb scenery looks like it came out from scenes of an old film. Worth to see.

The train stop at Trai Mat Station, nothing fancy there… it’s just a small village station. You are given certain times to explore around, especially the famous Linh Phuoc Pagoda. And then you have to come to the station again, heading back to Da Lat with the same train.

Linh Phuoc Pagoda has a very large area. It is a modern pagoda known for its intricate mosaics made from broken glass & pottery shards. The architecture is good. It is being said as the Disneyland of pagodas – in a good way. It crams so many gorgeous sights in one area that you can’t help but feel overwhelmed, like in a particularly good amusement park. Linh Phuoc has some national records – biggest bell in Vietnam, longest glass dragon (49 meters long), tallest Quan Am Bodhisattva statue, and so on. There are so many stunning marble, jade and wood carvings scattered throughout. The presentation is grandiose, not surprisingly it is being nominated as one of the top pagodas in Vietnam.

2. Crazy House (Hang Ngha)

The location is on the city center so it’s so easy to be reached by walking or just taking cab, it’s cheap. The house is one of top 10 unique architectures in the world! Find more about it here :  Vietnam’s Fairy Tale Architecture : The Crazy House (Hang Nga)

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

3. Cable Car, Truc Lam Monastery, and Tuyen Lam Lake

Cable car station is located on Robin Hill. It can be easily reached by cab. Da Lat cable cars is a 2267-meter construction “in the air” in the southwest crossing mountainous area of extent endlessly pine-tree forests to Truc Lam Monastery built in Phoenix mountain at an altitude of 1490 meters. Being inside the cable car means that you are in 1517 meters above sea level ! The scenic ride took about 5 minutes to cross to monastery. You can pay for one way trip in case you want to try another way to go back to city center. Or, just take the round trip (beware of the system closing time), it’s cheaper though.

Truc Lam Monastery is located outside the centre of Da Lat. From the district of Hòa Bình in the city centre of Da Lat, the temple is located at a turnoff on the road from the city centre towards Prenn Hill. It’s near the Tuyen Lăm Lake. It can be quickly reached by using cable cars (approx. 5 minutes). You can experienced a scenic trip passing mountain and pine forest. The monastery itself is somewhat isolated enough, to enter it you have to pass 61 steps from the entrance and wear proper clothes. The nuances is calm and there are some colorful flower gardens. The monks live there so you’ll passing them here and there when you’re looking around the place.  

Tuyen Lam Lake is a man-made lake located not far from the monastery. It’s 222 steps down from the temple. Walk slowly while enjoying the view, it won’t be too long. At the bottom, you’ll find the gate which can be the alternative entrance for people who wants to come to the temple. But it’s surely a more challenging path rather than the first entrance. You will find a lot of kiosk selling souvenirs, also coffee and light meals. You can take a boat to explore the wide lake, or just enjoying the lake-view from the side.

If you take the round trip of cable cars, you need to go back to cable car station near the first entrance. Either hike the 222 steps back or take cab/motorbike cab to the station. Or, go visit Datanla Waterfall not far from there.

4. Datanla Waterfall

We’re heading to Datanla Waterfall using motorbike taxi from Tuyen Lam Lake. You can also take the cab. It’s about 10 minutes distance.

You have to go down to reach the waterfall, passing a lot of stairs and forest. The journey back to the entrance is more challenging, lol. The pathway is made with pavements though, not soil anymore, but it’s still a bit slippery on rainy days (depends on your shoes type). Honestly, the waterfall itself is not that majestic. There are a lot of higher and more beautiful waterfalls in my country, Indonesia, (here, there and a lot more… just googling), so i’m not too impressed. But, the place is well-prepared for tourism. There are some sport activities you can join (w/ additional fees), such as roller coaster, rock climbing, abseiling, canyoing, flying fox across the waterfall, and camping. If you want new experience, you can reach the waterfall by riding roller coaster from the entrance and vice versa.

5. Da Lat Flower Park

After going back to Robin Hill by cable car from Truc Lam Monastery, we took the cab to the north, to Da Lat Flower Park. The address is Trần Quốc Toản, Phường 8, Đà Lạt City. It is a wide area of colorful flowers of any kind. Very refreshing. Visit our special story about this beautiful place here : Da Lat Flower Park in Full Bloom

6. Bao Dai Summer Palace (Palace III)

This 3rd palace of Vietnamese last emperor also known as Summer Palace. It’s located at the top of a hill on Phường 4. It can be easily reached from city center by cab or motorbike taxi. The opening time is 7 – 11am and 1.30 – 4pm. Visitors must cover their shoes with shoe cover put at the front door. Visiting this 2 stories structure, travelers will have a chance to discover the living of the royal family through 25 rooms and its amenities.

Epilogue

If you have more time, you can visit other interesting places in Da Lat, such as : Valley of Love, Elephant Waterfalls, etc. We want to visit those places but the schedule wasn’t fit. Have a nice trip!

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

Vietnam’s Fairy Tale Architecture : The Crazy House (Hang Nga)

Hang Nga guesthouse is a piece of artwork that really surpasses the limit of people’s imagination. Designed by Vietnamese architect and impressionist Dang Viet Nga, this extraordinary building of non-rectilinear shapes has appeared in many international architectural journals and finally made its way to the list of the world’s ten most creative buildings. (VietnamOnline)

A free-wheeling architectural exploration of surrealism, Hang Nga Crazy House is a joyously designed, outrageously artistic private home. Imagine sculptured rooms connected by superslim bridges rising out of a tangle of greenery, an excess of cascading lava-flow-like shapes, wild colours, spiderweb windows and an almost organic quality to it all, with the swooping hand rails resembling jungle vines. Think of Gaudi and Tolkien dropping acid together. (LonelyPlanet)

The architect, Mrs. Dang Viet Nga – locally known as Hang Nga, has a PhD in architecture from Moscow. Her father, Truong Chinh, was Ho Chi Minh’s successor, serving as Vietnam’s second president from 1981 until he died in 1988.

The construction was started in 1990. The construction as well as the process of claiming for possession of this house are both long stories. Started from scratch, there was time that Ms. Nga was on the verge of bankruptcy when all banks refused to lend her. It was at this point that she came up with the idea of selling tickets for tourists visiting the house. Moreover, after 18 continuous years and 6 times filing, she has been given the possession of this house, as well as its recognition as a piece of art.

Hang Nga build the house with fairy tale concept in her mind. The crazy house resembles a tree, with uneven windows and tunnel-shaped stairways. It’s nothing normal there. Everything is twisted, literally (like twisting roots, etc). Steepy stairs go up and down here and there with a chance of wild mushrooms and spider webs visualizations popping up on the way. The tree itself spreading in many directions, rising above to reach the top : sky of Dalat.

Location

Dalat City (5 hours by bus from Mui Ne OR 1 hour by plane from Ho Chi Minh City). Since we visited Mui Ne days before to see its sahara-like desert, we depart from Mui Ne by bus. There is no airport in Mui Ne. Find out more about the desert here : Mui Ne : Saharaesque Vietnam

Specific adress : 3 Huynh Thuc Khang St., Ward 3.

The place covering an area approximately 1,600m2