Dalat: land of cool weather, canyoning, and the Crazy House

Later Mui Ne! It's been real.
Later Mui Ne! It’s been real.

After exploring the dunes in Mui Ne I reconnected with a guy I met in Saigon (we tried to meet up to travel to Mui Ne together but it didn’t work out). After my disastrous journey to Mui Ne it was time to acquire a travel buddy. Grant and I got a drink the night before and we were supposed to meet up with a third solo traveler but he couldn’t find us. I met this guy, Alex, in my dorm who was also traveling solo by motorbike so he came along with me to meet up with Grant and hopefully start a little biker gang. It turns out that Alex already knew Grant and was supposed to be our third travel dude. Success!

On the road again
On the road again

With our biker gang set up it was time to move forward to Dalat! After getting our oil changed and gassing up, and getting royally ripped off [traveler tip: make sure they reset the pump to zero and check the price before they reset it so you don’t pay westerner price], we set off on the next leg of our tour de Vietnam.

When you’re traveling by motorbike it is waayyy better traveling with other people. You have someone to share the excitement with, someone to make it feel less dangerous, and it helps to have someone with a working phone too.

Enjoying the view of the mountains in the central highlands while letting our engines rest
Enjoying the view of the mountains in the central highlands while letting our engines rest

After slowly making our way through the mountains (you can only go so fast on a 110cc motorcycle) we arrived in Dalat.  Dalat is a city nestled in the mountains of Vietnam’s central highlands and it’s surrounded by waterfalls making it a great place to escape the constant sweating experience that is traveling Southeast Asia and to do some epic canyoning.

We made it to Dalat! Also known as "Little Paris"
We made it to Dalat! Also known as “Little Paris”

We all heard great things about so many hostels in Dalat and wound up choosing the Wolfpack hostel. The Wolfpack was hands down the best hostel I stayed in through my six months traveling. After you check in they never forget your name. People in the family I didn’t even meet yet knew my name. Every night the family cooks a traditional Vietnamese dinner for the whole hostel including special dishes for anyone who was a vegetarian (which some of them didn’t even tell them they were vegetarians! What kind of gypsy magic does this family possess?!). And, the hostel had the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. I think half of why I kept extending my stay there was to enjoy their heavenly beds.

Canyoning! Abseiling down this waterfall was followed by a 5 meter drop into the water.
Canyoning! Abseiling down this waterfall was followed by a 5 meter drop into the water.

We all booked the canyoning trip through the hostel with Dalat Highland Sport Travel and had an epic time. Our guides were hilarious. They had this motto “don’t be lazy, be crazy!” and were non-stop cracking jokes. They tell you to wear sneakers to get some grip on the rocks but mine were still soaked from the ride to Dalat and I wanted to give them a chance to dry before we headed out on the road again. So, I thought I was being savvy wearing my Tevas – look! these have grip and they’ll dry out quickly! WRONG! So wrong. The path to get to the waterfalls was incredibly muddy so my feet just kept slipping right through the front of my Tevas… I wound up just taking them off and used the vines on the trees to keep from falling down the muddy trail. I fell down a lot anyway and earned the nickname of “the crazy American”.

natural waterslide
Going head first down a natural waterslide 

The canyoning itself was so much fun. There were a few natural waterslides that we went down, some cliff jumping, and of course the canyoning. We abseiled down three routes and the last one’s name definitely suited it. It was called “the washing machine”. Why? Because by the time you get in the water the waterfall smacks you in the face and the pushes you under the water repeatedly, cleaning off the mud covering your clothes. I think I prefer a normal washing machine.

Heading straight down into the "washing machine"!
Heading straight down into the “washing machine”!
...Aaaand coming out of the "washing machine".  I'm smiling but I was actually freaking out
…Aaaand coming out of the “washing machine”. I’m smiling but I was actually freaking out!

Another highlight of Dalat is the Hằng Nga guesthouse also dubbed “the Crazy House”. The architect, Đặng Việt Nga, was inspired by Antoni Gaudí’s work (the famous Catalan architect for those who aren’t familiar) and makes you feel like you just took a few hits of acid and wandered onto the pages of Alice in Wonderland. The rooms are some kind of mix between a cave system, a hobbit hole, and a tree house.

A small portion of the "Crazy House"
A small portion of the “Crazy House”

The people who work there are a bit crazy too (their statement, not mine). These two adorable, caped vietnamese girls asked my friend if they could twist [braid] her hair then proceeded to ask what she will do with her daughter’s hair. Good question? Cut it and sell it on the deep web? Katie’s bombshell redhead hair is dyed but they don’t know that.

The expanded Wolfpack! Later Dalat! We're on to Nha Trang!
The expanded Wolfpack! Later Dalat! We’re on to Nha Trang!

After a few days exploring Dalat it was time to head on. We added two more bikers to our gang, forming “the Wolfpack”, and headed north to Nha Trang- land of scuba diving, snorkeling, and more Russians. Seriously, why are there so many Russians in Vietnam?

A sneak peak at Nha Trang's clear waters
A sneak peak at Nha Trang’s clear waters

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