Friday, February 29, 2008

Dalat and Na Trang

The flight from Saigon had us leaving the hotel at 5:30am and on the bus in Dalat a few hours later. We spent the day touring - a Buddhist monastery, a cable car ride through the mountains, Bao Dai's summer palace. He was the last emperor of Vietnam and like many wealthy people, liked to escape to this mountain city when summer became too hot on the coast. One of the specialties of the area is hand embroidery. The most exquisite work is done to produce pictures by thread. Some are even so perfectly done that they can be viewed from either front or back.

Na Trang is a 5 hour drive from Dalat through the mountains, which all would have been more spectacular without the low cloud cover. On the way we visited the Cham towers, which are a major temple for the Cham people who occupied the area during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The next day we took a boat ride to an island primarily occupied by fishermen. To get to the island from our "tour" boat we boarded what appeared to be round woven baskets with a diameter of about 6'. There was a small wooden floor, and 2 of us sat on the edge along with the 2 locals who paddled us in. Lunch was cooked on board our own boat and included a lovely selection of seafood along with soup and fried noodles. The captain doubles as the chef.

Our food in general has been local, fresh and delicious - and all without problem!

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