Dalat – Part 2: The Zen Ambience

I guess Mai Dung, the owner of Zen Cafe would never get bored of telling us her stories about Dalat. Mai Dung is originally from Hanoi. It had come to a certain point of time when she realised she had got enough of all the unnecessary stress , headache and attachment of the chaotic city, Dung sold her house and moved to Dalat. I didn’t bother to ask how did she ended up living with Axel up here but I think I can easily tell the reason why. Axel fell in love with Mai Dung and with Dalat too – the reason he decided to book a ticket to come back to Dalat for the second time, but this time was a straight one-way ticket. I heard Axel’s sister will come all the way from Austria as well to help them manage Zen Cafe and Zen Valley. 

I spent half of my day wandering around the “Zen Valley”. There were flowers everywhere obviously and many beautiful houses. I love how they painted their houses in different colours which made me feel like I was in Venice. But what surprised me the most was the number of pagodas in this floral city. I was told that there are about 5 or 6 different pagodas all kinds just near by the resort where I stayed. I kept wondering but I think I know why – and perhaps I will explain the reason in the next chapter.

A Buddhist Pagoda in Dalat
                                                                                        A Buddhist Pagoda in Dalat

After having passed by a few pagoda, I made my way up to my all time favorite spot – the Zen Cafe again for my late lunch. It was all decided for that day: my lazy day and that I will just do whatever I feel like doing.

Zen Café - 27C Pham Hong Thai, Dalat City
                                                                        Zen Café – 27C Pham Hong Thai, Dalat City
Happiness is when you find your inner peace.
                                                                 Happiness is when you find your inner peace.
Yummy :)
                                                                                                           Yummy 🙂

@Zen Cafe

Zen Café
                                                                                                      @Zen Café
@Zen Cafe
                                                                                                      @Zen Cafe

That was how I spent my second day in Dalat. Getting back to the Valley for a hot shower in the evening, I watched again “Now you see me” for the 4th time of my life – I just can’t help watching it over and over again every single time I see the film on StarMovies. I guess it was him Jesse Eisenberg – the main reason that I am so particularly obsessed with this film. And then the only option on TV for me was StarWorld Asia where I can watch American Idol, U.S MasterChef, the Rachel Zoe Project and later on Styled to Rock. That night was the first time in my life I paid attention to “How I met your mother” and fell it love with it. The episode was about Robin & Barney’s wedding and it belongs to Season 9 – the last season of the entire series. When it comes to this, I am not even sure whether I have missed all interesting parts of the series or the fact I have saved lots of my time for not following it from the very beginning? Because it didn’t take me 9 years and 9 seasons to give the answer to that question: “How Ted met the Mother” but only a few of the very last episodes.

I had taken the below picture before putting a happy ending for another peaceful day in Dalat. I think that probably was a mulberry farm. I could see the farmers kept the light on during the night for which I didn’t quite catch the reason. I enjoyed the view pretty much then later on, I figured out something different. Obviously the beautiful light down there was not there to entertain me, it is to maintain a suitable light and temperature condition to speed up the growing process of the mulberry trees. In other words, these trees are forced to grow up 27/4 so the harvest season will come faster. Poor trees! I thought. but I guess this is just LIFE. Goodnight!

Beautiful night view from my window...
                                                                                    Beautiful night view from my window…

To be continued

Dalat – Part 1: The City of Eternal Spring

I picked Dalat, after having thought of some possible destinations where I can go for a quick getaway and without having to worry about getting a visa. (Yes it is not easy at all for Vietnamese when you need to travel overseas). All what I wanted was to have some peace and quiet. I guess I had enough of stress from work, home, relationships and myself these days. Dalat was simply a perfect choice for me at that point because 1) It was a place that I had never been and noone knew me; 2) A place which is absolutely peaceful and quiet; 3) It offers the best weather in Vietnam (for me); 4) Vietnam Airlines offered me a great deal for my round trip tickets. I purchased the tickets right away, 10 days before the trip and it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. So welcome to Camellia to the City of Eternal Spring.  

I took a Vietnam Airlines’ regular flight from Hanoi – Dalat at 01:45PM on a Wednesday afternoon. I know this is not very relevant but I am quite impressed with the fact that we have free wifi and free drinking water at Noibai airport now. I think they might probably need better recycling and trash station but it will take time to improve anyway. It didn’t take me so long on the 1.5 hours flight, just in time I finished reading the Buddhist Tales: The Price Goodspeaker, one of the most recent books I’ve read. I’ve been reading quite a bit of Buddhist tales lately and I must say that I have learned so many good lessons. Yeah I was so excited. Not the first time I travel alone but this time was a bit different…

Dalat from high up above...
                                                                               Dalat from high up above…


...or down below...
                                                                                           …or down below…

I took a taxi from Lien Khuong Airport to Zen Cafe. It took me about 45 minutes to get there and just like what I had imagined, I did not get disappointed at all. I found Zen Cafe on TripAdvisor. I am sure many people would easily fall into the ‘trap’ just by hearing the name and also a very good rating too. But I must admit that Zen Cafe was a real good trap though so I do consider myself very lucky. The cafe is managed by Axel, a native German and Mai Dung, Vietnamese, obviously. They were and are simply one of the best couples that I have met in my entire life.

A few days before my trip, I sent an email to Axel to ask if they still have accomodation available. I know it would not be easy for such location to have room available for me at that stage, considering they don’t have many rooms (like 3 guest rooms?) and it was very close to public holiday. I was looking for alternatives at the same time and almost made my booking at another resort. It was an absolutely stroke of luck for me I must say, I left my wallet with my credit card at somewhere I can’t remember (Yeah I know, I’m talking about my wallet and my credit card) so it was not possible for me to make the transaction. Axel got back to me with an email and just like what I had thought, his rooms were sold out! But, yes, but, “we have since some weeks new and nice bungalows nearby in a quiet valley with a wonderful view. We offer you this accommodation for a special rate for these days… Take a look please to the pictures and let me know your idea…”

I was like, YES. Yes. yes please! Axel dropped me at the Zen Valley, after about half an hour spending on a quick chat at Zen Cafe. Amongst all the beautiful bungalows that they have, Axel was too nice to let me decide ANY room that I feel most comfortable with. So I chose this one, not necessarily the most spacious one which I didn’t really need but it was the most suitable accommodation for me on this vacation:

My Dalat Home - The living room
                                                                                  @My Dalat Home – The living room
My Da Lat 'Home' - The Bed Room
                                                                              @My Da Lat ‘Home’ – The Bed Room
View from the room...
                                                                                           The View from my bedroom…

The sun was going down very quickly and I managed to head up to Zen Cafe after having my shower. At Zen Cafe I met couples of new people with all different nationalities: German; American; one mixed Chinese – Vietnamese and myself 100% Vietnamese. We decided to share a cab and make our way to the night market. Although I never liked going to the markets but come on, I told myself : “You’re on holiday so let’s just enjoy!”

A little bit of the local taste...
                                                                                          A little bit of the local taste…
                                                                                  The “tricky” strawberries
It was a $1 durian, a nightmare to a couple of people but I am okay :)
                                                                               Dare to try durian? Challenge accepted! 🙂

To be continued…