Da Lat

On Saturday morning we left at 6am for Da Lat. We stopped at a waterfall on the way about 1.5 hours
from Duc Linh then continued the drive through the mountains (it was very bumpy! "Potholes" doesn't even begin to cover it…) We stopped at an "Amusement Park" called Prenn which was more like a garden with some opportunities to ride animals. There we climbed 600+ steps up a mountainside to get to a temple (our calves were on fire by the time we got back down!) We continued our drive and stopped at a beautiful temple where I sat inside for a few minutes listening to the Tibetan Singing Bowl and meditating in Vajrasana pose (kneeling). On Sunday we visited a garden where there were many flowers and skinny horses roaming free. I enjoyed two different "Western" hotels during our two night stay, where I got steady hot water and a bed with sheets on the mattress - I was so grateful (it was a splurge at $30/night). On our way back to Duc Linh on Monday we stopped at the markets in Da Lat (I got a lot of gifts for family!) as well as the "Love Valley" which is a garden on a hillside overlooking mountains and a lake.

Whenever I go anywhere in Vietnam I attract a lot of attention. Usually in Duc Linh it is harmless attention from kids and shopkeepers who just want to wave and say "hello," sometimes it is from adults (usually male) who are either laughing at me or saying impolite things in Vietnamese (I recognize those comments in any language), and whenever a truck or bus passes me on the street it honks and someone hangs out of the door motioning for me to get on (what are you doing here, white girl? We gotta get you back to Saigon!) When we were at the Love Valley this morning several people either took my photo while I wasn't looking or asked to take a photo with me. This happened when I went to Macau a few years ago, but it was less intrusive and I was traversing around with two cute blondes who were also being asked to pose for photos, so we thought it was funny (also, it was just one afternoon…this stuff has been happening for a month now!) Anyways, at one point I found a nice quiet bench to sit at overlooking the lake and was enjoying a brief moment of quiet and solitude, feeling the cool wind and looking out over the mountains, and I heard "hey lady!!" - I turned to my left and saw a couple grinning with cameras in hand, trying to get a closer-up photo of me. I turned my head away and pretended to not hear them until they left. Let me tell you something: it might seem like fun to be a celebrity, but there is something a little bit violating about the lack of personal space and privacy. Of course I know the Vietnamese are just curious because they aren't used to seeing people of my stature and ethnicity where they live…but still.

 In any event, over the last few weeks I have developed a new found appreciation for the anonymity of NYC. Many times I find myself feeling like a "nobody" in the city (although of course there are rude men and crazy people everywhere - on my birthday this year a man followed me up the subway stairs yelling at me to gain weight because I looked "sick" - happy bday to me). Here in Vietnam I have felt like a celebrity. People stare at me as I walk down the street, the kids come and grab on to me as soon as I am within arm's length, and people constantly greet me and ask me how I am doing. I can't walk outside for long without hearing "LOW-RAH! LOW-RAAAH!" For the first few weeks this was cool and flattering…then it became a little bit exhausting. The next time I am feeling invisible I will read this very post and remember just how uncomfortable it can be to be SO VERY VISIBLE. Sometimes, you just want to walk outside without needing to respond to anyone or wave away honking buses.

After a long bumpy trip back through the mountains this afternoon we are back in Duc Linh. I'm looking forward to preparing for my last week of teaching and playing with the kids. 

The "Ranger" office at the waterfall (I say "ranger" because these guys were not doing anything to help preserve this place!)

Litter everywhere at the waterfall
Is that tree a garbage can!?

This man brought a live chicken to the waterfall to kill and cook on the spot. I was 100% ready to leave when I saw this!
Driving through the mountains to Da Lat

Stray dogs and puppies are everywhere in Vietnam. Some of them get caught and turned into food for humans :(

Mangosteen on the side of the road! Yum!

Prenn "Amusement Park"
Climbing the stairs…

Almost to the top…
Temple at the top

The second temple we visited on Saturday - I spent some time in there

Can you see the monks walking on the porch?

 Garden on Sunday

 Da Lat is famous for being a city of Romance - a lot of cheesy photo opportunities for couples!

 View from my hotel room on Sunday night
Monday morning in Da Lat - that guy sitting on a ledge is our driver!

I I bought some gifts here!
Love Valley
And there's the valley!
Victor and Trang buying into the "Love Valley" thing ;)

Needed a jacket this weekend! It's much cooler up in the mountains
This is my "no, stranger, you can not take a photo of me" face

This was my quiet spot until the "hey lady!" incident

Victor made it to the moon



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