The cool air of Dalat was one of the best feelings. After 6 weeks in the 90+ Fahrenheit with 70-95% humidity I could not have asked for anything more satisfying then a temperature in the 70’s.
One of the first things that came up when I researched Dalat was a place called the Crazy House. After seeing photos of it online I knew I had to stay here for at least one night to explore. Whoever designed this place either has the most creative mind, had their mind enlightened by psychedelic drugs or both! This is undeniably one of the places that once you visit you will never forget. I wouldn't recommend staying here for more than one night because it's a tourist site visited by hundreds of people every day, but you should stay for one night so you can enjoy the property all to yourself early in the morning.
Dalat is famous for their “Vietnamese Pizza” or Bánh Tráng Nướng. Other than being flat and round it has zero resemblance of a traditional pizza. Trang knew of a spot that was famous as the best in town. The reviews and rumors were not wrong and the lady who operates this place was the closest real life experience I’ve ever had to the Seinfeld “soup Nazi.” She is known by the alias of bánh tráng chửi, which translates to “yelling pizza lady.” Once her restaurant is completely full she starts yelling at customers to leave and come back another time. As a customer, it is actually very nice to have your space from customers waiting to get a seat. We all know that feeling of someone waiting on your table to clear so they can claim your spot. It is uncomfortable and I love her effort to let her current clientele eat in peace.
If you’re lucky enough to get a seat like us when you sit down then be sure to know what you are ordering and sit patiently until it is delivered. The “yelling pizza lady” does not like customers who get impatient and has been rumored to kick people out. I think she came close to kicking a mom and her kids (sitting next to us) out, but things cooled down before she had to say “no pizza for you!” The Vietnamese pizza was delicious, the “yelling pizza lady” for sure has a crush on me and I’m pretty certain there is a table reserved for me anytime I come back!!!
The next morning our third amigo (Chris) arrived in Dalat after zooming to town in two days from Ho Chi Minh City. We set out on an adventure immediately to visit Café Me Linh. If you know me, you know I’ll drive 30 minutes out of the way any day to get good coffee! Little did I know before going here, but this coffee place was actually a coffee farm. The first time I’ve ever been to a coffee farm and I was geeking out immediately once we arrived. On top of that it was a coffee farm where they processed some of the beans by feeding them to weasels. This kind of coffee can sell for $50-200 a bag in the USA. I considered stopping my trip here to live and work on this coffee farm.
The next morning Chris, Trang and I packed up the bikes and decided to get on the road towards Nha Trang . We were told that this would be one of the most beautiful and breathtaking rides of the entire trip by a lot of people in Dalat. Not a single one of them was wrong. The starting elevation was 4,900 ft. and we were headed to sea level in less than 84 miles. Needless to say, the drive was full of downhill, sharp “S” bend turns and views that made it hard to keep your eyes on the road.
The drive was going great, the views were impressive to say the least. Then we came to a sharp S bend where another motorbike driver had recently wrecked. I slowed down and then came to another sharp bend and without warning we were immediately on a gravel patch construction zone. I slowed down even more, then the road was shut down to one lane so I had to cross into the oncoming traffic lane. During the change of lanes my front tire found a patch of sand under the gravel which grabbed my wheel and yanked it left. I fought it back right and was headed towards the closed lane and cliff so I turned back left where the sand decided it was going to win this time. We were probably going about 5mph (8kmh) when we nose-dived the front end of the bike into the gravel road. My left knee received most of the impact and Trang’s lower right leg got the worst when it contacted the muffler and left her with a pretty bad burn.
We picked ourselves up pretty quickly and got off the road before we became road kill by one of the passing buses or trucks. We were happy to be in pretty good shape minus my knee bleeding and Trang’s leg looking like it was grilled for lunch. The bike however had a lot more cosmetic damage than us. I thought for sure we were going to be finish the day on the back of a truck or bus. This is when I learned to never doubt the power of Vietnamese mechanic availability. One of the construction workers came to the rescue with a sledge hammer and crowbar. The bike didn’t look perfect when he was done, but it was good enough to drive. I offered and tried shoving money down his shirt pocket, but he wouldn’t take it.
In less than 45 minutes we had our wounds bandaged and were back on the road. Chris built my confidence back up by reinforcing to me with an eloquent BS lie that there wasn’t much I could have done to avoid the crash besides walking the motorcycle down the mountain. A good old fashioned fairytale from him was all I needed to regain my confidence on the bike. The handle bar was a little crooked and I was driving a bit slower, but in almost no time we were too distracted by the views and beauty of the countryside to worry about the pain. We stopped to get lunch, rubbing alcohol and were in Nha Trang just a few hours later. Just in time for rush hour traffic!