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Bouncing to Dalat

July 14, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

*** All images taken with Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4 lens ***

The next stop from Saigon is Dalat up in the Central Highlands. The French built their summer residences here to take advantage of the cooler climate, and I'm certainly enjoying that also. There is only a bus option and I choose to travel in the day so I can see the scenery. There's a night bus that is much faster due to less traffic on the road...and now that I know that there isn't that much to see I wish I'd take that option! In Vietnam there are sitting and sleeping buses. The sleeping bus has mini beds in individual pods, but as I was travelling by day I figured the sitting bus would be fine.

Unfortunately the day didn't get off to a good start as the agency didn't collect me in time to catch my 8.15am bus...so quite a bit of juggling and negotiation was undertaken to get me on the next bus. They tried to put me on a sleeping bus, but the pod configuration is three rows double-decker, and the pod I was allocated didn't have a view, so I insisted on getting a sitting bus. A little more backwards and forwards (and a compensatory iced coffee) and I'm now sitting in one of the worst seats in a sitting bus, and I'm seriously questioning my stubbornness. Just a word of warning for fellow travellers, if your legs are longer than 3 feet don't get a seat further back than row 16. They become pitched after that and you can't get your legs under the seat in front....so I'm now faced with an 8 hour trip curled into a ball! And then my happy Buddha neighbour arrives...

He's happy...and a little tubby...and I'm now passively jockeying for real estate. It's not long before he gets comfortable and starts snoring his happy head off...bugger. The trip isn't going so well. As our bodies are melded together I try wriggling to wake him a little to stop the snoring, but that doesn't work for long. Then he folds his arm up behind his head and the snoring abates...but now he's launched a new offensive...eau de body odour! I can't catch a break! I decide to point one air vent at his arm pit and the other one at my nose so I'm odour-neutral...then put on my headphones and let Ella Fitzgerald block out all ambient noise while I turn my attention back to the scenery. {As luck would have it, four hours into the journey our neighbour (who had the luxury of two seats to himself) gets off the bus and my happy Buddha snatches the opportunity to move...ok...I may have pointed it out to him...but we both happily part ways}.

It was a VERY slow and bouncy trip to Dalat. I don't think we got over 60km/hr for the first two hours due to heavy traffic congestion. The bikes cause a lot off issues as they travel pretty slowly and en masse. The road is only two lanes each way and most of the time is spent trying to overtake slow vehicles and avoiding driving over scooters. The fringes of Saigon are not pretty, and the nice mountain scenery didn't start until we were pretty close to Dalat. The road was shocking. A lot of it is either under repair or in desperate need of repair, and I felt like we bounced from one pothole to the next and my back was screaming at me by the time we arrived. 8 hours turned into 9...and then into 10 after the mini-bus from the main bus station forgot to drop me off (it was a theme that day). While it was nice to get a night tour of Dalat, I was really happy to finally stand up straight.

I've spoken to other travellers who also did the day trip...and we universally recommend travelling from Saigon to Dalat by night in the sleeping bus! My first day in Dalat will be dedicated to R&R and finding a masseuse :)

I didn't take too many pics along the way, but here are a few that I managed to snap through the bus window. The camera did quite a good job at grabbing focus...although this is still the main issue I'm trying to overcome. I'll put up a post very soon about my life with the Fuji X-Pro 1 so far. We're gradually settling into a relationship :)

And this is Dalat...

 


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