I’ve been in Vietnam now for 4 months and I keep hearing about a city in the south that is supposedly not like Vietnam; the weather is cool, the air is fresh, and it’s reminiscint of a French village. The name is Oz…ok, I’m just making sure you’re awake, actually it’s called Da Lat. Da Lat comes up over and over again as holiday destination of choice of the Vietnamese. The prospect of cooler weather and fresh air sounded enticing. My visiting friend, Veronique, was my perfect impetus for exploring some more of southern Vietnam, so I put Da Lat on our travel itinerary.
We took the bus on an 8 hour ride out of the congested city of Saigon into the ‘real’ Vietnam. It was such a wonderful feeling to get out of the maze of motorbikes and pollution; I could feel the weight of Saigon slipping off my shoulders with every hour passing in the bus. Soon I was surrounded by green rolling hills and valleys. The landscape was a tiered checkerboard of crops. I was actually a bit surprised about my reaction to this new green country. It felt comfortable and peaceful. Now I’ve never considered myself a country girl; yet I’m starting to question that as each year goes by. Maybe I am just looking for simplicity as I age. Where has that clubbing girl gone?
When Veronique and I stepped off the bus we were immediately accosted by the usual suspects; taxi drivers, tour operators, hotel owners all saying ‘pick me, pick me’. Oh if finding a boyfriend were only that easy. However one caught my ear because he had impeccable English. Actually it probably wasn’t impeccable, but when you teach English everyday you become excited when you meet someone who can actually speak it without murdering it! Two young men helped Veronique and I into a taxi and chatted with us ensuring that our taxi was going to the right place. Before the taxi drove off, the one boy said, “Is it ok if we come talk to you about our motorcycle tours?” Not a bad sales tactic, help us and then try to sell us…at least they provided some value to us – so I said “sure”.
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