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Vietnam flagPhoto essay:
Vietnam Bicycle Tour: Cultural Collage of the South

   

Lam Ha – Dalat (50km, 31mi) (elev 1400m) Good climb to the honeymoon capital of Vietnam.

Points of interest: “City of Eternal Spring”, Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, Lam Ty Ni Pagoda, Crazy House

 
  At the base of the hill leading to Dalat is Prenn Falls.  It is fully developed for tourist, including a large parking lot, restaurants, snack vendors and curio shops (left).  Hardly noticed or visited is the large pagoda (right) off to the side.
  Due to its higher elevation, the climate around Dalat is more temperate that any other place in southern Vietnam.  This also means that no matter what direction you approach Dalat from it is a climb.  The surrounding hills are forested with pine trees.  
  We didn't catch Dalat, the City of Eternal Spring, on its prettiest day.  The photo gives some of the sense of greenery, the hills and the lake in the center of town that give Dalat much of its tranquility.  During the American War, Dalat served as a defacto neutral city, where both side kept villas so their top brass could work and relax in the comfortable climate.  There are still French villas scattered around the town.  
  The town seems to have turned its back on the river that runs through it (right), but this is being changed as some of the housing is being torn down and the river bank redeveloped.  
  Like most towns in Vietnam, Dalat has a lot of vibrancy because of the diverse commercial activity and human scale of the street level and the residential use of the upper floors.  Walking is the most common form of transportations.
  Dalat gets a lot of its character because it is built on countless hills.  Running up and down these hills are small alleys, passageways and connecting stairs.  On some of the stairs they have made ramps to help bicycles and motorcycles get in and out.
  You can get anything you want at Dalat central market.  There is so much color, texture and diversity in the market it can capture your imagination for hours.
 
Elementary School

Sandwich maker cart, bakery

Artist (painter)
  This car-free back street in an older part of town was full of small family shops, interesting items, and kid playing in their "front yards."
  The Dalat Catholic Cathedral "Nha Tho Con Ga", built by the French.  It is so named because of the rooster (Con Ga) on the bell tower.  The cathedral’s architecture recalls the French influence and mimics European Catholic churches in the Middle Ages.  It has 70 French-made stained glass windows
  Lam Ty Ni Pagoda, also known as Quan Am Tu, was founded in 1961. The decorative front gate was constructed by the Pagoda's one monk, Vien Thuc. He was an industrious man who learned English, French, Khmer and Thai. During his 20 years here, he has built flowers bed and gardens in several different styles.  He is also know for his abstract painting and poetry.  
  "Crazy House" is an eccentrically designed residence/guest house and garden.  The architect is a Russian trained Vietnamese women.  Though with virtual no parallel walls, right angles, or flat surfaces, it has nothing in common soviet-era architecture.
  The most traditional room (left) in the building includes a memorial to the architects father, who is a former Premier of Vietnam.  It is conjectured that this relationship helps protect Crazy House from attacks Vietnamese cultural purists for being a foreign cultural influence.  Some non-tradition buildings in Vietnam have been torn down.  The room at the right is one of about a dozen guest rooms.
    Bao Dai’s was the last King (Emporor) of the Nyugen Dynasty.  This was  his summer palaces.  It is now open as a museum.  Built in 1933, it is furnished as he left it in the 1960's and still seems quite contemporary.  At right is the main dining room.
  Bao Dai's office (left), where he would receive important visitors while he was at the palace.  At right is one of the bedrooms.  There are separate bedrooms for Bao Dai, his wife, his children and guests.
  The garden (left) as seen from the balcony of Bao Dai's bedroom. 

One option visitors have is to dress in royal fashion and be photographed in a throne (right).

   
 

Return to Lam Ha Continue to Phan Rang

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