So, Phu Quoc, what can we say, it’s a wash-out and we’ve decided to pack up and get out.
We’re going to fly out and up north to the hilltop town of Dalat.
It’s a two flight, four hour trip that takes us up from the gulf to the Central Highlands of Vietnam. When we arrive we’re pretty impressed with what we see, the airport is about 45 minutes drive from town and judging by what we see on the way in it looks like a real food bowl.
It’s beautiful here, there are rolling green hills full of all kinds of produce on the way in, it’s a vibrant green and it’s got that nip of spring cool air. We spot tomatoes, strawberries, cactus, roses, persimmons, azaleas, custard apples, broccoli, capsicums, chillies and tons of herbs. It looks like everything from all types of climates thrive here.
The town itself is really pretty, with dozens of French Colonial villas strung out along the hill tops. We caught a cable-car across one of the valleys on the second or third day and got a good look at the city from the air. It’s all crumpled up hills with the town draped over it like a sheet on a good morning bed.
There’s lots to do as well and we start to regret the decision to move on after only four days when we feel we’ve only just scrapped the surface of Dalat. It’s the beginning of the rainy season and each day starts out fine and sunny but quickly turns grey and by mid-afternoon the rain has set in, we manage to fit in a few ao the palaces and a couple of the major tourist sites but the road calls and we pile onto a bus one morning and head off to Nha Trang, it’s only about four hours away but we get to cross one of the great mountain pass roads around. Wild mountain scenes with rushing waterfalls and twisty turning bends, there’s misty fog and 1000 foot drops on every bend, it’s great for rubber necking tourists but the locals don’t seem to enjoy the views, most choosing to pull the curtains closed across their windows as we start winding our way across the mountains, they must have made the trip before because pretty soon the vomiting begins, first up the back of the bus, but quickly moving through the length of the bus past us.
Arriving in Nha Trang it’s still the wet season, it’s the beach capital of Vietnam and much hotter and the humidity is back, the city seems to have a direct service straight to Russia. Many signs in the street and most menus are in Russian, we meet a young Vietnamese guy who thinks it’s because of the weather and as he puts it with a smile “communists love communists”.
We’ve managed to score a great room in our hotel with a view straight out at the beachfront, the weather has dampened much of the enthusiasm for swimming though, and there’s just a handful of souls braving the big dumpers on the beach.
One of Nha Trangs attractions, other than the stretch of sand, is the offshore islands, there’s dozens of different tour companies offering day trips out to snorkel and dive and we sign up for one and manage to strike it lucky with a warm but hazy and dry day, it’s good to be out on the water but the snorkeling is a bit poor on this day with some murky water due to the rain.
What we do enjoy more is hiring a couple of bikes and exploring the back streets of the city, it’s flat and off the main streets the traffic is nice and quiet, we stop by a couple of photography galleries and admire their work. It’s a very pleasant way to spend the day.