bother with the oversold Prenn and Datanla waterfalls. The
former is packed with tasteless extras – imitation wooden
walkways made of cement, faux rope bridges, tiny yachts,
and a wholly unnecessary cable car.
water is polluted, and a small army of avaricious vendors
make for a depressing experience. The Datanla
waterfall is better,
but nothing like the promotion suggests.
of Love – what’s in a name?
Serenity, gentle strolls through shady forest, trailing fingers
in the water as your boat glides silently
across the still water? Forget it! The reality is blaring
music, a proliferation of cheap souvenir stalls and the noise
and smell of motorboats. As it is, it’s best left to those
who like that sort of thing.
It’s an appropriate name, but not for the weepy lover’s suicide
legend from which it’s derived. The lake is fine, and the
forest is OK, but the souvenir shops selling stuffed wild
animals and a whole posse of Dalat cowboys is enough to make
any responsible tourist weep.
The last of the downside of Dalat’s strange idea of tourism
attractions is the Chicken Village. Once a KoHo ethnic minority
village, it’s now a heavily-commercialised operation making
inferior woven material to sell to tourists.
Authentic? The five-metre
high cement chicken that stands in the middle of the village
says it all.
And so it should, considering it’s about six metres high and
made of concrete! Accompanied by a much smaller primitive
hunter, it guards the way down to the Hang Cop (Tiger Cave)
waterfall. Once the concrete tableau is behind you, the falls
are impressive and you can scramble around on the rocks to
your heart’s content (at your own risk, of course). It’s a
good place for picnics.
Image by John Cryer and
Much closer to Dalat city is the Linh Phuoc Pagoda. It’s an
impressive building both inside and out, a whimsical example
of the art of tessellation. The expansive central hall is
dominated by a large Buddha with a colourful neon halo.
However, the best
feature is a superb concrete dragon in a garden beside the
pagoda. Its lifelike scales are fashioned from thousands of
carefully cut La Rue beer bottles, many still complete with
the familiar tiger motif.
There’s no indication of
what happened to the contents of the bottles, but the monks
are a jolly lot!
in the real world
A recommended excursion is a trip to Trai Mat village, either
a short car journey, a pleasant bike ride or about a four-hour
gentle hike there and back.
The object of the
exercise is not the village, which is unremarkable, but the
intensive market gardening around the city. It’s a fascinating
visit for anyone interested in serious gardening.
If you travel with
Haivenu, we’ll find you an expert local guide to explain some
of the more arcane techniques used to harvest nature’s bounty.
touristy, but with some merit is the Tuyen Lam Lake and the
Truc Lam Pagoda. The best way to approach them is via a recently
installed cable-car which offers excellent views of the forest
and the lake.
The pagoda is a
Buddhist meditation centre, and hence not open to visitors,
but the gardens are well designed and a riot of colour. The
far side of the lake is dense pine forests that contain a
small eco-lodge ‘tree house’ development.