Easy Riding in Dalat
The plan for our first full day in Dalat was for Darling Man and the kids to hang with his relatives while I took an Easy Rider motorbike tour around the surrounding countryside.
This was the plan because the baby, at five months, is too young for motorbikes and Darling Man didn’t want to pay for a tour that he thought he could do on his own.
Fair enough, I thought.
But, you know, plans change. Especially when your baby isn’t allowed to board the plane.
Darling Man spent that day getting himself and Sonny to Dalat while Miss M and I took the motorbike tour.
In some ways the tour was a disappointment. For despite repeated requests, via email and in person, for a food-focused tour, we ended up with quite a touristy itinerary.
However, the itinerary suited a four-year-old much better than the child-free super-foodie itinerary I had envisaged. Miss M later rated our Easy Rider tour as the highlight of our week in Dalat, so it all worked out in the end.
(Of course, I could have pushed harder for food stops but I didn’t.)
During our day cruising on the back of Mr Ba’s giant motorbike, we visited a popular touristy temple, a coffee plantation with a touristy cafe and a silk factory with touristy gift shop.
(Now, we could pause for a moment to play a game called pick the travel snob. Or I could just snap out of it.)
Underneath the touristy cafe on the coffee plantation, Mr Ba showed us some of the infamous “weasels” that are fed coffee beans to create what’s known as culi in Vietnamese and weasel coffee in English.
When I worked for a Vietnamese news site, I once spent half a day with a Vietnamese colleague tracking down the real name for the famed weasel species that poos out supposedly magical coffee beans. So I know this cute sleepy animal is not, in fact, a weasel but a civet cat. An Asian palm civet, to be precise.
I’d heard that farmed civet cats are miserable-looking creatures but the ones we saw seemed happy enough. Sleepy but not stressed.
There was a tray of their poo on display, for tourism purposes.
We were ushered upstairs to the touristy cafe and I figured I may as well try the touristy weasel coffee now I’d seen the weasels/civet cats and their poo.
And so I did. I couldn’t taste any notes of poo. I found it to be quite a bitter brew, even though I was drinking it with condensed milk and ice (cà phê sữa đá).
Drink done, I mentally added another item to my Disgusting Food I’ve Eaten list.
Miss M, meanwhile, was entranced by the touristy weaving display at the shop end of the cafe. Mr Ba took his cue and took us to a silk factory, featuring live and cooked silk worms.
Another item was added to my Disgusting Foods I’ve Eaten list. And Miss M was entranced by the weaving, once again.
We rode on, stopping to meet families working on silk worm ladders and harvesting green onions.
We stopped for lunch, at a cơm tấm (broken rice) joint. Where I ordered thịt kho trứng (pork and duck eggs stewed in coconut water), a dish we eat at home at least once a week.
(Gah, have you spotted the travel snob yet?)
We stopped to look at a mushroom farm, which was interesting. The “farm” was a giant funky-smelling tent, full of punching bag-shaped sacks sprouting wood-ear mushrooms.
Our final stop was a touristy theme park called Prenn Falls because Miss M wanted to see monkeys. We saw monkeys, crocodiles AND elephants, which delighted Miss M.
Rather than point out the sad demeanor of the chained-up monkeys to Miss M, I pointed up, at the gathering thunder storm and we left the theme park to rejoin Mr Ba and his big-arse bike.
Our final stop was Hồ Tuyền Lâm (Paradise Lake), where Mr Ba and I discussed doing another tour, in his car, to see ethnic minorities villages and Darling Man’s birthplace of Dak Lak. In the end this tour didn’t eventuate, mostly because Darling Man and I couldn’t get organised enough to actually book it.
We probably wouldn’t have done any of these things if Darling Man was with us. And each stop was very educational for Miss M, who is becoming more and more aware of the world with every passing week.
For US$35 for the both of us, this six-hour tour was pretty good value. Even for a bitter old travel snob like me.
Dalat Easy Rider headquarters are at 70 Phan Dinh Phung Street, Dalat. You can call in to book a tour or you can email email@example.com or call Mr Nam on +84 (0) 909 445 619. To contact Mr Ba directly, call 84 (0) 913 898 970.
6 years ago