Dalat, day 1

Vietnamese flag
We woke up at 5am and headed to the airport. It was a comfortable 2-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City. However our connecting flight to Dalat required several hours’ wait, so we left the airport, took a short city tour, had a pho lunch and walked around the Ben Thanh market where we were accosted by lots of eager vendors who tried speaking to us in different languages. It was stuffy and uncomfortable, although the food section looked interesting.
Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is just as crazy as ever, but we haven’t had any accidents crossing the road, touch wood, and I hope we never do. However, just when we thought that the multitude of motorcyclists were also fairly safe due to their relatively low speeds, we heard a crash and our van driver swerved to avoid hitting two riders who had collided on the road. I managed to whip out my camera and snap the scene just as we passed them:
Road accident!
Around Chinatown I spotted this pair of best friends walking down the street. Aww…
Best of friends
I was also kept amused when we drove down a very long road with my name in it – Vo Van Tan. Woohoo! I kept snapping so many photos of shop signs with my name. If you’re bored you can play the game and spot the Van Tans in each photo starting from the one below (similar to Where’s Wally). I like this photo the most because it incorporates Apple’s logo into the signage, and you know I love Apple, although ironically the shops here are advertising unlocking services!
Spot the Van Tan (big hint: I love Apple)
We returned to the airport and took the connecting flight to Dalat. We took a shuttle from the gate to the steps of the plane. However just then it started to rain very heavily, and an airport ground services officer took out an umbrella to shield us one by one to the plane, but it didn’t make much difference as the wind blew the water into the vehicle and onto everyone.
The driver closed the doors for about a minute, reopened them and by then, amazingly, the winds had subsided. I had checked the CNN weather report earlier and learnt there would be thunderstorms for the next few days. Seeing the erratic weather made me think that our golf would be a washout as well 🙁
We got into the small plane with some pushing and shoving. I was a bit annoyed with a local woman who pushed me forward when there was already so little space to move. I glanced sharply at her and she took her hand off me. The plane ride was only about 45 minutes. However the turbulence and murky weather made me more apprehensive, especially when the small plane felt like a rollercoaster plunging up and down.
Then as we filed out of the plane, a beautiful scene awaited us. Cool air, too. It made the trip feel worth it.
We arrived at our hotel and I was happy to discover the free wireless provided in the room! However it is rather slow and I will probably not be chatting much online.
I went for a Vietnamese massage in our hotel and boy was it different from what I get in Singapore. Firstly, for 45 minutes we pay just over S$4! (At this point, some Singaporeans may sound like little birds going cheep cheep!) We were taken to a foot bath inside what felt like a sauna and my feet turned red. As it was crowded, we waited some time before any masseurs attended to us 🙁 But what struck me was that the masseurs – all ladies – were wearing mini skirts! I was wondering if that was the norm in Vietnam as I haven’t had a massage here before.
Anyway, my masseur covered her skirt with a towel just before sitting down and I was a bit relieved because otherwise it could look a little obscene. But when she sat down the towel got caught on my toes, and another masseur laughed at her. Gabra! What made it more interesting was … after the regular leg massage the masseurs would climb onto your massage chair/footstool and click your knees and finger joints one by one! Finally, for the back massage they would climb BEHIND you as you’re sitting upright on the massage chair, and massage/pound your back! I’ve never had a massage so close up with any masseur before, clambering onto the same chair with me. It was a weird yet amusing experience and I was trying to keep myself from grinning. Oh well, if you’ve experienced this before, do let me know, and if you haven’t and want to check it out, I can give you the name of the hotel…. in private!!
I just showered and am going to bed now. Uploading more Flickr pics. Tomorrow we play our first family game of golf. I am apparently the 2nd best player in the family after my Dad (i.e. the only one with a PC), and so unfortunately I will not be given as much chance … I hope all that hanging around Annika Sorenstam will rub off on me!