Saturday, 9 March 2013

12km hike to Datanla Waterfalls - plus a rollercoaster + a lift!

So we awoke early and all had breakfast together. Turns out the local restaurant we went to literally only had two things on the menu - eggs with baguette or noodle soup - even then we saw the woman come in loaded with baguettes she'd just bought from the market! Maura still wasn't feeling well from her drunken stint in Nha Trang (by this point we'd made the assumption she'd had her drink spiked, as it was now 3 days since), so she went back to bed for the day to rest up so she could hopefully do some sightseeing tomorrow.

Peter, Barbara, Trent and I went off in search of a tourist agency to see what our options were for today. Barbara felt like a hike but it was already 10am so they decided to do that tomorrow when me and Maura were hopefully doing our countryside tour. Instead we decided to check out the cable cars to a monastery and Datanla Waterfalls which were one of the most famous waterfalls around this area of Vietnam, plus we'd heard there was a rollercoaster involved which had us sold. Only problem was it would cost us some dong to either rent a car or a taxi to get us there. But we then found out after much quizzing of the tour rep, that it was only 5km to the cable cars, then the waterfall was a further 1km after we'd gotten to the monastery - or a 12km walk straight to Datanla. So we decided sod it, even though it was baking out and it'd be trekking up and down hills, we'd walk it as we'd get to see some local life on the way. So we went back to the hotel to change into suitable atire, loaded up with water and set off. Barbara is an expert at hiking and map reading so she powered on ahead making me and the guys look like OAP's struggling up the hills. We managed to make it out of Da Lat into the surrounding hills with some spectacular views and stopped at a hillside cafe for some beer and coffees. We then powered on to the cable cars...but as luck would have it they had closed them until half 1 and it was only midday...on we walk then!

So we decided to walk the rest of the way to Datanla and maybe check out the monastery on the way back if we had time. We walked for almost 2 solid hours down a frickin' main road into/out of Da Lat to get to these waterfalls. The locals all looked at us as they drove by like we were crazy - which we were as it wasn't the safest road to walk along! Barbara and Trent powered on up ahead while me and Peter held up the, way behind (though I will say it was mainly me with my stupid foot!).

Upon reaching the falls around half 2 we realised there was loads to do -  you could visit 3 of the waterfalls without a guide, the first one you could take the rollercoaster to, the 2nd you could take a cable-car to, and the 3rd there was a lift with no other way to get down - lazy much?! So before we did the hard trek down (ha) we had lunch at the restaurant there as we were starving and tired out. Then we picked up our rollercoaster tickets (Peter and I got return tickets as we didn't fancy the hike back up, Trent and Barbara got single tickets, being the more adventurous) and we waited in line until it was our turn to load up, strap up and speed up...

Well, this rollercoaster was more a bobsled; you could control the speed but most of the time you were waiting for the Vietnamese people in front to hurry the hell up as they obviously don't have the western need for speed! So after a few stops and a few proper pelters down this coaster (once the people in front had gone ahead) we arrived at the first falls which were stunning, but would have 
been better had there not have been an overload of tourists there! Chance for a few photos though, got a waterfall 'jump' picture - a must! Then instead of getting the cable cars to the 2nd falls, we decided to just trek down to them as it wasn't far, these were stunning too and most of the other tourists didn't make it past the 1st falls (thank god for lazy people), so it was quieter...and quieter still at the 3rd falls, but you had to get a lift down to these, as there was no other way. Another sly way of getting a few extra 20,000 dong from the tourists grrrrr! We stayed at the last falls for a little, sat on the rocks in the middle chatting for a wee bit after a bit of a mission getting onto them! You could go to other falls but only with a guide as the trail was steep and you had to be on a tour which was mega expensive. 

So then around 4pm we elevated, hiked and coastered back up to the top and then had a celebratory beer before heading on another small venture (1km but in Vietnamese this means like 2-3km), to the lake, as we decided it'd be nicer to watch sunset there than at the monastery and getting the cable cars back, plus it'd be more fun trying to find our own transport back. So we stayed at the lake until sunset and considered hiring out the love swan peddle boats as Da Lat is the Honeymoon capital of Vietnam, but they wanted way too much dong so we decided to just have some Pho Bo instead (beef noodle soup) at a local eatery and then head back. While we were sat eating and chatting, the guys were talking about their 2 other friends who were meeting us from Nha Trang and whaddya know? They suddenly materialise at the same spot as were were at the lake - talk about speak of the devil!

So we arranged a taxi with the woman who served us our Pho (she knew someone, who knew someone, who knew a taxi driver - as everyone does in Vietnam) and we shared it with the girls (Sonya and Clara, also Czech) back to our hotel. We then all freshened up and, along with Maura who had started to perk up, went out for local food, tried some more market food and wondered the night market again. Me and Maura got some local sweets and some fresh fruit cordial for our Vodka which may come in handy in Mui Ne or for our bus journey there. We then all headed back to the hotel earlyish as Sonya and Clara were renting out mopeds, me and Maura were touring the countryside and the guys and Barbara had a hike up a mountain the next day so we all had to be up early. We just chatted, I rang mummykins as it was her birthday and Mother's Day tomorrow, then got ready for bed and slept.

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