A bit north of Saigon is the hill city of Da Lat. The weather is noticeably cooler. This is the vegetable growing center of Vietnam and the hillsides are covered in farms and greenhouses.
We took a ride out around town to see the major tourist attractions. First we took a peek at the crazy house. This sprawling complex is part hotel, part personal residence, and entirely a twisted experiment in architecture. Passages twist in three dimensions through corridors, up stairs, and over small foot bridges in every direction. It is every child’s dream come true and the perfect hide and seek playground.
After the crazy house, we rode to one of the palaces of one of the last emperors of Vietnam. The palace looks like a big square villa from the sixties. The furnishings had not been touched since he last moved out, and it looks like the place could use a good dusting. The highlight was the kitschy dressing room at the end where we got dressed up in colorful faux royal garb and had a photo session.
The rest of the day we rode around and toured the lesser attractions of Da Lat. We paid a quick visit to the local museum of natural history, where really badly stuffed animals graced the halls. We also visited the old railway station where the French had built a short stretch of railway. At night, we explored the fantastically large market. I finally had a chance to try a proper century egg. You take an egg and cover it with straw and lye. After a few weeks, it is done and good to eat. The egg white turns into a tea-colored jelly and the yolk is a black ball with dark oozing liquid at the center. Not quite the kinder egg surprise. It tasted remotely egg-like with a strong hint of lye. Later, we met up with Tomek and Iza and indulged in the other Da Lat specialty which is wine.