Published on September 21st, 20129
Chiang Mai? Dalat? So Which Izzz It???
I know, the suspense is killing you. So what did I decide? Where will the TravelnLass call “home” for the next… [insert: X number of weeks/months/years here]? With but 3 “votes” from my readers (thanks Four Letter Nerd, James & Laurie!) clearly neither Dalat nor Chaing Mai loomed as a landslide victor.
Truth is, I swayed to ‘n fro the pros and cons of each place while traversing desert and mountain for a full month in Mongolia. And tapped my heart deeply to determine just where my true druthers might lie. And by the time my plane touched back down in Saigon, it was… Chiang Mai that was in the lead. I’d pretty much decided that CM offered the most robust spot to settle down and begin a new chapter in my crazy, nomadic life. BUT…
O.K., o.k. – I shan’t keep you hanging any longer: Strangely, from the moment I stepped back into Vietnam, I fell in love with this remarkable country all over again. And seeing my dear friend Hang again – it was…
There’s just something about this country (more to the point, about the PEOPLE of this country) that is just so darn endearing. And seeing Hang, I suddenly realized that I simply wasn’t “done” with Vietnam. I needed to stay awhile longer and follow my original “bliss” to… Dalat.
Of course there was also a bit of the pragmatic involved in my decision. You see, I still have nearly a full month left on my Vietnam visa – it doesn’t expire until 10 October. Coincidentally, at about the same time as my trip to Australia (30 October). So… I figure, why not give Dalat a go as long as I’m (legally) here? And… by the time my Vietnam visa expires, I’ll best know if I want to head to Chiang Mai (I can easily get a 30 day Thai visa for free arriving by air), else – renew my visa here in Vietnam. Indeed, will have already tested the waters for teach jobs in Dalat, and possibly even finagled a year-long work permit.
And I must say – once I’d finally made the decision to head to Dalat, I became very excited about the move. It was great to see Hang again (and of course, it will be easy for her to come visit me in Dalat), and I enjoyed a quick drop-in to our regular Wednesday night English Club in Saigon. But by week’s end, I was anxious to get going. So I gathered my *FIVE*(!!!) backpacks/suitcases (albeit all small carry-on size, but still…) I’d stored at Hang’s house, plus… my yummy hand-made felt rug I dragged back from Mongolia, shipped it all by bus (total weight about 100 pounds!, but cost: just 170,000 dong – about 8 bucks), and… hopped on an 8 hour bus to Dalat.
Which brings us pretty much (but not quiiite) to the present. Suffice the moment that bus neared the idyllic town of Dalat – my jaw-dropped anew. The beauty of the mountains laden with g.r.e.e.n. verily took my breath away. In short, Dalat was even more beautiful than I remembered, and suddenly I couldn’t imagine how I’d considered living anywhere else.
Long story short, I (miraculously!) found THE most heavenly place to live here in Dalat – an adorable private apartment at a French B&B called “L’Auberge Ami“. Located on the outskirts of the town center, within walking distance of Dalat University (where with any luck, I might teach), this delicious haven is set amid the most lovely gardens (with a profusion of flowering vines, canopied swings, a hammock, etc.). Furthermore (as if all that weren’t enough) – my sunshiny (*8* large windows!) place overlooks a small lake!
Seriously. This place is like a fairytale. Not even in my DREAMS could I have hoped to find such a lovely place to live. A bit more than I wanted to spend ($400 per month – a fortune by Dalat standards, but all the $250-$300 hotel rooms I looked at were decidedly dreary), but still less than I paid for my place in Saigon.
And my landlady “Mai” is such a dear – about my age, widowed, with a daughter in Florida, and she even speaks a smidge of English. Already she’s kindly taken me to town (on her motorbike – she’s an inspiration, and gives me courage to finally learn how to drive one myself!) to buy a microwave and an electric hotplate (so I’m now all set w/ my own little kitchen). Even sweeter – each morning she brings me little treats – a fresh baguette, lettuce and cherry tomatoes from the garden, a mango, pomegranate, persimmon, etc. I tell ya – it simply doesn’t get any better than this!
Clearly I have much to do to truly settle in here – like learn to drive a motorcycle, or… possibly buy an electric bicycle; plus I want to get a private tutor and finally tackle the Vietnamese language. And of course, eventually check out the options for teaching here. But suffice for now, I’m totally enchanted with my new life, and I leave you with a few more pics…
And now that I’m settled again – tune in soon, for details (and lots of pics) of my many adventures in MONGOLIA!