Vietnam can be a surprisingly amazing country due to its unexpected diversity. Today we were lucky enough to experience some of Vietnam’s extremes.
Our morning was spent in Mui Né, a stunningly quiet palm-fringed beach town filled with sand dunes and hard-working fisherman. While not as warm as, say, Thailand, it’s warm enough that we were cooking in the sun waiting for our bus to pick us up and bring us to Dalat. Dalat, on the other hand, sits at 1475m altitude. The drive was filled with twist, turns, blind corners and a narrow, steep road up the mountains and through jungle and coffee plantations. Just stunning, jaw-dropping scenery.
Once we arrived in Dalat, the sun had set and the weather had cooled – it was darn right chilly. I got excited about cooler weather and wearing layers, and happily donned jeans, wool socks, long sleeve weather, a hoodie and a shell. I even wore my Cambodian scarf, and was happy to have it.
Vietnamese living here also seemed to think that it was cold – we saw many bundled up in wool hats, thick scarves and puffy goose jackets. Just looking at what everyone was wearing, you’d think it was past freezing out here. Honestly though, I have to say that we had no idea as to just how cold it really was. Considering that on the morning we left Saigon, where I felt that it was really comfortable out and a sign on a building said that it was 29 ̊C, our heat perspective is clearly skewed. It turns out that it wasn’t that cold at all, probably around 15 ̊C, but used as we now are to hot weather it was a big difference. I think that’s why the locals also dressed up so much – it gets quite warm during the day here in spite of the altitude and so they are used to liking the warmth.
With all of the coolness in the air, it was the first time that we really started to feel the spirit of Christmas. For the last month we’ve been seeing Christmas decorations going up everywhere, but it just doesn’t feel the same in a tropical country: there’s something about snowmen on the beach that doesn’t feel quite right. But in the cool air, all bundled-up, it finally felt real, and quite nice. We spent the evening in a cozy, warm French-Vietnamese restaurant watching lights twinkle in a Christmas tree while sipping Dalat red wine (not advisable) and eating great food. It was the perfect way to enjoy Dalat, the season and celebrate our 100th day on the road.