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Dalat – Nha Trang

My mother slept for over 12 hours but when you awoke, she felt much better, though still not good enough to try her hand at walking 9 holes. So, she stayed around the hotel in the morning as we went to a few “sites” in Dalat which include a “crazy” hotel, botanical gardens complete with minority band dressed in traditional garb and an impressive workshop for silk embroidery art (surprisingly interesting). Honestly, there isn’t much to the sites here – the surrounding landscape is really the beauty of Dalat and in the capitalist rush to make money from tourists, this is somewhat lost.

But don’t let that leave you with a bad impression of Dalat. It is a very pretty place to go, easily compared to some little village in the french alps. My father kept saying “I don’t know what I expected to see here in Vietnam, but I didn’t expect this.” Dalat is clean and bustling with activity. Capitalism is in full swing and yet it isn’t over the top. It is a nice place. If you do make it to Vietnam, I recommend staying 3 days to enjoy it. I just don’t recommend spending too much time on the “sites. Just walk around and maybe go off for a picnic in the hills or something.

Or play golf.

The golf course in Dalat is rated #1 by Golf Digest Magazine for courses in Vietnam and it is easy to see why. Surrounded on all sides by the city, the trees mask out almost all parts of city life and instead you easily feel as if you’re playing in the country. Mom didn’t play because she didn’t feel well enough to walk and that was a shame as it was a great 3.5 hours on the course.

We all got a caddy, clubs, 6 golf balls and some tees for the low price of $45 USD. A good deal for playing golf and actually the most expensive tourist activity Kelly and I have embarked on since we arrived. Bjut it was well worth it as the course is beautiful, the weather was perfect and ladies (all caddies here are female) were excellent cheerleaders and golf experts, constantly helping us with our club selection and putting .

I have no idea what we shot, but I’m pretty sure it was pretty poor. Dad says he shot a 56 on the front 9 but even that seems a bit generous. Being Kelly’s first time on a full-length golf course (we’ve played some executive courses before), she did amazingly well. I have this great video to prove it…

She now is excited to play when we return to Seattle though she tells me she needs a set of lessons and TWO golf gloves so that her hands don’t get all blistered…

They next day we hopped in the minivan at 8am and started the 170km drive to Nha Trang, the main tourist beach of Vietnam. 170 km also means just over 3 hours on the roads here. For SE Asia, that ain’t bad and the drive was pretty nice once you got past some bumpy parts in the beginning. The scenery was also beautiful as we crept through the mountian passes of the central highlands and back to the coast.

Nha Trang is prettier than I expected, surrounded by hills on either side and with islands in the distance of the China Sea. Most Vietnamese don’t like the sun and therefore the beach stays pretty empty. We have a pretty nice hotel right across the street from the beach (hotels aren’t allowed ON the beach) and we spent the day there today before walking down to a Seafood restaurant popular with the locals.

The meal was delicious. We ordered large prawns grilled in salt and chilis along with a chicken cooked the same way. Mom and dad got fried rice, also very good and we shared a plate of morning glory fried with garlic. The guys had a few San Miquel to help wash down the hearty lunch and now we’re back in the hotel nursing our slightly toased skin (turns out the sun here is pretty strong).

Tomorrow we get up early and head to the Cam Ranh Bay airport for  our flight to Da Nang. We had hoped to see Cam Ranh on the way here but the new road doesn’t go there. My father served in both Cam Ranh and Nha Trang (we even saw the old airfield here – just down the street from the hotel – but it is now occupied by the Vietnamese Army and not open to visitors) and we’ll leave early tomorrow to check it out before our flight and see if it rouses any old memories for Dad.

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