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8 - Into the Central Highlands

Kon Tum

Kon Tum is supposedly the friendliest town in Vietnam - think probably because it is not famous for anything else! However, we immediately noticed the lack of people selling to us and the amount of kids shouting ''hello, hello, hello' with big smiles was drastically on the increase. We checked into the nice Family Hotel, with a balcony room overlooking the garden - perfect place for getting our smalls dry! We started to feel the baking heat of SE Asia for the first time and a planned hike became more of a gentle meander as our bodies waned. Walked through one of the traditional villages with a communal Rong House where all the villagers meet up. Good bit of banter with the bakery boys as they realised they were pretty short next to Bryn....and Fi! Discovered excellent egg, dried fish and salad baguettes at roadside stalls for only 15p - nice!

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Buon Ma Thout
Headed on to the home of rubber plantations in Vietnam and also the coffee capital ...Buon Ma Thout. Tried to organise a national park trek in town through an agent but were being quoted $100 a day without transport and sleeping in a tent - they had gotta be having a laugh! Headed to the village of Ban Don ourselves, where the national park HQ is base to try and cut out the middle men (Bryn likes lean supply chains!). Got a 'local' bus, which was hilariously packed, and we kept knocking people out with our big rucsacks. However, the locals found us very amusing and were very friendly - albeit with limited comms. Stayed in a basic stilt hut which was fun - although not the most comfortable environment for washing and relieving! Lots of dogs with scars and a monkey in a small cage :( Headed off the next morning to play negotiating hardball with the park ranger. He was not budging on price even though when he tried to break it down at our request it made no sense. We later found out that the government runs all tourism in the province and so it is basically take it or leave it - which is why they never get any damn tourists! (I would love to see their business plan!). The only other tourists we met also walked away based on the ridiculouus prices levied - oh well, still nice to have some adventure again for the first time since China. Did manage to have our frst ever elephant ride (see piccy below!) - Fi got rather excited.

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[b]Dalat[/b]

Arriving into Dalat we commenced our biggest accomodation search trek to date. We were convinced that there must be some lovely place to stay in this colonial French hillside town. Sadly we couldn't find it! Heading out that night Fi was amazed to run into an eBay colleague from Richmond who we had dinner with and shared flashpacking stories.

Dalat is the home to vietnamese wine, because of its elevated cool climate so it was perfect for apair of wine bores from the UK! We splashed out on the top wine made in partenrship with a french cooperative - if that is the best they make they should stick to the rice spirits! Bit of subtelty with the oak would have been nice - felt like we were licking the barrell!

Dalat was perfect for doing our own thing and we immediately hired a tandem bicycle and set off round the lake. An interesting experience...particularly the hills.

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Visited the local flower garden...

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Loved Emperor Bao Dai's art deco palace....

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The cable car ride.....

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The reservoir....

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And some waterfalls....

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Bravely hired a motorbike and set off to climb a mountain - and were glad to suffer just a flat tyre on the way there. Couldn't believe our luck when we discovered this next to garage....which only charged us 40p for the fix! We loved a day walking up Lang Bian through the jungle up into the clouds.....

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And then we were on the bus....quickly descending down out of the hills down to the beach :)

Posted by FiColes 05:44 Archived in Vietnam

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