An eccentric French style train station greets you at Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 9 Dalat the oldest train station in Vietnam. Unless your catching the train, don’t go out of your way to see the station, its not that special, not even retro special, maybe if youre a train buff…maybe. We paid about $6 USD each for a return fare including with complimentary bottled water both ways . We had a beautiful scenic ride up through Da Lats ‘City of Flowers’? you can see confusion when you see the pictures, I stand my ground on the ‘City of Temples’ re-think.
Its about a 30 minute ride to Trai Mat, when you arrive the conductor tells you, you have 45 minutes to visit 2 temples, quite a distance apart and get back on the train, the next ride is 4 hours away. It was a stinking hot day, my decision was met with great protest, but I decided we could easily kill 4 hours.
When we went to Chua Lin Phuoc in Trai Mat, (our favourite place of worship in Vietnam), we could see there was more to discover in the distance, we just ran out of time) so off we went. It was about a 1km walk up through a pretty little countryside village to Thahn That DA. Phuoc Temple. Didn’t we strike gold, this place is just so surreal, the best part of all, we had it all to ourselves. Every human headed towards Chua Lin Phuoc 😉 We were the main event in town, everyone was watching us marching in the opposite direction to all the other camera wielding whities.
There were 2 temples here, both breathtaking, the view fabulous and all the staff very welcoming, majority of the monks here were women. We walked back through the back streets & perfect alleyways, we purchased some kites, enjoyed juices at one of the street stalls and we made or way back to the Chua Lin Phuoc Pagoda one more time!!!!!.
This was our third time to this Pagoda, and we still managed to find hidden pockets. We had another great vegetarian lunch, we were recognised and greeted with smiles, as we are regulars now. We played with some really unique dogs with strange personalities that live onsite and made our way to the main hall and finally had the time to just sit for an hour, listen to the chants & take in the scope of this incredible work of art. The little ones got some souvenir laminated pics off he hall from one of the monks, they were pumped.
Our faithful train arrived like clockwork, kids killed some time with an arm wrestle or two and we took in our last look over the rolling hills and valleys on our ride to Da Lat City. We arrived back in time for a wedding shoot at the old railway station. (Vietnamese people have their wedding photos weeks prior to the big day, their portrait is displayed on a massive banner at their wedding reception).
On the way home we stopped off a the Dalat City Lake and hired a swan paddle boat for 120,000 VND for 1 hour (about $6USD), paddled around checking out the European style hills, then nearly killed ourselves trying to pedal the thing back when our time was up…never again. It would be like the worst ever date entertainment.
Upon returning to our hotel Rum Vang 2, we found house-keeping had stolen our charging DS game & IPOD. I spent the rest of the night with 4 local police in the foyer, we left them charging because we have an overnight bus the next morning. The staff suggested it was my fault for leaving it in my room. I know these things happen, but this hotel was a splurge stay, double lock doors, no balcony, 3rd floor, security camera outside our room. I was really pissed, not because of the stuff, that’s just material things, but because I had planned to bring dried fruit and flowers back for our Hoi An friends from the night markets and we wasted the whole night making a point.
Still a great day 😛 thief.
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