Violet Versus Vietnam

Violet's sporadically-updated Vietnam blog documenting her year of teaching English in Tra Vinh and further adventures in Da Lat

The most depressed crocodile in southeast asia

Dien Hong Park, Pleiku. Vietnamese zoos break my heart. The only water in the tiny enclosure was a filthy, toilet-sized puddle, and people were just standing around throwing rocks and garbage and lit cigarettes at the poor thing. 

I was tempted to push one of them over the fence. Perhaps that would have cheered the crocodile up. 

I eat too much: a retrospective

I eat too much banh mi

I eat too many meaty soups 

I eat too many pancakes because I finally figured out how to make them fluffy without baking powder 

And I had to eat them with chocolate ice cream because I didn't have anything else to put on top. Other than fish sauce. 

And I had to eat them with chocolate ice cream because I didn't have anything else to put on top. Other than fish sauce. 

I eat too much seafood for someone who lives in the mountains

I eat too much of this meat cake and I don't really know what it's made of..

And I eat too much Vietnamese pizza even though it is covered in carrots and peas and corn and little poops of sweet potato mousse

I wear a hat and go on an adventure: secret shrine edition

Two-face!

Two-face!

The shrine of Nguyen Huu Hao -- father of Nam Phuong, the last empress of Vietnam -- is half-hidden in a pine forest on the edge of Da Lat. The internet informs me that his official title was "Pierre Nguyen Huu Hao, Duke [or possibly Marquis] of Long-My," but not much else, other than that he was very wealthy and very Catholic, and Nam Phuong had the shrine built in 1939. I'm sure that the ancient groundskeeper who lives in a hut at the foot of the hill knows some more secrets, but he was very busy sharpening a machete and didn't want to talk to me. 

Ten million billion treacherous steps covered in slippery pine needles.

Ten million billion treacherous steps covered in slippery pine needles.

The shrine is pretty much deserted and in the process of being eaten by the forest, but, rather than feeling abandoned and spooky like so many other old places here, it's peaceful. Enchanted. Maybe it was just the stone lions, but the place gives me Asian Narnia vibes. I really wouldn't have been surprised if a goat-man had suddenly popped out from behind a tree. 

roof sprouts

roof sprouts

Picnic time

Picnic time

Forgotten places: the old French swimming pool

In my imaginary, alternative tour of Dalat*, we skip the emperor's palace, the villas and the train station, and instead get our French colonial fix here, on an abandoned hilltop on the edge of town, behind a gas station and some cabbage patches:

It looks more like the ruins of some Central American temple now, so it's hard to imagine what it was like in 1942, full of bathing French people escaping the Saigon heat on holiday in the mountains.

* The tour also includes eel-fishing in Xuan Huong Lake, visits to my two favorite cemeteries, and wraps up with everyone breaking into the Dalat Palace golf course through a hole in the fence on the southeast side.