Today (or yesterday, dependent on when I publish this post) marked my last journey in Vietnam.
I still have a few days more here, in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon, as many Vietnamese people still call it), but this was my last journey across the country.
Before setting off by bus for a few hours in Nha Trang to there catch an overnight train to HCMC, I went to see Da Lat’s Crazy House.
If you like Gaudi’s work in Barcelona or paintings by Salvador Dali, you would love this place.
The Crazy House, as the locals call it, is the work of Dang Viet Nga. She’s an architect and after gaining a PhD in Moscow she moved to Da Lat in 1983.
Instead of submitting plans for this building, in 1990, she submitted paintings.
It probably helped that her father was the former General Secretary of the country.
The house is actually multiple dwellings within a small complex inspired by and shaped like a tree. You climb up stairs in roots and branches to visit the different rooms.
Dang is now nearly 80 years old but still working on the house.
Leaving Crazy House, I headed off to catch the bus.
I am really lucky that I have a mild neurosis/anxiety about catching buses and trains and always arrive ‘unnecessarily’ early.
The very nice manager at the office explained that while my ticket said the bus departed at 12.30, the bus would actually arrive at 11.15 to transfer me to another bus.
While 12GoAsia (the online company I have used for rail and bus tickets) have been superb with all of my bookings, they don’t always seem to include these details in the correspondence. It’s likely that this is because they don’t know, so it is always worth checking with the actual transport provider).
As it turned out, I was actually transferred (or sublet) to another provider.
The driver who took me to the second office (which was only 5 minutes walk away from my hostel) escorted me in to explain the situation to the manager.
The service may seem convoluted but people are always so helpful.
When the paperwork was printed, I was highly entertained by how many additional statements were stamped on to it.
This document has more stamps than my passport.
The bus wasn’t actually leaving until 1pm.
The journey back down the mountains to Nha Trang is definitely one of my favourites on this trip.
It is so beautiful.
The dark green conifer forests eventually give way to the bright green of the rice fields. Before that happens, there are the ravines to cross and the waterfalls and cascades to see.
I noticed several cleanings had been created in the woodland for more holiday. The red-brown colour of the soil makes this starkly clear.
Again, the bus passed miles of greenhouses.
Apparently, these are a relatively recent phenomenon – starting to appear fifteen years ago. Prior to that, the flowers would be in the open air, making the drive into Da Lat even more stunning.
Times have changed.
While the visibility of the flowers has decreased, the frequency of flooding has increased.
The placement of the greenhouses has reduced the land area and therefore absorption of rainfall. The water goes directly to the rivers which cannot cope with the volume, creating a flood issue where previously there was none.
August 2019 was particularly challenging.
The bus arrived in Nha Trang and I made my way to the railway station, paying it a little more attention than I did on arrival.
It’s a very small station – certainly nothing to compare with the huge city stations I travelled through in China – but it was quite pretty, lit up in the dark.
There were two small waiting areas, one immediately in front of the ticket counter, where I was utterly delighted by the timetable.
The timetable obviously doesn’t vary enough to have anything other than a (semi) permanent display.
I’m about to catch the overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City, or Sai Gon, as it is still clearly referred to, despite an official name change nearly 45 years ago.