On Day 9 (our second day in Da Lat), we went to visit some parks that are famous in Da Lat.
Remember when I said everyone in Vietnam is always trying to make a buck? Well, at these parks, after you pay a price to enter the place, you will suddenly find yourself mobbed by the park’s photographers, asking if they can take pictures of you and make them into cards, calendars, etc for a low price. And you can’t just politely say, “No, thanks, I have my own camera,” because these photographers will keep popping out of nowhere and asking you to the point where you say, “Fine! Just take the damn pictures!”
But by the way, the pictures in this entry are the ones taken using my camera, and not the numerous photographers my mom paid.
Well the first park that we went to is the Flower Garden, which was advertised virtually EVERYWHERE in Da Lat.
And get ready, here are some of the awkward photos that we were pressured into and that I volunteered to be in:
By the way, the way it works with these horses is that you get charged by the prop handler (which may be a horse, carriage, car) for each pose you take. So if you’re smart and very frugal, you’ll stay in one pose and tell your party to take a bunch of photos and tell the prop handler to shut up about it. But if you’re new to this experience, you’ll probably be tricked by the handler’s suggestions to lean forward, or hold a prop gun, or wear a different hat, all of which you will be charged for. We were tricked only five or six times.
Also, my mom was tricked in a way that, well, actually shame on her. One photographer asked my mom if he could take a few pictures of us to make us a calendar. My brother and I said “Hell no” but my mom said, “Sure!” A while later, he came back with our calendar package and it featured some of the worst and most awkward pictures of us. One was a blown-up picture of me with my eyes closed. And they charged us $50 USD for that crap. My mom protested about the price, but the photographer said that the prices were posted everywhere in the park, and he was right. My mom learned her lesson after that. Not.
And…there were a bunch of pictures of me on horses, but they were extremely unflattering so I’ll include some some of me at the next park below.
So after that we took a taxi ride to the “Garden of Love.” Seriously, how many gardens are there?
(The two wine glasses above are made with hundreds of real wine corks.)
And we posed for more photos, but at least this time they were a tiny bit more flattering.
By the way, minus the hat, this was actually my outfit that I had left the hotel wearing:
Me with a probably unlicensed version of Mickey and Minnie:
By the way, there are some pictures of my brother, but I am being nice and trying not to post pictures of him online without his permission (because he can be rather vain, like me).
Oh and my mom got talked into dressing up like a member of the indigenous tribes who used to (and may still) live in Vietnam:
Maybe it’s worth mentioning that my mom occasionally used to be a model decades ago when she was really young before the war broke out (she had also been featured in a chaste calendar like “girls of Vietnam” or something like that), so she had fun kind of getting back into the swing of things.
My brother wanted me to take a picture of the photo pricing, because he thought the idea of the hoochie photographer was hilarious:
Then we went to visit a church or, um, I’m not sure what the place actually is, but I think it’s a religious landmark.
The only thing I remember about this place was that its gift shop was the only shop in Vietnam that we have entered without being followed around and hassled into buying something. The sales associates actually politely kicked everyone out at noon to close for lunch, something you would never see in any other Vietnamese shop.
So we went out for lunch too.
By the way, I keep forgetting to take pictures of most of the things we eat, but here’s one of the things we had for lunch that day. You basically wait until the soup boils at your table, and then you toss in all the ingredients:
Oh and speaking of food, our hotel in Da Lat had a very nice complimentary breakfast buffet every morning. It wasn’t the usual “continental” muffins, it was actually real food, but alas I kept forgetting to take my camera to breakfast.
And speaking of our hotel, here are some nice views at the end of our hall:
Then we went to shop at the big Da Lat indoor market:
Upstairs, it featured your usual souvenirs and counterfeit clothes booths. Downstairs it had a literal meat market:
Then we went to the downtown square some more:
This is a little bit disturbing to me, mostly because the fish have to swim all day in plastic bags:
That night we had dinner at a disgustingly unsanitary, but surprisingly popular restaurant. That “Food over rice” sounds especially appetizing.