After my last post, I went from Binh Phuoc to Buon Ma Thuot, a small city in the Vietnamese highlands. As I am not on vacation, and that city was refreshingly cold and remarkably non-touristic, I took the whole week to work, on my job and on my projects. That means I did not spend a lot of time being a tourist, and had nothing to post about. Buon Ma Thuot was a very pleasant experience mainly for two reasons: the excellent coffee and the refreshingly cool weather. It is the capital of coffee in Vietnam, which is one of the main exporters in the world. There I was told about a quite peculiar type of coffee they produce: Cà Phê Chôn, or "Weasel Coffee". In practice, coffee producers feed the coffee beans to weasels, let their digestive systems somehow 'improve' the coffee, which is later... defecated, separate the grains from... the rest, and sell this 'shit coffee' for quite steep prices. I haven't tried it, mainly because I have never been into coffee at all, and it wouldn't make sense to spend so much money in something I am ignorant about, as the 'regular' coffee was enough for me - very good indeed.

After that I came to Dalat, a beautiful city also located on the highlands, with even cooler weather. Finally, the rain season started and every afternoon greets me with a blast of tropical rain, which I honestly missed.
Dalat is, from what I understand, a favorite destination of the Vietnamese tourists. It is considered a romantic city, where lovers come to enjoy their honeymoon around the lakes and waterfalls. There are far less international tourists than the other main cities, and I thoroughly enjoy that. One interesting fact about this place is that it is the only one in Vietnam that has no traffic lights. Good thing the traffic here is not nearly as chaotic as in Ho Chi Minh city.

Dalat is very different from any other Vietnamese city, or at least that is what people say. It was mostly built by the French, including the Royal Palace, before the 1950's. Most of its buildings are no higher than 2 stories, as the vista is beautiful, and people don't want to ruin it with ugly modern buildings.

I arrived here on the 29th of April, which is a national holiday (from the 28th to the 30th). On the 30th of April, 1975, the communist troops finally managed to defeat the US troops and take control over former Saigon, which was renamed after their inspiring leader - Ho Chi Minh. The whole city was out celebrating, and the party was great - good food, good live music and lots of happy people. Not surprisingly, the farther north I go, the more they are proud about their communist ways and victory over the invading troops, which had their headquarters in the south. I can only imagine what it will be like in Hanoi.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

All in all, I have not been a good tourist in the past two weeks, but have instead been enjoying what you can call 'the life of a local' - working during the day and enjoying a couple of drinks with the locals I have befriended at night. They even have a rock'n'roll bar with a jam session, which I very much enjoyed playing at - something I had not seen in Vietnam yet (Siem Reap, in Cambodia, offered a couple of great jam sessions). Talking of Cambodia, I forgot to mention something that quite surprised me about that country: many food places, both street stalls and restaurants, cook your meals with instant noodles! They are actually not that bad, after all, I imagine they have been doing this for years and can make them as good as they get, but still, this says quite a lot about the economic situation of the country. Fortunately, in Vietnam the noodles are fresh and made of rice: usually quite good.