Lang Bian and Truc Lam

Lang Bian is a mountain a few kilometres out of town. You can walk up for a few hours or take a jeep. We were quite lucky as there were 4 people hanging around waiting for a car to fill up (they take 6) so we joined them - otherwise we would have had to pay for a complete jeep. The views at the top are supposed to be amazing, but not if you follow our usual timetable - by the time we arrived it was all pretty hazy. Still, we had plenty of fun at the top of the mountain looking at the horses, playing with various farm implements and relaxing on the swings.

Nearby is a Lat tribe village, famous for its weaving. Since it was getting on for lunchtime and we didn't think the kids (nor us) would be interested in visiting a workshop we gave it a miss and went straight to the (very modern) cable car. This takes you o'er hill and dale to the Truc Lam religious complex. Here we saw our first Vietnamese monks (in Thailand and Cambodia they are everywhere). The pagodas were in a much more subdued style, with beautiful gardens. Much more Japanese: cosmopolitan, sophisticated and minimalistic. Your typical Thai temple is much more baroque and bling - a tad naff, provincial and nouveau riche by comparison (though still awesome and much enjoyed, don't get me wrong).

Today is our last day in Dalat. Frankly we could have spent a few more, it has been a much better experience than the two beach places we have just visited. There are quite a few more things to see here, though we have covered the essentials. Tomorrow we catch our first flight in ages all the way to Hanoi. It would have been nice to stop at Hue beforehand but we didn't think we'd really get the most out of it with the kids (mostly palaces and temples).

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