Homesick French would call Dalat, Le Petit Paris. It is a charming hill station in Vietnams Central Highlands and maybe it was more deserving of the title in colonial times, but these days it is the usual urban sprawl with mad traffic that you see everywhere throughout the developing world. There are some charming old colonial villas left and the lake is very scenic, but the main draw for me was the pleasant climate. After many months of hot tropical conditions, it felt nice to be in more temperate surroundings. I had almost forgotten the joy of a hot shower
The sleeper bus was very pleasant and it was the first time that I’d seen one outside of China where they are very common on long distance journeys. It took about 8 to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat. The hotel seemed another shabby dig with a family in the lobby watching a television on which Mark Wahlberg was screaming in rather high pitched Vietnamese, but the room was really nice and the next morning I was surprised with raucous sunlight streaming through my window. Loved it. Went out for a walk around the lake and there were many flowers.
The second day I went back to the park with my watercolours to have a go at the bonsai trees in the park, but to no avail: I have yet to learn how to do foliage… Soon it began to rain and I went back to my hotel to work on the painting of the wooden man that I had photographed in the Jade Emperor Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. The result is shown above.
It also appeared that the wooden man in fact was a man made of papier mâché.
When I came back from my breakfast down the street, I saw a woman sitting at the side of the road selling dragon fruit and I decided to buy one for a still life. The woman urged me to choose another one and it was difficult to explain to her that I bought it for its artistic qualities rather than for its taste….
The iconic conical hats and the typical yokes are remarkably common in the streets… The big spiky fruit in the front are durians.