Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Visiting Dalat in wintertime I had been expecting chilly and misty weather. But I’m lucky to wake up on a bright morning with honey-coloured sunshine and a blue clear sky. It’s the perfect day for a drive so my traveling companion and I rent motorbikes at Dalat Market for VND100,000 per day and set off for the hills.
Dalat Terrace, Vietnam
Following the advice of a friend we are planning to trek up Lang Biang mountain – the rooftop of Flower City – where you can camp overnight. With an altitude of 2,169m above sea level, the mountain is said to boast spectacular views. There are actually two peaks – one is called Ong (Sir) and the other is Ba (Lady).
Standing in downtown Dalat on a clear day, you can see both peaks. From afar you might think you could walk from one peak to the other but the peaks are connected together by long zigzagging path through a forest.
To get there from the city centre, you drive along Provincial Road No.722 towards Lac Duong district for about an hour. At the foot of mountain we stop at Mimosa restaurant for a refreshment.
You can leave your motorbike at the restaurant and set off on foot. There’s a 6km-trail to the top of the mountain – no doubt you can set off by yourself though we opt to hire a local K’Ho man as a guide after we negotiate a fee for an overnight camping trip.
At first the trail is easy enough – the path is sealed and smooth – but rather romantic with thick pine forest all around us. The air is fresh and you can smell the wonderful fragrances of the local wild flora as well as the pine trees.
After a two hour trek we come to the end of the asphalt trail. Our guide leads us onto a soil path that rises steeply. The trail is challenging but not so hard for anyone who’s of good health. I’m certainly no athlete and I manage to slog on.
After two hours we turn to soak in the views and remind ourselves why we’re making the effort. The stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys down below leave me speechless. We can see Dalat through the misty air. The city looks like a water-colour painting from so far away. We can also see the the Dankia River which looks like a small silk ribbon from such a height. We can even see the sea off the coast of Ninh
Chu in Ninh Thuan province. We keep trekking for another two hours and eventually the city below disappears beneath the clouds. The weather is now scorching hot as we climb down towards a flat peak where there are a number of flower gardens, restaurants, cafes and also a campsite where we will pitch our tents later on.
The wind is stronger now, the mist is thicker, too – somewhere past the thick mist and cloud cover the sun is setting. After a cup of hot coffee at a café we quickly set up our tents. Incidentally, the coffee is quite delicious – perhaps the nicest I’ve ever tasted!
Soon the temperature starts to drop dramatically. We jump inside the tents to stay warm before heading down to Langbiang restaurant for a much deserved hot dinner – we order a delicious fish hotpot, which is just what the doctor ordered.
Afterwards we sit around the campfire and chat to the other travellers. Our guide also tells us a local legend, which explains how the mountain came to be named Lang Biang. Once there was a young man called K’Lang and a young woman called Hobiang – they were from different tribes but both lived near the foot of the mountain and one day, they had a chance encounter. It was love at first sight but they could not get married as their clans were sworn enemies.
Ignoring the age-old codes, K’Lang and Hobiang eloped to the highest peak in the mountains to be wed. But one day Hobiang became ill and K’Lang was forced to seek help from her clan. But Hobiang’s fellow tribesmen attacked K’Lang and killed him but they also accidentally killed Hobiang with a misdirected poisonous arrow. Hobiang’s father felt so guilty and remorseful he called a truce between the warring clans.
Both Hobiang and her husband K’Lang were buried on top of the mountain, which was renamed Langbiang in honour of their eternal love.
Dalat travel related sites: