My next stop was a city in the highlands called Dalat. It was a 4 hour bus ride from Mui Ne and a million miles away. The days are mildly warm and the nights get a bit cooler. Definitely a nice change after the hotter weather in the south. I visited a Zen Monk named Vien Thuc at the Lam Ty Ni Pagoda who has been painting Zen painting for the past 52 years (he is 62 years old). A very nice character always willing to show you around the pagoda and his paintings. He is very prolific and has thousands (no exaggeration) of paintings he has done over the years. He sells them for a small amount and carries a digital camera around and has a photo taken with anyone who buys a painting. He has actually had a number of art shows over the years (including in the USA) and was featured in the Smithsonian Magazine in August of 2005.
Dalat is a nice city set in the hills with a lake in the middle (about 7k all the way around), with a Flower Garden on one side and bordered by the town on the other. Walking around the city I sometimes felt that I had left Vietnam and was walking in any small city at home. Really weird. The picture here is of my friend Dave and I in the flower garden.
Vietnamese New Year Preparations
The Vietnamese New Year, otherwise known as Tet starts on the 29th of January and everywhere you go people are getting ready. Some are cleaning out their houses, painting fences and buying candy and other treats for the celebrations. As you can see here, kumquat trees are a symbol of good luck and are sold throughout the country for Tet.
To round out my stay in Dalat, Dave and I took a swan paddle boat on the lake. A nice way to spend a gorgeous afternoon.
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