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Review for 6day Vietnam Tours Hanoi to Halong Bay and Tamcoc
From: "Loupel Antiquiera" loupel_antiquiera@yahoo.com
Subject: Vietnam Honeymoon Trip
To: Tom - info@deluxevietnamtours.com
Date: Monday, May 21, 2012

Tom,
Thanks for arranging our 6day Hanoi tour Vietnam to Halong bay and Tamoc. It was great. Mr Thai and the driver were very kind and know there job well. They were very patient and sure we will not be taking advantaged by vendors etc. We will surely use your Deluxe Vietnam Tour company again in our next trip to Vietnam.

Thanks & regards,

Loupel Antiquiera.
Hoquiam, Washington
Cell Phone: +639198069882
http://www.facebook.com/loupel.antiquiera


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Contact Mr/Mrs. John Fish to see how they enjoyed Vietnam Tours Hanoi to Halong with us - Add: 4059 G eelong Ballan RD, MT Wallace VIC 3342 - Australia
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Mobile 0406721727
Email: ajmfish@gmail.com
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  • Best Vietnam Tour Booking 2016, 2017: Sapa's incredibly beautiful scenery is mixed of rice paddy terraced fields carpeting the rolling lower slopes of the Hoang Lien Mountains. Thousands and thousands of naturally shaped limestone mountains in Tamcoc rise up along Ngo Dong river offering stunning scenery. Halong bay is One of New 7Natural Wonders in the world, King destination for all Vietnam tours.This Vietnam eco tour is made for those who wants to hide away from busy life in the city: 9day eco tours in Vietnam
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The highlight of Vietnam tours Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city is fascinating nature, monumental history, enrich cultures of 54 groups living in Vietnam and amazing daily life activities Hanoi - Sapa - Halong bay - Hue - Hoian - Saigon - Mekong delta - Cuchi. See details of 16day Package Tour Vietnam

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Halong bay is top place for all kinds of Vietnam holidays from adventure, culture, history... to sightseeing with amazing nature. There is always something for everyone from a young kid to an old lady. This spot is great for family trips to get away from daily repeated work and get recovered. You will bring home unforgetable memory and happy time together for further days. Surely, the relationship of your family members are the closest than ever before. This is what we would like to have most in our life. This is not the last, but it is the most important for anyone who look for the very best place for their honeymoon - Nothing is more important than this even. The honeymooners on Vietnam holiday have said that Halong bay is the top best place which you can find nowhere in the world.

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Mr & Mrs Maureen Fish - a member of group
Add: 4059 Geelong Balland RD
MT Wakkace VIC 3342
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Central Vietnam Tour reviews

Day 10: Hue - 1st city in central of Best Vietnam Tours Hanoi to Saigon
With perfect timing we pull in to the railway station. We quickly transfer a mountain of cases in record time. Our overnight ride to Hue is a 14 hour journey. The train finally arrives in Hue at 9.00 am, 1h 30minute late from our Vietnam itinerary. We remove all our luggage and transfer to our new bus and driver who take us to the Hotel for breakfast. Hue, which was the national capital until 1945, now has a population of around 340,000 and is located on the banks of the Perfume River, just a few kilometres inland from the Pacific Ocean. It is known for its manufacturing of textiles and cement but tourism is now the main industry. According to our tour leader, Thai, Hue is going to be one of our favourite cities on our Vietnam tours Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh and Cambodia.

Hue enjoys a tropical monsoon climate; the dry season is from March to August with temperatures of 35°- 40° C and the rainy season is from August to January, with an average temperature of 20° C. It is 11.45 am when we leave our hotel for the 10 minute drive to Dong Ba market which is located to the north of the Perfume River. It is a very popular shopping centre, now covering an area of 48,000 m2 attracting 5, 000-7, 000 people daily. The stalls here overflow with an astonishing variety of goods from fresh produce, tofish, clothing, toys, shoes and cosmetics etc. Our tour of the market concludes at 12.30 pm and Dong Ba market is the 1st stop for our central Vietnam tours Hanoi to Hoi An.

After a very nice lunch at the Tropical Garden Restaurant we set off for a visit to the Imperial Citadel which is on the North Bank of the Perfume River. It is a huge complex covering an area of 520 hectares. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1993. The huge fortress comprises three enclosures: the Civic, Imperial and Forbidden Purple Cities. The Citadel was designed using the rules of Chinese geomancy along with the principles favoured by the French architect Sebastian de Vauban. We walk at length through the complex which is undergoing extensive restoration work. The group enjoys a very memorable dinner and celebration at the Royal Restaurant.

Day 11: Hue - Heritage Site on Vietnam Tours Hanoi to Saigon
It is 9.00 am when we leave our hotel. It is another hot morning as we visit the tomb of King Tu Duc about 6 km south west of Hue. Construction on this elegant tomb started in 1864 and was completed in 1867. The King designed the mausoleum himself and it is set on a pine-forested hill surrounded by lotus ponds and frangipani trees. It is a tomb, but aslo the best park on our Vietnam holiday. Our next visit is to a traditional handicraft village. We see the ladies making incense sticks and the group has an opportunity to practise their skills. It is not as easy for the beginners. The locals believe that when the incense smoke goes up the Buddha looks down. We also see the ladies making conical hats from palm trees. The leaves are first dried in the sun and one lady can make 2 conical hats per day which is equivalent to $3 (USD) in wages. Lunch today is at Phuoc Thanh Restaurant - the food here is very different from that during our North Vietnam tours Hanoi to Hoi An.

After lunch, we drive to the house of the granddaughter of King No 4. After inspecting the house itself, we venture outside to see a large variety of fruit trees growing such as persimmon, mango, Vietnamese Strawberry, Jack fruit, Grapefruit, cherry tree and fig, just to mention a few. Our next visit on Vietnam tour today is to the Thien Mu (or Heavenly Lady) Pagoda which is the oldest pagoda in Hue, having been built in 1601. The 21 metre multi-tiered octagonal tower is an official symbol of the city of Hue. A pavilion close by shelters a very large bronze bell which was cast in 1710 and weighs more than 2,000 kg. Inside the ain shrine is a laughing bronze Buddha. The monks’ quarters and gardens are at the back of the temple, as well as the blue Austin car the monk Thich Quang Duc who in June 1963 drove to Saigon and gained worldwide attention when he immolated himself in protest against the Diem regime. At the conclusion of our visit to the Pagoda we walk to the Perfume River. The river has two sources, both of which begin in the Truong Son mountain range and meet at Bã Lãng Fork. From here to the Thuan An estuary, the river is 30 kilometres long and runs very slowly. In autumn, flowers from orchards upriver from Hue fall into the water, giving the river a perfume-like aroma, hence its name. Our private boat is waiting for us so we quickly embark, take a seat and enjoy a very relaxing cruise along the slow winding river. We have a very good view of the surrounding countryside and the river traffic from single oared vessels to larger boats piled high with produce. At the o letion of the day’s a tivities we return to our hotel for a wel o e shower before dinner in the Banana Flower Restaurant at 7.00 pm. The restaurant is very close to our hotel so we walk as a group, taking in the sights, and enjoy another delicious eight course Vietnamese meal. This is one of nice meals on our Vietnam travel Hanoi to Saigon.

Day 12: Vietnam Travel Hue To Hoian
It is cases out at 7.00 am followed by another delicious breakfast on another hot morning. We board the bus at 8.15 am and say farewell to Hue - one of nicest cities on our Vietnam tours. Our journey today is about 120 kilometres. The streets are already busy, with shops open and trading in the markets in full swing. One tour member has some extra luggage today. They placed an order for a pair of trousers from a tailor beside the restaurant after dinner last night and the completed garment was delivered to the hotel this morning for a cost of $10 (AUD). Our first stop is at a fishing village beside a 20,000 hectare lagoon. We stop to talk to some local fishermen who are building a boat. Figure 12 Building the boat There are 3 men working on the vessel and it will take 3 days for them to complete construction at a cost of $550 USD. It is made from timber and tin. They fish mainly for shrimp.

Figure 13 Fishing boat with nets The areas on the edge of the lagoon are used for growing rice, grazing buffalo and cultivating various fruit and vegetables. We are now in mountainous terrain. We see stalls selling eucalyptus oil on the side of the road. The eucalypt (gum) trees came from Australia 50 years ago. We also see a large pile of eucalypt wood chips which are used for paper. Vietnamese agricultural products held first and second positions in the world trade market in 2010. Export products from Vietnam are certainly gaining popularity. Fifty percent of pepper consumed in the world comes from Vietnam, and Vietnam overtook India to be the world’s largest exporter of cashew nuts. Vietnamese Robusta coffee still leads the global coffee market in quality and accounts for nearly 50% of coffee production in the world. Export prices of rice have also been as high as that of ri e from Thailand, the world’s largest exporter of rice. Aqua products from Vietnam have also sky rocketed in terms of quality and quantity.

Vietnam has also increased its export of textile and garment products to be third largest in the world. Many importers have switched from China to Vietnam, and famous brands like Adidas, Puma and Nike have chosen to build manufacturing factories in Vietnam. In reasingly more “made in Vietnam” products appear on shelves in supermarkets around the world. Brands like Vinamit dried fruits, Trung Nguyen and Vincafe coffee, Ba Nhat rattan and bamboo products, Sa Giang deep fried shrimp paste, Ben Tre coconut candy, Nhon Hoa scale, Minh Long and Bát Tràng porcelain products and Van Phuc and Ha Dong silk are all recognizable products. In addition, electronic products assembled in Vietnam are available in over 50 countries. Vietnamese furniture ranks second amongst Asian countries exporting furniture. A little further along we see another lagoon which Thai explains is a 50/50 mix of sea and river water. There are bamboo sticks protruding from the water which are there to hold the oyster shells containing pearls underwater. We are travelling on Highway no. 1 and some 30 kilometres north of Danang at the summit of Hai Van Pass there are splendid views of the mountains. We travel through the very impressive Hai Van Tunnel. The tunnel is 6.28 kilometres in length and 11.9 metres wide. Planning and design work started in 1998 but construction started in 2000 and was completed in June 2005. Planning was a joint venture between Japan, America and Vietnam, whilst construction was completed mainly by Japanese and Vietnamese companies. Motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians are not permitted in the tunnel and they rely on a shuttle service which costs 12,000 dong ($0.61 AUD), 5,000 dong ($0.26 cents), and 3,000 dong ($0.15 cents) respectively. The tunnel reduces the distance between Danang and Hue by 20 kilometres and saves between 30 minutes to 1 hour travelling time. We are soon on the outskirts of Danang, the largest city in central Vietnam, with a population of approximately 1 million, and one of the country’s most important ports. It is situated on the coast of the South China Sea and the mouth of the Hàn River.

Danang has a tropical monsoon climate with two seasons: a typhoon and wet season from September to March and a dry season from April to August. Temperatures are highest between June and August, with an average humidity of 80.6%, and we can certainly feel it today. The average annual rainfall is 2,505 mm or 98.6 inches. Danang is susceptible to damage from typhoons that cross into the South China Sea. They experience at least 6 typhoons a year. They now have 10 early tsunami warning stations, the first in Vietnam. Danang became an important military base during the Vietnam War which was used by both the South Vietnamese and United States air forces. The base was one of the world’s busiest airports, reaching an average of 2,595 air traffic operations daily. Our first stop is to the Museum of Cham Sculpture. It was founded in 1915 and showcases reportedly the world’s best collection of Cham sculture including altars, sandstone pieces, busts of Hindu gods and carvings. We drive past China Beach and see many resorts. Just southeast of the city are the Marble Mountains. These large rocky formations are made of marble. Our final destination today is to the historic town of Hoi An which is on the north bank of the Thu Bon River. It was an important trading port from the 16th- 18th century, attracting traders from China, Japan and Europe. Hoi An was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Besides its cultural and historical value, Hoi An is a favourite tourist destination for Vietnam tours and is known for its tailors and hand-crafted lanterns.

After lunch in the local Ngoc Tuyet Restaurant, we transfer to the beautiful Hoian Hotel for check in. We then reassemble in the foyer to walk through the town, seeing the numerous stalls and further along the craft and textile shops. Many amongst the group are keen to have clothes made, so we call into Yaly Couture’s which is recommended as a high quality tailor and shoe-maker. What an experience for all concerned! The staff are incredibly obliging on a very hot and oppressive day. The lovely ladies manage to serve us all with very individual requests and no sign of panic or frustration. They are very nimble with the measuring tape, quick to assist with selection and recommend suitable styles and patterns. Examples of goods ordered and received by the group: - A pair of en’s ow hide leather shoes $85.00 AUD Men’s business shirt Italian cotton $45.00 AUD Ladies 100% wool overcoat fully lined $80.00 AUD Su er fine wool and ash ere en’s ja ket $140.00 AUD Ladies silk dress $80.00 AUD Su er fine wool and ash ere en’s suit $300.00 AUD We enjoy another lovely meal this evening.

Day 13: Explore Hoian - SUNDAY 16TH JUNE
Breakfast this morning is a real treat in the beautiful gardens, with the scent of jasmine and amongst trees adorned with lanterns. After breakfast we assemble in the foyer on another hot and very humid morning for a 9.00 am departure. This morning we drive to the Trâ Que vegetable village which is well known for the quality and freshness of its vegetables. This is an example of small scale traditional farming where the biggest problem is output and lack of technology. Once again we are welcomed enthusiastically and enjoy the warm hospitality of a herbal drink of ginger, lemongrass and sugar which is very refreshing. We are all provided with a conical hat to wear and given a demonstration on its many uses. You can put it on your head, sit on it, and scoop up water with it, and one more use Thai adds is to hide behind it with a girl! Apparently it was something he used to do when he was young, but he assures us not anymore – believe it or not!

Thai introduces the farmer, Mr Qui, who explains the history of his village which was originally a fishing village. However 400 years ago they started planting vegetables because the soil was so well suited. There are 260 families in this village. Vegetables are planted all year round with no resting of the ground. The size of the total plot is 35 hectares and Mr Qui who has six in his family has an area of 700 m2 to plant. There are three generations in his family who are all working in the vegetable planting business. Only organic fertilizer is used on the vegetables. They use river weed which is washed after it is collected to remove any soil before spreading on the field. The vegetables are sold to Central Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City three times a week. The daily salary is $10 (USD) per day. The Government owns the land and it is reviewed every twenty years. The Government assesses how many family members are using the land, but nevertheless the Government always owns the land. There is a leader in the village who is usually university trained and they oversee the running of the village. This leader receives a wage from the Government. A well supplies the water and buckets are used to transport the water which is labour intensive. The group splits into two with half enjoying a foot bath in natural herbs in the shade while the remainder prepare their own plot, plant some seedlings and then finally water them. This is all done under the supervision of Mr Qui, but a good effort by the Aussie farmers. We rotate the activities so everyone has a chance to get their hands dirty.

Figure 14 River weed for fertilizing vegetables With our hands and feet all clean we take a stroll through the various plots. We see all sorts growing including onions, cumquat, sesame seed, cabbage, sage and lemongrass. There are also a few small flower plots amongst the vegetables. They do apparently have some problems with insects but do not use pesticides. We visit one small shed which is unbearably hot where one of the ladies is making rice paper. They mix the rice powder with seasoning and water in a small machine. One lady can make 300 papers in one day. The papers which are used for spring rolls are then dried in the sun. After lunch we wal k through the old town and visit some of the most prominent landmarks, including the Japanese Covered Bridge which was built in 1593. At the completion of the town walk many group members return to Yaly for final fittings or collection of their new article s of clothing and footwear. Others continue to browse through the old town and some return to the Hotel to relax by the pool. This is one of the best dinners for our Vietnam tours: We walk to the nearby Secret Garden Restaurant for a very pleasant dinner with entertainment including a guitarist and singer. We finish the evening with a rendition of Waltzing Matilda.

Day 14: Train journey to Nhatrang - an experience on our Vietnam tours Hanoi to Saigon
A very welcome relaxed start to the day this morning, with cases out at 9.00 am for a 10.00 am departure. The weather is once again very hot and humid. Ding cheers us up with a repertoire of 4 songs. He has a lovely voice. One of our members responds with a poem and song about their home town of Wodonga. We drive along large expanses of rice fields and we see the locals harvesting and collecting river weed to use as fertilizer. Once again we have a view of the sea which is rather grey and dull today. Danang is the fourth largest economic centre in Vietnam with the main industries being machinery, electrics, chemicals, ship building and textiles. Specific industrial products include aquatic products, bricks, fertilizer, cement, soap, paper, medicines, fabric and clothes. There are also many people in Danang employed in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing. Rice production and fish are the largest contributors to the economy. We see a huge amount of construction including residential properties which are all two storey, redo inantly very narrow “re tan ular lo ks” rendered in cement with very few windows, all quite small. Lunch is a little earlier than usual as we have a train to catch. Unfortunately we have a long and hot wait in the railway station before our train arrives. It is a very busy place and a struggle to find a seat. Although our train journey is long it is very interesting sitting amongst locals and some other tourists. Thai has organized a picnic dinner box for us all which is very tasty. Thai said Nhatrang is one of best place on our Vietnam tour and we are looking forward to exploring this bay city the next day. Our train is late into Nha Trang and we are transferred directly to our hotel.

Day 15: Explore Nhatrang - Second best bay on our Vietnam holiday
The group enjoys a very impressive breakfast in the spacious dining hall at the Michelia hotel. Nha Trang city has a metropolitan area of 251 km2 with a population of approximately 500,000. The city is located on the beautiful Nha Trang Bay and is surrounded on all three sides by mountains and a large island on the fourth side. The city has a tropical savanna climate with a lengthy dry season from January to August and a shorter wet season from September to December. The annual rainfall is 1,361 millimetres (54 inches). Whilst Nha ran ’s e ono y relies lar ely on touris , the shipbuilding industry also ontri utes to the ity’s e ono y, along with fishing and lobster farming. It is another hot and humid morning and our first visit this morning is to Hon Mun Island, which is in the south of Nha Trang Bay. The Island is known for the best snorkelling in the archipelago. After boarding our boat and donning life jackets, we sit back to enjoy the scenery. Many of the group members take the opportunity to do some snorkelling. At the completion of the snorkelling adventure, and after administering some first aid, the group walks backs to the jetty, where we re-board our boat which ferries us to our next visit. Our next stop is at the very interesting fishing village of Lang Chai. We disembark from our boat, transfer to a small platoon which is then drawn along by a rope to the restaurant landing, where we enjoy lunch.

Figure 15 Returning to our boat after lunch After lunch we return via the pontoon to our boat which drops us off at the Tri Nguyen Aquarium, which is located on Hon Mieu Island. The unique aquarium was built in 1971 by a local fisherman. At the completion of our tour we return to our boat for the 30 minute journey to Nha Trang. It is then a short bus ride to the Po Nagar Cham Towers which is situated on Cù Lao Mountain. The Po Nagar complex is one of the most important Cham sites in Vietnam, and dates back to the 8th century. It consists of three levels, the highest of which encompasses two rows of towers. The main tower is about 25 metres high. Of the orietinal eight towers, four remain standing. he te le’s central image is a 1.2 metre tall statue of the goddess Yan Po Nagar, with ten hands holding various symbolic items. Some tour members enjoy a relaxing visit to the Thap Ba Hot Springs. The hot muddy waters are thought to be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism and promote relaxation of the body. We are able to walk to our restaurant this evening which is in close proximity to our hotel.

Day 16: Nhatrang - Dalat, a lovely city on our Vietnam tour Hanoi to Saigon
16 After breakfast we depart the hotel at 8.00 am under overcast skies and light drizzle. Out first technical visit is to a mango farm approximately 20 kilometres from the city. En route to the farm we encounter a sea of motor bikes and scooters and numerous stalls selling produce on the side of the road. The owner of this farming enterprise is an Australian, “Mr John”, who came here in 2002 to develop the Australian Mango. In total there are 1, 000 hectares of Australian Mangoes planted in this area. There were initially two varieties, but one was too sweet and attracted too many pests, so now they just have the one variety which we see growing. The trees were planted in 2003 and they produce fruit after 2½ years. This particular plantation is 13 hectares with over 3, 000 mango trees. Usually they plant around 220-240 trees per hectare. The trees are pruned and trimmed to help increase the fruit production. Harvesting was completed here just a few days ago. Fruit is exported to Australia, and many other countries. His current trees are from Australian mango plants grafted onto Vietnamese wood stock. Mr John has a staff of about 50 people including engineers. He also has a mango processing plant.

Figure 16 Mango plantation The group is also fortunate to see his or hids rowing in “hot houses”. There are currently 2 hectares planted into orchids which are a tropical orchid. The orchids are grown in peanut shells, and are exported to many countries including Australia. The one variety is producing 13 different coloured blooms from white, to white with spots, yellow, gold, orange, pink, reds etc. Each orchid usually has 6-7 flowers or branches per plant and will last about 20 days once picked. Disease is not really a problem and we all agree they look exceptionally healthy and are resplendent with such a beautiful show of blooms. Thai flippantly remarks that the Vietnamese men are “lady killers” and like to give a lot of flowers. At the conclusion of our visit we make a presentation of a gift in appreciation and return to the bus. We are now driving through very mountainous terrain with tropical vegetation.

After a 15 minute break we continue on and it is like driving through the clouds, with very mysterious and magical scenery. We have a shorter stop to take a panoramic photo before we start to descend. Figure 17 Panoramic view Further along the vegetation changes, with pine trees dominating the landscape. Our next stop is at a coffee plantation. Coffee has been a major source of income since early in the 20th century. It was first introduced by the French in 1857. It is now second only to rice in agricultural products exported. This particular plantation is 1,500 metres above sea level and has a very high annual rainfall of over 2 metres, so it is well suited to growing Arabica coffee as opposed to Robusta coffee. Although there is only one crop per year, harvesting is not completed in one process. The harvest is undertaken manually and depends on when the tree flowers. If they only harvest green beans, they will have a low quality end product. The soil here is also excellent for coffee trees, with 70 centimetres of good top soil which is rich in nutrition. The main root from the tree is usually 50 centimetres deep and 1.2 metres long. The coffee trees take about 3-3½ years to bear beans and they grow somewhere between 80 centimetres – 1 metre high. The trees are trimmed three times a year to increase production. The trees are firstly pruned during harvesting, again before the rainy season and then in September and October, the final pruning is completed. It is important to keep a good healthy leaf production on the trees to obtain maximum production, whilst also keeping tips pruned to allow adequate sunlight to filter to the low branches. They do not use pesticides but they do plant banana, pepper, or coconut trees as shade to protect the coffee trees from hot sun. They use organic fertilizer at the base of the coffee tree. The first year it is applied at a rate of 600 kilograms per hectare, then that rate is increased when the tree produces flowers and beans. The coffee bean has one or two seeds. There are coffee trees which live to an age of 35 years old, but research dictates that after 20 years of age the tree should be cut down because of low production and re-planted. Production should not be less than 2 tons per hectare. It costs between 150 -200 million dong ($7,761 - $10,214 AUD) per hectare to re-plant. The government will only loan 20 million dong ($1,041.32 AUD) to re-plant the coffee so the farmer is forced to cut down and replant only small areas. Weeding is done by hand, but now they leave weeds up to 20-25 centimetres high.

After thanking the farmer we re-board our bus for the remainder of our journey to Da Lat. Figure 18 Coffee plantation and farmer Dalat, which is located in the south central highlands on the Langbiang plateau, has a refreshingly cooler climate. The rainy season lasts from May to October and the dry season is from November to April. The annual rainfall is 1,750 mm. Dalat has a population in excess of 200,000 and is famous for its wide variety of flower s, vegetables, fruit and wine. The area ’s main source of income is from agriculture and tourism. On our approach to the city we see literally hundreds of hot houses growing all sorts of flowers and vegetables such as orchids, roses, cabbages and cauliflowers. We are also drawn to the French style architecture. Lunch today is in the city centre and is especially tasty. After lunch we drive to the flower garden and walk around the well maintained 2 7, 000 m park. The gardens have on display 300 different kinds of flowers. There is a change in the weather approaching, so we return to our bus and drive to our hotel and check in.

Many tour members take the opportunity to explore the city and take taxis back into the city centre. The local market is huge with over 1, 000 shops and sells everything it seems from flowers to meat, handicrafts, cosmetics, candy, household appliances and hardware. However the fresh produce is incredible. There is also an opportunity to visit speciality and gourmet food outlets which are very impressive and upmarket, and a completely different atmosphere from the market. Prices however, are surprisingly reasonable. We make another visit to the local supermarket, the first one we have visited. Although it operates very similarly to the supermarkets we are familiar with, it provides quite a contrast from the markets we have seen. We are particularly interested in the ri es of their “ eat”: Whole fish 85,000 dong per kg = $4.33 AUD Duck 75,000 dong per kg = $3.82 AUD Frogs 170,000 dong per kg = $8.66 AUD Thigh bone 70,000 dong per kg = $3.56 AUD Beerenberg fruit chutney, a familiar Australian product, is selling for 147,000 dong which is equivalent to $7.48 AUD. We all enjoy another lovely dinner this evening. THURSDAY 20TH JUNE – Day 17 After breakfast we leave our hotel at 7.30 am for our first technical visit. En route we see innumerable hot houses growing fruit, vegetables and flowers. The vegetation is predominantly pine trees but there are some eucalyptus trees as well. We meet the farmer and walk down into his hot house to hear his address. Thai once again acts as interpreter. In this hot house the farmer is growing roses and gerberas. The roses are grafted onto wild rose and after 8 months they are pruned to increase productivity. Bushes that are grafted have a life-span of 5-20 years.

In this district an area of 1, 000 m2 produces an income of $10,000 USD ($11,077 AUD) per annum. Without the grafting technique the plant only lasts around 2 years and needs to be replanted after that. Caring for roses here is much less challenging than in Hanoi because of the more favourable weather conditions. Flowers from Dalat have been exported since 1960. Their main market is to China, Indonesia, Thailand, Europe, Japan, Malaysia and Australia. In total they export around 1.8 million stems per year from Dalat for a return of 170 million USD ($183 million AUD). This emphasises hai’s oint that the flower and ve eta le trade rovides u h e loy ent and stability to the Dalat area. When Thai asks his signature inquiry “any questions ladies and gentleman?”, the first question is why the roses here are not wrapped in paper like the blooms in Sapa. It is explained to us that in Sapa they wrap the blooms to prevent the roses from blooming and for the protection of the 8-12 petals. The weather is a problem in Sapa and the blooms are not grown under the cover of the hot houses like here. Also the roses in Dalat have 20-27 petals and are grown under cover so no wrapping is required. The roses in Sapa are only one third of the value of Dalat roses. We enquire about diseases on the roses such as black spot or mildew as all the roses look incredibly healthy. The response is that they do get diseases but there is certainly nothing evident in this selection. The flowers are fertilized using only organic fertilizer and currently it is an Australian dynamic lifter that the farmer is using. Although there are many colours in the gerberas they focus predominantly on 5 main shades here which are popular in Vietnam, including the reds, yellows, oranges and pinks. The gerberas flower for the whole year however they are continually pruning to maximize blooms. The roses are more expensive to purchase than the gerberas. Some of the ro anti “Australian ady Killers” ur hase roses for their wives from the farmer.

At the completion of our visit we thank the farmer with an Australian gift and return to our bus at 8.45 am. Our next visit is to a farm producing weasel coffee. This enterprise has 24 weasels to produce the Vietnamese speciality. The farmer selects the best coffee beans to feed to the weasel which then also makes a further selection possibly only consuming 2 out of every 10 beans offered. Thai delicately explains that after 24 hours inside the stomach of the weasel the beans are expelled, washed, dried in the hot sun before the cover of the bean is removed, roasted then ground. The animals cannot be fed the beans more than 4 times a week or they will die. The high temperature inside the stomach of the weasel contributes to improving the taste of the coffee. The finished product is five times more expensive than ordinary coffee. Some of the group take the time to sit and purchase a cup of the weasel coffee. We then move to the rear of the house to see the production of rice saki. The most popular is rice wine, but they also produce wine made from sticky rice, sweet potato, corn, or cassava. Thai is familiar with the process because his family used to make it and he used to drink it! Firstly the rice (or other base) is steamed. Most rice wine is made in small home distilleries using either normal or sticky rice, although the wine is also made from sweet potato, corn or whatever is available. The white rice is first cooked and mashed, then water and yeast is added before the mixture is left to ferment. At the completion of the technical visit we move on to the hamlet of Nam Ban to see the Thac Voi Elephant waterfall around 25 kilometres south west of Dalat, arriving at 11.10 am at the Linh An pagoda.

After another lovely lunch we visit the Cuong Hoan silk factory. Figure 19 Thai addressing group on silkworms Following hatching, the silkworms are placed on a bamboo rack and fed for about 20 days during which time the silkworms spin their silken cocoons. The silk is a continuous fibre secreted from two salivary glands in the head of each larva. There is a gum called sericin which joins the two filaments together. The sericin is removed by placing the cocoons in boiling water, which frees the silk filaments and t he silk is extracted from the silkworm. The length of the silk in each worm varies from 400 metres to 1, 000 metres. The silk at this stage is known as raw silk.

Figure 20 Extracting silk thread Our next stop is to a rather unique visit, a cricket farm. We are certainly in the right place, with the strangely recognizable noise coming from the thousands of crickets on the farm. Mr Huy is the farmer and Thai is once again a very efficient interpreter. The males and females are kept in breeding trays and once the eggs are laid it takes around 10 days for them to hatch. The cricket then takes a further two and a half months to reach maturity. The crickets arefed feed meal (the same as fed to the chickens) and water of course, and housed in humid conditions.

The crickets are a popular culinary delicacy and sell for $10 USD per kilogram ($11.16 AUD). In each kilogram there are roughly 800 to 900 crickets. The most popular way to prepare the crickets is to deep fry them until they turn golden brown. Although they may not appear very appetizing, the crickets actually have a good nutritional value, being high in protein, iron and calcium, and low in fat. At the risk of eating too close to lunch and spoiling their appetite, many of the group try the crickets and find them surprisingly tasty. We return to Dalat for lunch - one of the best lunch on Vietnam tours, and immediately after lunch we visit the Dalat Train Station which was built in 1932 and retains its original Art Deco des ign. Although not operational since the Vietnam War, a shortened picturesque 17 kilometre line to the village of Trai Mat still runs. We then return to our hotel for some free time. Once again the weather is deteriorating quickly and the clouds look like rain is imminent. Some brave soldiers however take a taxi to the city centre, a journey of 3 kilometres at a cost of 50,000 dong ($2.55 AUD) which we think is a pretty good deal considering the vehicle seats 7 people! We set out on a shopping frenzy: the women seek out silk and the men concentrate on the optometrists. Luckily we meet up to enjoy a delicious cappuccino for the bargain price of 29,000 dong ($1.48 AUD). The group enjoys another lovely meal this evening.

FRIDAY 21ST JUNE – Day 18 We departfrom our charming hotel at 8.00 am to an avenue of staff waving us off. What a farewell; how special do we feel? We depart under overcast skies and the overnight rain has brought with it a pleasantly refreshing breeze. Dalat is a beautifully landscaped city with an abundance of flowers, flower pots, manicured lawns and hedges. Our first stop is to the Catholic Church which was built from 1931 to 1942 to meet the needs of the many local Catholic followers. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Nicholas and was designed and built by the French. The building measures 65 metres long, 47 metres high and 14 metres wide. It features 70 stained glass windows brought from France and has a chicken on top of the tower, hence its nickname the Chicken Church. This is only a brief stop as we have a long journey today of around 320 kilometres which will take at least 9 hours depending on traffic conditions. We are very quickly out of the city and driving through heavy pine forests with a thick undergrowth of ferns and natural vegetation. The countryside changes and we traverse a valley of rice fields and vegetable plots. A true patchwork of various plantings. Around 18 kilometres south of Dalat we arrive at the Chicken village known locally as Lang Ga. The village takes its name from the large and rather bizarre statue of a o kerel. he villa e is ho e to the K’ho eo le who row fruit, coffee and produce textiles. It looks the most unlikely place to stop but apparently the village hosts many visitors to see the K’ho wo en weave their textiles and to ur hase the finished cloths, bags, bed covers, scarves etc. Figure 21 Textile outlet Chicken Village