I walked alone and listened to music, and tried to find the Crazy House – a place I saw marked on the map they gave us at the hotel but didn’t really know what it was.
I found the place after looking for it for a long time in a maze of small streets and alleys.
At the entrance, some Russian tourists stood, and local women sold merchandise and strawberries. I bought a ticket for 40,000 Dong (about a dollar and a half) and entered.
It was lovely inside, special and different, like being in a Doctor Seuss’s book.
It’s some kind of a museum that functions as a hotel as well, made of a few buildings with lots of steep staircases leading into and out of strange rooms.
Small, cozy bedrooms were looking as if they’ve been carved out of rocks or tree trunks. Hidden at the bottom floor of a building, there are a lobby and a living room with wooden furniture and maps on the walls, a funny gift shop is concealed somewhere, and amongst the buildings, there are yards with sculptures and hidden places, ladders, low porches.
If you go high enough, some of the staircases are becoming bridges that go over the whole Crazy House and whole Đà Lạt, and you can see the rooftops of the small colorful houses.
I went downstairs, where there was a small kiosk, and bought passionfruit juice. I sat with my book by a lake, while toads cackled with their gruff voices and groups of tadpoles swam in the water.
When I finished the chapter I walked around some more – I looked at a big cage where different species of fat doves napped on the branches of a tree.
As the skies got cloudy again I walked back to the hotel, where Roni was already waiting.
Rain began falling outside and after we showered we sat on the bed and watched “The Social Network” that I somehow managed to download to my phone, and by evening, as the rain stopped, we went for dinner.
We sat at one of the places where you get a small grill to the table and order skewers to roast on it, ate fresh meats and drank beer. Heavy rain was falling again, and when it weakened we quickly went back to the hotel.
It was cold and we cuddled in the bed, and continued watching the movie until we fell asleep.
In the morning we ate soup with mushrooms for breakfast. At the table near us, a woman with a Chinese look and an American accent tried Vietnamese coffee for the first time and admired its chocolate flavor.
We went to the market again to find me some shoes. At the hotel’s entrance, there was a place to put your shoes at, and in one of the days, my sandals just disappeared from there.
On the second floor of the market, there was an area with only different kinds of shoe shops, from practical ones for work to fancy ones, and I found flat colorful canvas shoes which I liked immediately.
I still have them in my closet and they’re starting to fall apart, but I can’t throw them yet because they remind me of Đà Lạt.
In the afternoon we went again to the Crazy House because I wanted Roni to see it too.
I was glad to go back because everything was so cute and strange, and Roni liked it as well. Meanwhile, the evening came slowly.
It was our last day in Đà Lạt and I was a bit sad to leave – the sweet homey hotel, Hien the receptionist, the chill city.
We had dinner at a place similar to the night before, with a small grill served to the table, and for the first time I tried a roasted chicken leg. It was nice but poor with meat and had lots of bones. A local mother sat next to us with two little girls who were scared of the grill’s red sparks.
We moved from there to the night market, which was closed to cars and very busy with people and vendors.
At the central square stood two people with huge costumes of a Minion and Hello-Kitty, and some teenagers pushed them to make them fall down. We walked around a little, Roni got himself a pair of shoes, and then we had ice-cream at a small cafe.
We went back, organized our backpacks and went to sleep.
We got up at seven AM, got dressed quickly and went downstairs for check-out.
We sat with Hien for a breakfast of rice leaves rolled with meat, and coffee.
Her sweet sister joined us too but her English wasn’t so good, so she mostly smiled in silence.
A rough rolling sound broke the silence – Nip and Quan, the motorcyclists, parked their heavy motorcycles outside. As we loaded our things on the bikes Hien gave us scarves as a gift, to cover our mouths and noses during the ride.
Roni went on the bike behind Nip, a middle-aged man with a thin mustache, and I sat behind Quan, a quiet man with moon-face that seemed age-less, even though he must be over 60.
The motor ignited and rumbled beneath us as we made our way through the heavy morning traffic. After we passed by the central square we caught up with Nip and Roni, who disappeared in the distance for a while.
The bike accelerated and the wind began blowing through the hair as we left the city, towards another journey.