We arrived in Da Lat at 10 am, after 16 hours on the bus. Kaitlyn, Jacky Melissa and I walked to hostel together (we were all at the same hostel in Hoi An and all booked the same hostel in Da Lat by chance).
On our walk over, I ran into a German guy, Bjorn, who I had met on Cat Ba Island a few days prior. I guess he was also on my bus, but I hadn’t noticed him until we got off and started walking. He was staying at a different hostel, so we parted ways at the top of the hill.
We got to Cozy Nook, but our rooms weren’t ready yet. Luckily, they had two bathrooms on their first floor that we could use to shower. They even gave us free towels!
You know when you feel gross and tired, and then you take a shower and you feel like a new person afterward? Yeah, that happened.
We walked into town to get some food and coffee. The staff had told us about a good bakery, but when we got there (after getting lost a couple times), I realized there was absolutely nothing for me to eat. It was all pastries and baked goods– the only vegan thing was a huge baguette, which I didn’t really want to eat right then and there.
Kaitlyn and I walked to a coffee shop next door called Windmills. I got an iced coffee with grass jelly. I can’t deny my Asian roots and say no to grass jelly when I see it. There was also a banh mi place attached to the coffee shop (kind of like KFC and Taco Bell), so I got a mushroom banh mi. I asked for no egg, no butter and no mayo to ensure that it would be vegan.
It was actually a surprisingly delicious find. Funny how you can get good vegan food at the most random, unexpected places.
Kaitlyn and I walked back to Cozy Nook to check in and to see if there were any afternoon activities we could do nearby.
I could already tell this hostel was amazing within a few minutes of being there. The staff was so incredibly kind and helpful, the beds had MEMORY FOAM mattresses, and the rooms were really clean. We decided to sign up for family dinner, which they do every night for $3. They were doing free cocktails after the dinner tonight as a special as well.
We asked if there was any trekking/hiking we could do, and staff said we should just walk around the city for the afternoon. Hiking would be best in the morning, when it’s not too hot.
We walked to try to find a coffee plantation, but it was nowhere to be found (and Google Maps was no help). We walked around the lake in the center of town instead.
Around 3 pm we were both hungry (banh mis are never very filling). I got a sweet potato from a street vendor and a watermelon smoothie from a random shop. The smoothie took forever to make because the lady had to pick the seeds out of every single piece of watermelon. It took her about 10 minutes to get all the seeds out, which made me feel bad for even ordering it. But it turned out to be one of the freshest smoothies I’ve ever had, so it was worth it.
We went back to the hostel to chill before dinner. When I walked into the room, there was a boy who I recognized. He and Kaitlyn were chatting, so I took the time to try to place him. I realized we had met in Boracay on Christmas Eve– we had sat across from each other at the hostel’s Christmas Eve dinner.
I asked if his name was Robin. He smiled and said, “I knew I recognized you from somewhere.” I reminded him that we had met in Boracay, and then the memory came back to him.
I realized I have a creepily good memory: Not only did I remember his name (we had only talked for a few minutes in the Philippines), I even remembered that he had brought German treats for everyone to share at the dinner.
We went down for family dinner at 6. They sat the vegetarians together at one table. It always makes me laugh when places do this because it makes you feel like SUCH an “other” when all the normal people sit wherever they want and then the vegetarians are sequestered in a corner. But I understand why they do it.
There were SO many people at the dinner. I think the whole hostel signed up for it. I asked a girl who had been staying there a couple nights if this was normal, and she said that it’s usually even more crowded. That was hard to believe since I don’t know how they could have possibly fit any more people in the room.
The vegetarians got mushroom soup, steamed broccoli, mushroom stir fry, spring rolls, and rice. I loved the spring rolls and mushrooms most.
The girl next to me told me multiple times before dinner how she wasn’t even hungry, but then once the food came she kept eating, and eating, and eating… more than most of the people at the table. It really bothered me. Like, she’d complain about being so full, even unbuttoning her pants at one point, but then kept SHOVELING FOOD IN HER MOUTH.
At the end of the meal she even filled up her bowl with rice and veggies to save for later. If you are full, then DON’T EAT!! And if you’re going to eat, then don’t complain about being full!! I didn’t understand why she was complaining so much if she clearly could keep eating.
We were given sangria after as our free cocktail. It wasn’t really sangria… more like watery grape juice, but beggars can’t be choosers.
One of my dormmates, Jo, was turning 26 that day, and the staff bought her a freaking cake!! She had just arrived, so it’s pretty amazing that they were able to pull it off on such short notice. I don’t even know how they knew it was her birthday.
The whole hostel sang happy birthday to her. It was one of the cutest things I’ve ever experienced at a hostel!
After a couple more beers, a bunch of us left to go to Maze Bar. It was INCREDIBLE: it’s a multi-level bar that you can actually get lost in. It’s like a labyrinth, with never-ending paths and nooks and crannies to crawl through and explore. It reminded me of this bar in Prague we used to go to called U Sudu, but better. This place is a MUST if you ever find yourself in Da Lat.
We spent a good 30 minutes exploring all the different pathways and holes. We wanted to get to the rooftop, but we soon sadly discovered that it closes at 9 every night. Once we were explored-out and just sitting and talking, this guy Alex came up to us out of no where to let us know that the door to the roof had been opened back up. It was like some sort of mystical/spiritual thing where the rooftop opens whenever it wants to.
We chilled up there for a bit, gazing at the stars and the view, and met a couple germans. One of them guessed I was 30 years old because he thought “I was one of those asians who looks young but isn’t.” UUMMMMM😑😑. It was pretty funny since most people don’t think I’m even 20, let alone 30.
I crawled into bed around midnight.