Flavours of Saigon – Day 3 : Cho Da Lat (Dalat Market), Bun Rieu & Banh MiSeptember 8, 2012 | 2,262 views
“Previously … on Motormouth From Ipoh ….”
A gloomy morning @ Dalat; waking up to almost complete stillness … saved for the gentle roar of a few bikes. You can see the town from afar; separated by a canal lined with a beautifully landscaped garden and trees.
And it’s finally Saturday! Talk about survival skills. Been a few weeks since I last had a full 5 days week, hence the past week was every bit of a chore than how the boring weekdays have already been notoriously branded as. Yeah, and that day trip to Batu Pahat in between kicked things up a notch; partially thanks to the local rendition of Wantan Mee tossed in a spicy and sour sauce; almost ketchup-like condiment.
Enough about that, let’s embrace the weekend with open arms! Saigon stories continue with an alluring morning recap of the Dalat market experience. More captions than actual writings (it’s the weekend after all!), and we’re good to go ….
Buffet breakfast; consisting of more or less generic buffet spread combining local items as well as the regular sausages, bacons etc. Oh, and do grab a cup of the artichoke tea; a Dalat-only special.
The main roundabout of Dalat town; with a second one nearer to the market shown in a picture later.
Front view of our hotel; Best Western Dalat Plaza Hotel, priced at about RM170/USD55 per room per night for two pax.
Bicycles, motorcycles and trudging along on foot are the major means of transportation here. Yup, there are cars and buses, yet compared to Saigon …. the vehicles here are relatively lesser.
If you think that you can brace the cold breeze especially during rainy season with shorts and singlets in Dalat, by all means, go ahead. The average temperature throughout the day is about 20 degrees Celcius, yet on rainy days when the wind is blowing mercilessly in your face, you’d wish that you’d brought your sweater along.
Still, we found that walking around town was a pleasure, although the town has barely more than a couple of major streets to saunter along.
Cho Da Lat (Dalat Market) – Even if you’re not a morning person, you should still drop by for a first hand experience of a local’s life in Dalat. Dalat Market is in the middle of town, so you will not miss this unless you are staying further away from town.
Fresh strawberries, avocados and artichokes. Dalat’s incredibly fresh from the farm produce can be bought from the traders plying the streets leading to the market every morning.
Not forgetting blueberries (or were those blackberries?), fresh breads and even slabs of SIEW YOKE! (roasted pork) are being sold at the market too.
Although not shown in this picture of the butchery section, there were a few locals selling dog’s meat at the market. Yes, gory sight of blocks of meat with fur intact.
And let’s hope that these cuties are not going to be cooked. Maybe they see the value in rearing the ducklings as pets?
Likewise everywhere in Saigon, fresh baguettes are easily available from the streets; and this makes a cheap and simple breakfast with a glass of Vietnamese coffee.
The second major roundabout in town; view from the top of the staircase where we had our BBQ “dinner” the night before.
Aside from fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables from the market, you can also find dried food products sold at the market; wholesale-type of stalls jostling for your patronage.
Read : Definitely cheaper than Ben Thanh Market‘s commercialized pace, yet different variety of items. More on what we bought in the next post.
The walk around Dalat town took us barely an hour; at reasonably leisure pace. The general notion was that; the pace of life was slower and the local folks here are not as exposed to tourism like their counterparts in Saigon city. We barely saw more than a couple of foreigners plying the streets. Even locals from neighbouring towns come to Dalat for a quick getaway, like how we Malaysians love our Genting and Cameron Highlands.
Obviously, I was not satisfied with mere fried rice, bacon and sausages from the hotel’s buffet line. Hence, we popped by these stalls by the main street leading to the Dalat Market for a second and more meaningful breakfast.
Banh Mi is a very common streetside delicacy; a Vietnam’s interpretation of our Ramlee burger or the American’s hot dog stalls. A baguette stuffed with minced pork mixed with red chillies, chili oil, shallots and scallions, this old lady’s rendition had a more fiery kick than the ones we had in Hanoi or even Saigon.
Bun Rieu; a rice vermicelli soup in a tomato-based broth laden with flavours of crab; pounded to a fine paste and then strained to gather the sweet essence from the crustacean. There are several more delicious alternatives in Saigon, but this would do just fine to appease the hunger on a chilly morning in Dalat.
Appetite satiated. Walked for miles around town. Got told off for taking photographs of locals without permission. Seriously. And it was barely 10am in the morning. What’s next?
A day tour, around Dalat visiting flower gardens, temples, strawberry farm, and a Dalat steamboat experience to cap the night off before we travelled back to Saigon on the midnight bus.
*More to come in the next installment of Flavours of Saigon. For now, have a Happy Weekend, dear readers. You deserve this. 🙂