May 27, 2020
The time is 5:40 in the morning. We crawl out of the bed, pack our backpacks, and leave them at the front desk to pick them up again for our 1:30 pm bus ride to the next town called Nha Trang. But first, we take our rented scooter and go to the Elephant Waterfalls, about 30 km (18 miles) from Da Lat.
After leaving the hotel, we go out to eat something. We eat delicious Pho soup and buy some water. The route to the waterfalls once again leads through lush areas, a mysterious road with a view of the beautiful valley. We pass the coffee plantations and banana trees growing right next to the road. Although it is chilly with drizzling rain, the ride is quite pleasant. After a few kilometers, the road leads down the valley, where the temperature rises noticeably. We arrive at the village of Nam Ban. I ask a man standing by the roadside, for directions to the waterfall. Unfortunately he does not speak nor understand English (neither do we speak Vietnamese), so we all switch to a universal sign language. It turns out that we have four kilometers to go. We pass through the village center where a marketplace is teeming with life. Just before the sign announcing the end of the village, we turn to the right, and on the left-hand side is the entrance to the waterfall.
The waterfall’s breeze is clearly seen from a distance. We come closer to the barriers placed two meters from the cliff. The view from the top-level makes a stunning impression. We go to the right, towards the bottom of the waterfall. There are little bridges, barriers, and stairs. Everything is wet and slippery, so we have to be careful with every step. Once at the bottom, our minds go crazy! Suddenly, we are in Jurassic Park! Going down the rocks, we are surrounded by trees with hanging vines, rocks covered with beautiful green moss, or roots emerging from the ground. There are no words that can describe it, none of the pictures will be able to convey what we are looking at - you need to see with your own eyes. We stop where there is no more support to walk any further, there are only bare and slippery rocks with the waterfall behind them…. Desire to see it up close is overpowering, pushing us forward, but common sense wins (unfortunately), and after a few photos, we decide to go back. In the meantime, one of the camera memory cards dies. We are losing a lot of pictures permanently. Bad luck hangs over our photographs, as this is not the first time that it happens.
On the way to our scooter, we notice an interesting building, with a roof in an Asian style. We investigate the noises coming from inside. It turns out to be the Linh An Pagoda, a Buddhist temple. We come closer, the air brings the smell of incense. There are altars around the temple. The building is beautifully decorated, with frequent motifs of dragons. We approach it even closer, we can see people sitting on the floor, officiating prayers. Inside the temple stand four huge statues. Each of them has the swastika symbol displayed. Today, the swastika is associated with evil and violence. In many religions, such as Buddhism or Hinduism, the swastika is a symbol of happiness and prosperity. We sit on the stairs just before the entrance to the temple. A boy comes up to us with a letter in his hand, on which you can see the Buddhist Wheel of Dharma. Now we have no doubt what kind of temple this is. He invites us inside, on a common prayer. Unfortunately we must refuse, as we are already running late. This was another very interesting experience.
On the way back from the waterfall, we stop on a coffee plantation and another beautiful temple. Unfortunately, it was under renovation, but even that did not take away from its charm. This is when a little accident happens. Our scooter, with us on it, lands in the ditch. Other traffic users stopped immediately and offered help. First, we were asked if we were ok, and then they helped pull out the machine from the ditch. These were very friendly people who did not even wait for the words of thanks. After a quick check we learn that there is no damage to the scooter or us.
We're back to grab our luggage from the hotel. It turns out that once again someone will take us to the bus station. We come to the conclusion that it must be a service included in the ticket. Although the trip is only a few hours long, the bus again has seats with sleeping capacity. The rain is pouring all the way through. And although clouds obscure the view, we can see the vast cliffs we drive by. Yet another time we look at Vietnam’s nature with absolute amazement.
We reach the Nha Trang at about 6:00 pm. It is already dark and still raining rather heavily. Roads are flooded at the ankle level. Nha Trang is famous for its beaches, so if the weather does not improve, we will move on the next day.
“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aesop