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Monday, June 6, 2011

A Night in Aker Woods

Oh, what's this place?
Mmm..am hungry!
Yum, yum. It's actually not bad!
Er..what's that sound?

Exotic animals in cages.

Intoxicated medicinal herbs.

This is what it's all about - the restaurant's Specials.

Ant eaters, porcupines, weasels...do snakes shit?

The one thing i dislike about Vietnam is the language barrier, so this menu is considerably impressive. You know what you're ordering, no dubious meats (except anything with bowels) and they even give a description of how it's cooked. Oh yes, tortoise cooked with banana please.
Rabbit solidified blood. Cute.


Raven goat blood mixed with wine sounds posh. Everything is somewhat cooked with Chinese medicinal herb, it makes them look healthy and justified.

No, i'm not eating it.
 The waitress hovers at your table all the time. Each time the liquid in your glass falls a little, she quickly pour more beer in. The ice in there NEVER melts because she keeps putting in more ice. She is like the lightbulb during your date, but she can't eavesdrop because she won't understand.
Eating by the roadside, facing the view of motorists and dust is the local culture here. The restaurant don't take too kindly to photography. I act ignorant and Japanese while snapping away. Perhaps it's illegal thus the hostility, i don't know. I heard they serve dog meat but i didn't see any dog on the menu or in cages but people have seen dogs from stores being transported away in gunny bags.

Will all these exotic meats taste just like chicken? I wouldn't know. I didn't have the guts to try. I didn't want to waste that small animal's life knowing i will only take one bite of it to satisfy my curiousity. Perhaps if in a larger group of 10 and more, that life that was slayed at the chopping board would have been more worthwhile.

Not before i tell them that whoever who eats a dog, dogs (alive ones of course) will bark at them for the rest of their life. And you never know when a dog may save your life, because they are man's best friend.

But here's the address for the adverturous souls. Found in Saigon.

The place to take cheap buses (SGD 7-14 one way) out of Saigon is from Pha Ngu Lao. It is a backpackers area and there are plenty of booking agents. Most of them can be trusted, Sinh Cafe is the most popular one.

For double the price, we got the Sleeping Bus.
You get a seat that is permanently reclined, it's comfortable. Boarding the midnight bus, we slept through the journey like a baby.
Cockroaches may join you in bed occasionally. Be glad they're just babies and not the flying types.

7 hours to Dalat, we've arrived at the house in Pooh corner.
Most call it the Crazy House because of its bizarre architecture, some call it the Haunted House because it looks creepy at night, i call it the Pooh bear house because it resembles a tree.

Hung Nha Hotel has 9 rooms. Each room is themed. It starts at USD 35 a night to USD 60 for the bigger rooms. USD 35 is tiny, like living in a hole (bathroom is pretty spacious though, more spacious than a Tokyo hotel). Unfortunately, the unique architecture is not practical thus the rooms are very dusty and not well-kept.

It's pretty fun exploring the place, like Alice in Wonderland. It is open to the public from 7am-7pm for SGD 3 per entry. Silly tourist me insist on staying in the hotel as compared to just visiting it in the day. We were the ONLY guests in that place.


I thought as a hotel guest, i get the exclusive priviledge to view the rooms, but the Vietnamese did not use this to milk the worth of the hotel! Tourists who visit in the day get to visit the decorated rooms as well. This is one of the larger rooms that has 2 floors. It is the most premium room and at the highest point of the tree.



This is the honey moon room, decorated like a hive.


They have little gift shops in one of the holes, kinda cute.

This resembles a ear.
This is the dining area of the hotel and it looks like a living room out from the 70s.
I'm surprised to find the menu priced higher than usual.




Just right outside the hotel are some street stalls. The kiasee Singaporean in me diminishes abit more with each visit i pay to Vietnam. Dalat is like the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. It has a cool temperature, so piping hot Pho at 7am warms the tummy.
Dalat is a small serene town with alot of greenery, bright floral colours and fresh cool air. 2 days will be enough, nothing more.
We chanced upon a small alley with this local snack that cannot be found in the city area of Saigon.
It's an eye opener to be invited to dine on the low make-shift stools and tables in the living room of the business owner. Customers step in with shoes & possibly cow dung underneath it, pee all over your house's toilet but good news, you don't have to pay shop rent!

One quail egg = 4 chicken eggs. That's how cholestrol ridden we are after one afternoon snack.
An egg in between fluffy light dough, it was crispy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside.
Dalat is famous for it's Crazy House, Lover's Valley and Magic Table. Lover's Valley must be named due to its picturesque view of mountains, lakes and clouds that spells romance. There are loitering photographers around to make a quick buck by helping you with your pictures.


You can rent these ducks for $5 an hour and cycle your way into the lake.

Language was a headache in Vietnam, I almost did not find the legendary magic table. I used sound effects and hand gestures to the locals but no one understood what i am looking for. If magic table was a a cue for charades, i will fail miserably.

As the saying goes, money can get you answers. We had dinner at a 5 star hotel. And at Ana Mandara, the waitress could speak good English and her service was immeculate. Spending a little more, we had a good dinner and found directions to the last sight on my list! I can go home happy and satisfied now.
So, this ordinary looking wooden table is supposedly ancient with a thousand years history and has magic. Strangers place their hands on the table and they are meant to concentrate and instruct the table with their mind to turn left or right. Without any effort, the table will start to spin in the direction you thought of with your mind.

The magic table (and some call it Ouija) is found in Dreaming Hill, a tourist spot 15 minutes drive from the heart of Dalat. It's a tourist attraction somewhat like our Haw Par Villa except our defunct attraction is 10 times better.

I could not understand Vietnamese, but we saw the girl who mans the table placing her hand and mumbling to the inanimate object when they are no curious tourists. She could be praying or casting a spell, oh how our imagination likes to fly.

Some tourists walk away spooked when the table spun, some tourists couldn't make it work. Either way, i didn't try because i didn't want "something" to follow me back home.

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