My friends, Misa
and I went to Tam Dao
last weekend to get some relief from the noise, dirt and the motorbike horns in Hanoi and of course, to release the work stress.
Even though the name means "three islands",this place is not surrounded by ocean. This is just a Vietnamese name that we translated to English. This is a lovely mountain town set in lots of small hills, a 20km climb up a windy road. It took us 2.5 hours to get there from Hanoi. Because the roads are being widened, they are very dirty which meant we got covered in dust all over our clothes and bodies. I didn't wear a helmet because it was too hot and my face was covered in dirt by the time we reached Tam Dao.
Tthe first time we came here was 4 years ago, everything was so fresh and full of green. Nothing has changed much with their main business still growing Susu vegetable(spinach). Nowadays, there are a few taller hotels, which are quite expensive. We stayed at the Thanh Binh guest house
, the same place as our first trip and it cost the same price 100,000Vnd(Us $7). The rooms are very clean, with hot water and we had a mountain view and the owner brought us hot water for making tea
There are so many cute old houses and broken down buildings besides lots of amazingly crazily houses designed without thinking of the landscape around, but this mixture makes Tam Dao special. If you look down Tam Dao from the top of the mountain or from your hotel, it's easy to see that this is a green town which grows not only Susu vegetable, but also pumpkin, bamboo and other wild plants. Su su is a great green spinach. Only the top of the plant is eaten as it is young and tender and can be stir fried with garlic or steamed to eat with soya sauce. It's really healthy, and similar looking to the pumpkin leaves and stems. We paid only 10,000Vnd for 1 kg. Beside all of the green veggies, the second popular product inTam Dao is wild bees, wild birds and products from wild animals. Some special wine and honey can be bought, too.
We had such a great time eating wild meat, drinking beer and being wild. We went to several cafes and bars hunting for cold beer and most of the shops didn't serve cold beer. One of the shop owners told me that sunday is the last day of the busy time so that they don't put too much beer in the fridge because they know they won't sell all of it. I told her that here we are and we will drink all of them for her. Anyway, we finished her beer and she had to go to another shop to get more cold beer for us. She had a great day with her drink business and she looked happy. In one coffee shop that we came across, the toilet was really clean and the water is from the stream so we don't need to turn it off but we could only use it for a pee. Hilarious, don't you think?
One annoying business in Tam Dao is Karaoke, which is everywhere. People sometimes start singing very early in the morning till late at night. We went to a beautiful old rock building which might have been a church in the past, thinking that it would be a nice bar for a drink. We sat down and realized that there were many boys and girls already waiting for their singing turn. They sang all instant crap music and they also mixed the words up and the rhythm, so we had to move on.
Misa had a good time running around playing with the other dogs, even though one grumpy old dog in front of the hotel tried to attack him every time we went past.
The best time to go to Tam Dao is during the week when there are not many tourists and you will have a peaceful time.
Labels: The North, Travel