A week ago, I took a short trip with my friends to Tam Dao, a hill station about 90 km from Hanoi. Like so many Hanoians, they have recently bought a car and, according to Vietnamese custom, whenever you buy something new, you have to celebrate with friends. It also meant we could escape from the horrible heat of last week. During the week is the best time to go to Tam Dao as it's very quiet compared to weekends. It seemed there was only us and about 10 other tourists also from Hanoi.
I have been to Tam Dao several times during the past 8 years and it never seems to change much but there do appear to be more guest houses. The last few times I've usually stayed in a small guest house on the top street of Tam Dao, but I changed my mind this time to stay near the market which is close to the main street where the restaurants and shops are located. After checking out a few different guest houses, we picked Mai Hoa guest house which only coat a cost of only 100,000Vnd per night. The hotel was very clean, the proprietor and staff were friendly and they served great food. The only thing that they didn't have was airconditioning but in Tam Dao it's hardly necessary as it's always cool and a bit chilly in the evenings. In fact, I needed to use the colorful blanket provided to keep me warm.
We had lunch at the hotel the first day, which of course included the local specialty vegetable, Susu. I ate so much of this vegetable during my trip there along with wild boar and wild chicken. For our second meal, we went out for dinner to a restaurant near the hotel but like so many restaurants in these kinds of semi-remote tourist destinations, it was very expensive. I hate it when they just make up the price. As a consequence, we decided to eat at the hotel for the rest of the trip and the good thing was they served us at our balcony on the second floor with a very nice view of Tam Dao.
On the last day, we went to visit a temple called Tay Thien Quoc Mau, which is reached by climbing up about over 100 steps to the top of the hill. The Tam Dao people are investing to make it bigger and now it's almost finished, and includes many statues. I wondered how they could transport all the huge Buddha statues up the hill as it was very steep and hard to climb. Anyway, we spent about 30 minutes there praying, taking photos before going the same distance down the hill to see the Thac Bac waterfall, which my friends hadn't seen before. I felt exhausted on the way back up even though I exercise very regularly. We stopped quite a few times in between to relax and take some photos of the surrounding countryside. Sweating when we reached the township, we decided to take a dip in one of the other hotel's swimming pools. Buy, that felt good.
Finally, after two nights, it was time to get back to reality, back to Hanoi to face the heat and work. I really didn't want to leave as Tam Dao's so peaceful. I need to go back here in the near future. Thanks to all of my friends for the fun times.