Dalat train station

Dalat train station was built in 1932 and was disused after the Vietnam war when the railway line was heavily bombarded by the Viet Cong. I imagined many French holiday makers making good use of the train station when it was operating.

Dalat train station

Now it serves as a short 7km journey for tourists to Trai Mat and also as a stage for tacky wedding photo shoots of the groom carrying a fake suitcase and the bride holding a basket full of fake flowers. The station was deserted when dad and I arrived one and half hour before departure. Dad fell asleep on the comfortable original leather lounge sofas, while I gazed at the art deco architecture of the station.

The train ride itself was better than I thought as it passed many vegetable and flower farms. The pagoda at Trai Mat was worth a visit too. We climbed the many steps to the top of the pagoda, where a nice view of the central highlands could be seen. The entire facade of the pagoda was covered with broken pieces of ceramic plates and cups to form a colorful dragon mosaic that rose to the top of the pagoda. After returning Dalat train station, we hopped on a taxi to Bao Dai’s summer palace.

Dalat train station

At first glance, the summer palace belonging to the last king of Vietnam was an absolute disappointment. The art decor designed palace looked more like an over sized house with long hallways without a single painting or a family portrait. It had a similar ambience to an ambassador’s residence rather than that of a king.

However, when you start to paint a picture in your head, thoughts of the princesses undressing themselves and having a wash in the bathroom started to make the visit more interesting. In the king’s bedroom, a circular verandah looks out to a nicely manicured garden below. The king would have spent many worrying nights, gazing out from the verandah, unprepared for the devastation that was to unfold ahead. As I sat down with a cold beer in the palace gardens with my Dad, I could see the many garden parties the king would have held for visiting foreign dignitaries. The walk back into the town centre was pleasant, cutting thorough small alleys and past people’s homes.

Sam.lee (From Korea)

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