The Crazy House Da Lat

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The Crazy House Da Lat 29.12.2010

By Katrina Griffiths

We decided to spend a couple of days in the central highland region of Da Lat en route to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) from Nha Trang, a pretty easy 4 hour journey by private mini bus. We have taken a few mini buses on our travels. They are very easy to arrange through private tour companies, or through the hotel you’re staying in. So far, we’ve paid, on average, $120 for a 12-seater mini bus and driver to take us to our destination, which can be as far as 8-hours away. Public transport is much cheaper, but it’s more convenient for us to do it this way with Abie. We don’t have to worry about when the next toilet break will be, or worry about other passengers. Ballistic Baby is all action, and 4 hours of trying to keep her amused tests anyone’s patience—I don’t fancy testing the patience of a bus-load of tourists. Have I mentioned that at 13-months of age she has learnt how to sprint is faster than her 8 year old sister? I’ve never seen anything like it.

I’ve gone off on a tangent and I suppose I’m showing off. Back to Da Lat.

There is not a lot to do in Da Lat for children so two days was enough. However, it is a very charming town with cool spring-like weather and beautiful French colonial influences in the architecture and food. Many of the residents of Saigon come to Da Lat for a break, to hike, bike and indulge in romance, which is taken very seriously. In fact a whole park has been devoted to romance, and is called “The Valley of Love”. You can take romantic horse and cart rides in the parks and around the town, which Abie absolutely loved. You can also take pony rides in the Da Lat flower garden. The ponies are tended by the Da Lat Cowboys, who are an attraction in themselves. These young guys dress up as cowboys and take it all very seriously.

Another attraction is called “The Crazy House” and I couldn’t wait to take the children there for a look. My goodness, we were in for a surprise. This place is truly craaaaaaaaazy! What a fun imagination the creator of this bizarre (and I dare say ridiculous) structure has. We walked in through the gates and entered what could only be described as a building of pure fantasy. Towers shaped as tree trunks and giraffes. A maze of spiralling walkways through glittery tunnels leading to rooms complete with stalactites and animals ranging from bears to termites with glowing red eyes. This was the perfect place to take my crazy twins who turned the Crazy House into their own world, and were lost within their imagination for hours.

The Crazy House is owned and designed by respected architect, Mrs Dang Viet Nga, or Hang Nga as she is better known. She had the philosophy of incorporating nature into her design, for people to become more entwined with nature, thus the organic tone of the house. Incidentally, her father Truong Chinh, was the successor of President Ho Chi Minh and a room of the house is devoted to him. A few rooms/caves have been turned into gift shops that sell very tasteful hand woven and hand knitted souvenirs, and you can even stay here for the night if you are really adventurous.

I found it quite wonderful. Totally weird, but I just love that Hang Nga followed her dream and created her surreal design even though a lot of people must have thought she was completely insane. The twins LOVED it, but our eldest was actually scared, especially of the giant spider. Our baby needed to sleep as soon as we arrived so my husband decided to take her back to the hotel. I offered to take her myself so that he could explore and his reply was “No. I’ve seen quite enough thank you” and he left… grateful.

– The Hang Nga Crazy House. 3 D Huynh Thuc Khang

Ph 382 2070