My final stop in the Balkans was Slovenia, the economic powerhouse of the former Yugoslavia and a charming country resembling Austria and Switzerland. In fact, I couldn’t really see how it fit with countries like Bosnia & Herzegovina or Macedonia – it was like chalk and cheese.
In my mind Da Lat is an anomaly. Situated 1,500m above sea level, and frequently facing prolonged periods of rain and overcast skies, the city is a good 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the country. This temperate climate, and the fact that the French colonialists treated it as a country retreat to get out of the stifling heat of Saigon, makes the place feel oddly European.
“Ok, now just remember to keep your feet pointed towards the ceiling, otherwise you could break your leg. Climb up to that one if you are feeling brave.” That is what is our guide shouted to me, standing waist-deep in a gigantic pool of mud half a mile inside one of the vast array of Karst mountains in Northern Vietnam.
“Are you sure it is safe to get out of the vehicle here? Should we not drive a bit further?”, the German woman asked as we got out of the safari vehicle at 6am, about 10km from Olifants camp in the Kruger Park.