We’ve been longing to get out to nearby Tuyen Lam Lake to see some nature, but Stoytcho has staunchly vetoed the idea of renting a motorbike. “What, come on!” I say, “It’ll be fine.” But Vietnam does have some absurdly high motor vehicle death rates, so I’m not terribly convincing. We also promised our travel nurse we wouldn’t do this. As we were getting shots for yellow fever and Japanese Encephalitis and goodness-knows-what-else, we told her about our travel plans in Southeast Asia. “Just promise me you won’t rent a motorbike there. That is more likely to kill you than any of these diseases combined.”
But thanks to a cable car, there is one bit of Tuyen Lam Lake we can reach without a vehicle. So on our last day in Da Lat, we caught a cab up to the cable car entrance, bought tickets, and soared over pine tree forests and farms for fifteen minutes. We arrived at Thien Vien Truc Lam Temple, walked through its grounds, and had a lovely stroll by the lake. In one cluster of buildings by the shore, we found a restaurant and had lunch and I survived a near-concussive experience as a lumber beam perched over their bathroom door came crashing down an inch from me. The cook’s wife came running in horror, assuming she’d killed a foreigner, but I managed to communicate that I was ok. And to celebreate the near brush with death (even in absence of renting a motorbike), we took a swan boat out onto the lake. That’s as good a celebration of life as any, right?