Shortcuts And Street Art
The central highland city of Da Lat in Vietnam has some confusing and steep streets. I really should use the terrain setting on google maps to help me navigate. After missing a non-existent road and heading down a valley, I stumbled upon a set of stairs and narrow laneway leading back up the hill to where I wanted to go.
Turns out this is Doc Nha Lang or more recently called Nguyen Bien Street. This is a 200 meter long sloping skinny path that is a favourite shortcut for locals. In 2019, a community group secured funding to sponsor 30 wall murals being painted on the buildings, in this laneway precinct. The artists were selected from over 250 local and international applications. The work chosen was considered to represent the history and culture of Da Lat.
This slanting alley was selected as the location because slopes, alleys and stairs are usually over looked in the tourism industry in Da Lat but, are a quintessential part of the lifestyle, and experience of this city.
I loved Da Lat. Being high up in the mountains, the temperature is divine. Cold even. I didn't notice at first but Da Lat homes and shops are not air conditioned. You don't need it. There is four distinct seasons and it is a city that loves flowers. My kind of place. For 3 months every year, the city hosts a flower festival. More on that later.
Also did I mention the stairs in Da Lat. Honestly, I have never walked up so many stairs in my life. You could do a years worth of stairs in a week here. Buildings are tall and narrow; think 3 metres wide and 4 to 6 storeys high. You might order your coffee on the ground floor and walk up a few levels to find a seat. The waterfalls and activities in the surrounding countryside are in deep valleys, accessed by endless stairs. Even the popular central tourist attractions in town are the Crazy House and Maze Bar, where stairs are the entertainment.
The roads of Da Lat wind around steep hills and gullies. As a pedestrian in the CBD there is staircases and narrow paths connecting the main roads, making walking around almost quicker than in a car.
Cutting up through Doc Nha Lang, I loved the way the murals engulfed the exterior of entire apartments. Three years after painting, the vines and moss add a wonderful touch.
You might have to dodge a few fast scooters to take photos though! It is still a popular shortcut after all.