Before leaving Tennessee, Pete an I pondered the idea that we may not meet anyone on our travels. Neither one of us is very outgoing and we worried about four long months with no one else to talk too. Would we kill one another? Luckily we have never had to answer that question. Meeting other travelers has been easy. There were the two guys we met in Ko Chang Thailand, Greg and Paul; who kept us in stitches with their dry British humour. There was Maggie and Travis, the married couple from Canada, who we wish we could have spent more time with. We bonded over the unscrupulous dealings of the  Cambodia taxi mafia. They lead us to an awesome little beach town we didn't know existed. There was a couple from Portland that helped us bring in the New Year. And then there are Tara and Tyler, who have become a permanent and very welcome fixture in our SE Asia travels. When you are spending a lot of time with other people  there is always the problem of annoying one another. This is not the case with them.Never once have we had to plot an escape route or feign a headache while in their company.

They arrived in Dalat four days after us. We had planned on leaving the following day, but changed our minds. The conversation went like this.....

Tara and Tyler "Ahhh you guys are leaving tomorrow. You should stay for an extra day"

Natasha and Pete "OK!"

Then we all laugh at the fluidity of our plans and how easily they can convince us to change them.

We have already had this conversation several times, but it has been Tara and Tyler who have always stayed an extra day. Up until this point they have been traveling ahead of us.

Since we had done almost everything there is to do in Dalat we decided to go the market, which is always entertaining.

 The climate here allows year round growth of fruits, vegetables and flowers not found in other parts of Vietnam. The colors were more vibrant  than at any market we have seen.


Dried fruits


Photo by Goingslowly

We see a strange routine here, cats tied up to objects with string. A trend we would begin to notice all over northern Vietnam.  It's a sad sight. Tyler and I spent a few minutes untangling a kitten from a pole.

Although this guy looked very content.


Now we can add duck to our growing list of photographed heads.


This is one of cutest Vietnamese  vendors we have seen. She was very emphatic and excited about us taking her photo and showing off her betel stained grin.


Speaking of  betel......

The betel leaf combined with the areca nut has been chewed for thousands of years in many parts of the world including SE Asia. The teeth of many people we have encountered are stained a permanent dark red from decades of chewing this stimulant that is said to bring a feeling of well being. We had all been a little curious about it but didn't know where to find it, until Tara noticed a pink paste lying next to a large green leaf. Tentatively I approached the vendor and pointed, the normal procedure for ordering something when you don't speak the language. Before we new it we all had a mouthful of this bitter concoction.

The betel leaf.


The lime paste that is spread on the  leaf.


Photo by Goingslowly 

(One of the  awesome things about Tara and Tyler is if we don't get a very good photo of something they let us use theirs.)


photo by Goingslowly.

The arcea nut


photo by Goingslowly

The nut is wrapped in the lime covered leaf, chewed and placed in the side of the mouth.


After only a few minutes our teeth had a pinkish tint...


Photo by Goingslowly

After ten minutes of chewing we all began to feel a bit "weird" and spit it out.


Photo by Goingslowly



Tyler considered making this purchase, then wondered how he would explain it to customs.


Preparing lunch


Buying hats to prepare ourselves for the cold of northern Vietnam


Photo by Goingslowly


Photo by Goingslowly

Tyler didn't buy this one, but I think he should have :) 


Photo by Goingslowly

Sunglass shopping....


Photo by Goingslowly

A few weeks before I had complained to Tara that we had very few photos of Pete and I together. It's hard to get one when one of us always has the camera. Being the kind soul that she is, she took several for us until she got one she liked. I am very happy with this one. Thanks Tara!


Photo by Goingslowly

After breakfast the next morning we say our fourth goodbye. Each time it saddens us a bit more because we've gotten to know them a little better and  we like them a little more and we don't know if or when we will see them again.