Before we booked any tour we had a chat with a couple of travellers in the hostel. Many people were talking about The Secret Tour. We didn't know what this exactly meant and we were very interested and wanted to know more about it. No one gave us details about the tour but they all said one and the same thing. "Just do it and we promise you won't regret."
Hayley and I talked about it and decided to go to the Pink House, the only place where you can book the secret tour. We have not regretted this decision once. It was the most incredible but intense day of our travel life so far.
Mr. Rot is an amazing local guy from a village in the highlands and his funny personality makes everyone laugh and happy. Spending the day with him was unforgettable. He showed us all his little secrets, secrets that only a small amount of people get the chance to see and experience.
To start the day we went to a local village to visit a cricket farm. These insects have become an Asian delicacy for reasons I really don't understand. They eat these crickets in the local pub with a beer. Apparently they taste like popcorn or nuts. You can eat them raw or roasted. Some of the group were adventurous enough to give it a try. Hayley and I just couldn't do it. It was way to early in the morning and maybe also a little bit frightening.
Afterwards we visited a food market. This market was a whole lot different than tourist markets. Not any other tourist but us were on this market. There were all different kinds of species and foods we had never heard about before. Mr. Rot bought us some fruits and veggies and we tasted all of them. Some were very tasty, others were just gross.
We learnt a lot about market life and how to bargain like a local. Mostly men provide the food and women sell it on the market. And we definitely noticed that there were no men at the market except for Mr. Rot of course. Also if you are the very first customer of the day and have interest in a product you have to buy it, otherwise it is bad luck for this shop for the rest of the day. Men are not supposed to bargain at all while women can easily bargain. This is also why there are no men on the market.
Something we found very interesting on the market was the "Hang Ma", which are paper items of everything you can think of. Paper clothing, paper air conditioning, paper cellphones, paper money... These are paper offerings you can buy for your family members who have recently passed away. They believe that when they burn these paper items that they travel up as smoke to the afterlife to be used by the dead relatives.
The highlight of the day was when Mr. Rot brought us to a remote village in the highlands. We are not supposed to say too much about this part of the day hence why it is called the secret tour. But what we can say is that this was the most humbling experience of our life. It made us realize how much we have and how lucky we are. Life is very hard for these people and to get up close and personal gave us a reality check. We cried and laughed, we were even shocked at some points. It always amazes us how generous these people are when they have so little to give. There are no words for what they have gone through and the rippling effects of their past trauma has on their day to day life. Even days later we thought back about this day as it has changed our perception on life.
We hope that every traveller feels the need to get to know more about the culture and the local community and that this article makes you want do the secret tour. We highly recommend this tour with Mr. Rot because it was life changing for us and many more travellers. We have not made photos to respect their privacy. But in this case photos are not the most important thing. It is the experience that make it count and you can be sure that you will never forget this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even without any photos. You will get asked to not talk about any details like places you've been and the people you've met.
Mr Rot's Secret Tour
Villa Pink House, 7 Hai Thuong St, Da Lat
T: (0913) 953 300, (063) 381 5667