Tuesday, September 4, 2007


It's easy to sympathize with the French, who built this town from scratch at 5,000 feet, displacing the local people, as a summer resort from the heat and smog of Saigon, 190 miles southeast. Alexandre Yersin, the doctor who discovered the plague pathogen, identified this plateau as an ideal location for a health resort in 1893. Interest in the place waned until the 1920s, when the colonial government developed the splendiferous Lang Bian (now the Dalat) Palace Hotel and golf course, while damming the Cam Ly River to create what is now Xuan Hong Lake. A 1932 cog railway carried people up from the coast and until World War II, a building boom prevailed, with hundreds of villas being built in all styles of architecture.

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