Crazy House in Dalat – a photo journey
The Crazy House is one of Dalat’s must see tourist destinations, or so you would think reading any guide about the place. Intrigued, we set off on our scooters with three excited kids to see the “Dr.Seuss” creation, which actually had nothing to do with it, but seemed like an appropriate and quick description to spark their interest.
In fact the house was dreamed of by the Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga with the help of hallucinogens in the form of the work of Antoni Gaudi, animism and a substantial dose of inability to settle in the established norms. It is the only way that someone could have not only imagined this place, but made it into reality.
For 30,000 dong ($1.50) , paid to the lady inside a room with the narrow door, we enter a world like no other. The five story house is weaved by organic shaped stairways and looks like an enormous banyan tree, only with little windows poking out from any shape imaginable, except good old fashioned rectangular.
Almost nothing in this place was drawn with a ruler. The experience of walking through it, ducking at the narrow bits, holding onto the wavy walls and looking around the corner at yet another amazing view is akin to being a child again, when everything was new and exciting.
Inside, the house is mysterious and the grand exterior is replaced with tiny musky rooms, each with a tea set on a table, waiting patiently for its, what I imagine, weird inhabitants – gnomes, flying dwarf characters or maybe even you (the place is an actual running guesthouse).
Even though the irregular shaped sleeping nooks with perfectly fitted mattresses look inviting, I dont find they manage to overcome the creepy feeling I get looking into each of the animal themed rooms.
The kids are squealing with pleasure, as we advance through the Crazy House. Their eyes wide opened not to miss anything.
“It IS like Dr.Seuss! It is!” exclaims my daughter as she takes on another one of the staircases.
Most of the house may be made out of ferro concrete, but I challenge anyone to spot it through the flowing branches, nooks and crannies. The shapes, coupled with the well maintained plants poking through in just the right places, make for a truly organic experience and even as I touch the cool walls, I find it hard to believe the house didnt spring from a seed in the ground many, many years ago.
The Crazy House is still in construction and it looks like it will always be evolving and changing. After walking around all of it, we keep on looking around the corners, hoping there is something else to see and we leave wanting more.
Just like any bureaucracy, the Vietnamese people’s committees approving projects like this are slow and conservative. In the case of the Crazy House though, is an example how connections and special privileges can bring about not only forgotten speeding tickets, but things of wonder..
As we walk out, I am grateful that Hang Nga turned out to be daughter of Truong Chinh, the prime minister after Ho Chi Minh, or else this place would have never seen the light of day. And it definitely needs to be there.