For those of you who don't already know, Dam Sen is located in the District 10/11 area a little ways away from District 1, but nothing a 100,000 Dong taxi ride shouldn't take care of. Now there's a separate water park that we didn't visit because it was too crowded. Don't confuse the two, there's separate entrances.
I didn't have much expectations when I went. This was not for my enjoyment first and foremost. I wanted Old Boy's daughter to have a good time on a weekend. The last time I went to Dam Sen was years ago during my first trip to Vietnam. My group which consisted of my mom, my aunt, my cousin and her two sons and a few local cousins. We were miserable. The July weather absolutely wiped us all out and we spent most of time riding around the golf carts not doing anything.
Flash forward many years later and my slightly longer legs didn't have much of a problem navigating around the park. Tickets were surprisingly cheap. The weather wasn't all that bad. The park wasn't as crowded as it was last time either.
Your first impression will definitely be that you're in Asia in a relatively third world. The aesthetics aren't always pleasing. Sometimes they can be downright weird and scary. The rides seem a little bit underwhelming, especially if you've been to Knotts Berry Farm or Magic Mountain. This will be more like a kiddy adventure land than anything. The games and attractions might seem a bit in need of some extra TLC or whatever, and at times I felt as if I was back at the Yangon Zoo for a bit. But nevertheless, it's a chill place to see things that you normally don't see in the city.
Such as a big congregation of countryside people who have never been on rides before. On one ride I sat next to a girl who was clearly from the countryside who screamed at the top of her lungs even though I absolutely felt nothing and could have sworn Chuck E Cheese's has more thrilling rides. I played the spot the city person from the countryside person throughout wherever I walked. It's getting easier and easier to do so. But then again, I've been here for a while... for someone like Anne, who is new to the group and relatively new to Vietnam, she doesn't have much of an idea of the difference. Most white dudes can't tell either. Then again, some locals might look at me and wonder which mountain I came down from.
Was my group really all that different than locals? Did we get stared at a lot? Hell yes. Did we all wear jeans? Hell no. Perhaps it's Old Boy. Perhaps it was because we looked like we were having a good time, smiling, laughing, and enjoying each other's company way more than the locals were. It looked like some of the "hot" girls were too hot to be outside. They were covered up from head to toe, looking miserable. We would cross paths with groups of random gangster bangster looking dudes and we would stare at each other ready for an eye rumble. And that was it. I kept reminding myself that the locals have probably never seen such spectacles like a giant ferris wheel or reminds of such before. I mean, I remember at Ba Na Hills, some Russians were pretty impressed with a "5D" ride that put me to sleep. Everything depends on our perspective after all.
It was such a cool experience because I felt like I was in America again. Our group spoke nothing but English, and that made me feel so comfortable. It felt like a bunch of good friends on a summer outing to a local theme park. It didn't feel like we were strangers in our parent's homeland. This reminded me of moments and memories with my family. It brought me back to a time when I went to Vietnam like many of you as purely a vacation means. I forgot that I wasn't going to hop on a plane anytime soon to go back to the real world. And for that, I felt amazing.
I also felt pretty amazing inside of the ice palace attraction. It was one of the best things I've experienced. I thought I could brace it without any protection, but I was pretty wrong. It was cold in there. I mean cold enough for ice not to melt. I'll let the pictures do most of the explaining, but it was just basically a building with ice sculptors and one seriously miserable photographer in there. That alone was so worth the trip. I didn't expect something like this and I was blown away. When I came back outside I was fucked up. The cold to the heat and humidity again reminded me of just how miserable I'll be in California's winters again, but it also reminded me that Vietnam can be so damn hot.
So there we were on a lake on a paddle boat. Old Boy trying to bump into people, I was trying to pretend like I was actually paddling, and I really believed that I was traveling in Vietnam, and this was just a summer vacation. It's good to be surrounded by like minded individuals close to my age. It was so fun. Canh came up to me and told me that he didn't have one intelligent conversation in two weeks in the countryside. The lines didn't matter. We were too busy just talking, bitching mostly, but nevertheless, sharing. Even though they didn't really notice it, but we were comparing aspects of life in California, in America, to aspects in Vietnam. And even though it's really nothing new, it's pretty awesome to know that I'm not the last remaining kind of my species. I have people just like me living in this place too. This made the slow moving lines move that much quicker.
Stay tuned to an edited quick video of Dam Sen.