(VOVworld) – Da Lat coffee attracts many tourists to the highland city. Local cafes vary in style from budget to deluxe, from bustling to laid-back. There are cafes suitable for large gatherings of friends and cafes for couples in love.
On a pine-covered hill not far from the city center, Diem Xua café opens at 9pm every day, welcoming its guests with the serene sound of a guitar playing the featuring of a well-known melody ‘Diem xua’ or ‘Old Flame’ by the late composer Trinh Cong Son.
We’re here on a persistently rainy night. It’s said that it’s unlucky to visit Da Lat on a rainy day but for us, it wasn’t true. Sitting by a hot cup of coffee in flickering candle light, we felt warm and comfortable while enjoying the breathy voice of a singer performing ‘Old Flame’ to the guitar accompaniment.
The half-familiar, half-strange voice of Khanh Tam, the café owner, touched the guests. Tam has been called “the Khanh Ly of Dalat” for the similarity of her voice and the kind of music she performs. Talking to Tam, I was amazed by her resemblance to Khanh Ly. Tam says :“The only similarity between Khanh Ly and me is that we are both Vietnamese. I have been in love with Trinh Cong Son’s songs since I was little when I even didn’t even understand the meaning of the lyrics. I’m 60 years old now, but I keep on singing because it’s a way to express my feelings”.
Two-thirds of the patrons here are young people, not old or middle-aged. That’s the motto of the Diem Xua café: a meeting place for everyone who loves Trinh Cong Son’s music, regardless of age. Vo Phuong Vien, from the southern city of Phan Rang, says: “This is the 2nd time I’ve been to this café. I came here as soon as I set foot in Da Lat to enjoy Trinh’s songs which are performed simply and sincerely. Customers are drawn to the music more than the drinks, and when they leave they feel more relaxed.”
Leaving the café on the pine hill and the haunting voice of Khanh Tam, we continued exploring Da Lat at night. The ‘Cung Dan Xua’ café, a small, quiet shop in the city center, was our next stop. Unlike Diem Xua which is wholly dedicated to Trinh’s songs, ‘Cung dan xua’ presents songs by various artists including Pham Duy, Ngo Thuy Mien, Doan Chuan, and Tu Linh.
In a charming long traditional Vietnamese dress, Ms. Hong, the owner, singer, and MC of ‘Cung Dan Xua’, eagerly welcomed us. Hong said she opened the café as a venue for her to sing, listen to others singing, and meet those who share the same musical interests. She confides that her café pursues semi-classical music, simple but profound, so not everyone can appreciate this genre: ” I love music but in fact I’ve been an English teacher since 1981. I decided to open my own café after one time when I sang in a café for fun. I haven’t been trained professionally.”
The later it got, the more people came into the café, and nobody wanted to leave because of the wonderful music. Da Lat, the city of four winters, attracts visitors with flowers, pine hills, and music cafes.