Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Crazy House in Dalat
Crazy house, Hang Nga Gallery and Guesthouse (Admission: 80000VND; tel: 882070; fax: 831480; 3 D Huynh Thuc Khang) is about 1 km southwest of Xuan Huong Lake. The Architecture is something straight out of Alice in Wonderland and can't easily be described: there are caves, giant spider webs made of wire, concrete tree trunks, a nude female statue, a concrete giraffe with a tea room built inside and caged turkeys providing the surreal soundtrack.
The gallery's designer, Mrs Dang Viet Nga, is from Hanoi and lived in Moscow for 14 years, where she earned a PhD in architecture. She dresses in pure 1960s hippie garb, burns incense and has something of an air of mystery about her. Hang Nga, as she's known locally, has designed a number of other buildings, which dot the landscape around Dalat, including the Children'd Cultural Palace and the Catholic church in Lien Khuong.
The Dalat People's Committee has not always appreciated such innovative designs. An earlier Dalat architectural masterpiece, the House with 100 roofs, was torn down as a "fire hazard" because the People's Committee thought it looked "antisocialist". However, there is little chance that Hang Nga will have such trouble with the authorities (her father, Truong Chinh, was Ho Chi Minh's successor). He served as Cietnam's second president from 1981 until his death in 1988.