July 13th 2013.
Although Dr Alexandre Yersin had discovered Dalat since 1893 and almost immediately many French architects had made plans to build villas and houses in the newly-discovered city, only until 1910 had the first Inn, forerunner of Hotel du Lac, been built; 然后, in the 1920s Palace Hotel was built, and afterwards in the 1930s the Saint Benoit residential area and beautiful villas on Rue des Glaïeuls, Rue des Roses were built and until 1940 clusters of villas and houses surrounded the Lake of Dalat…
After almost 30 years of construction, Dalat has changed her look and become a beautiful city with thousands of villas and different houses of distinct architecture; and it is from this time did fireplaces appear and come into vogue in Dalat. The first reason may be because the French architects wanted to design and build villas in Dalat in a similar appearance and architecture of the style of Paris, the capital of France, where there was normally a fireplace in every household. The next reason may be because the weather was very cold in Dalat – it was said that it had been so cold that the surface water was frozen – and the fireplace became a must to warm the house up, especially during winter months; but it is perhaps because the fireplace has adorned the sitting – room and created a unique feature in decor. Many people wish to have a fireplace in their house, there are even people who make a fake fireplaces just to satisfy their desire!
The fireplace has double uses: decorate the sitting – room and provide a place in-house to make a fire on cold nights to get extra warmth … Even on rainy days, humidity being rather high, you are caught in the rain and get wet, then walk into the house and are wrapped by the heat from the fireplace, how much relieved you feel, and your wet clothes are gradually dry … There are evenings when the family members gather around the fireplace, watching the flickring flame and the sound of wood burning out… The warmth evading from the fireplace fills our heart with love, then the smell of burning wood dilates our nostrils and this flickering flame seems to make the room more marvellous, much brighter when the thick shadows of night come and cover all hills, mountains and forests … How excited we are when when we grill dried cuttlefish over the embers or bury sweet potatoes in the hot ahses and wait until they are cooked and the sweet –smelling odor pervades thoughout the room … but for young children, the fireplace is a place full of legendary stories: The wicked witch riding on the broom flies from the fireplace, or Santa Claus squeezing his fat body to go down the chimney and sending gifts to good children … It is by the fireplace that on Christmas Eve, children hang stockings where gifts from Santa Claus are kept and the next morning, they rush to get their gifts … and for lovers or newly-wed couples, sitting by the fireplace, huddling together for warmth, whispering for the whole night, may be the most ideal time …
Why not come back to Dalat to enjoy these interesting moments to the full, from the fireplace in cosy houses by the green grassy hills, near the whispering pine forest and beside the colorful flower garden?
By Bui Thanh Long