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One of the highlights of my trip to Vietnam was a visit to The Crazy House (believe it or not), located in the peaceful alpine suburbs of the city of Dalat, in the central highlands.
The official name of this amazing and whimsical villa/museum/gallery is Hang Nga Guesthouse and Gallery, named after its creator. Since opening in 1990, the bazaar assemblage has become known as “The Crazy House” – a work still in progress.
This swirling five-storied mass of yellow and black concrete is shaped like a Banyan tree with twisted roots extending in every direction and giant wire spider webs suspended from branches. Inside the tree, tucked away in the trunks are guestrooms and cubbyholes connected by a labyrinth of bridges, ladders, stairways and peach-coloured tunnels.
The designer of these organic free-form buildings is Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga (also known as Hằng Nga), the daughter of Truoung Chinh – the president of Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh. Dang Viet Nga holds a PhD in architecture from Moscow State University and attributes the inspiration of her buildings’ design to the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Visitors to this fantasy house will no doubt also feel a sense of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney here!
The interiors of the buildings are eccentric and original, with low-lying furniture and beds made to fit the various shapes that form a sleeping corner. The centrepiece of each room is a carved animal, insect or plant denoting the room’s theme. One can choose to sleep with an ant, tiger, pheasant, eagle or kangaroo (prices vary, starting from US$ 20). I wouldn’t actually recommend staying here unless you like being on display to tourists yourself!
Hang Nga House was designed to remind visitors of the integration of nature within a living, breathing environment. It is certainly worth spending more than 20 minutes here but unfortunately that was all the time we were given!