06.04.2011 - 06.04.2011 29 °C
The day started early with a cheery grin from TiTi and Hiep as they waited outside our hotel for us. These guys make you laugh for no apparent reason and seeing them sitting outside mucking around with their motorbikes you just can’t help but have a chuckle. Looking at their old ‘battle-axe’ Hondas is an experience in itself, every scratch and dint holds a story and the thought that we might be making our own stories on these bikes over the next three days was a slightly daunting one.
On the way out of town we stopped at a little house and followed TiTi inside. Half of the house was dedicated to the production of tofu. Apparently while the kids are at school mum and dad make tofu all day and then after school the kids hurry home to start work as well. In Vietnam only hard effort pays the bills.
Further out of town we also had the opportunity to witness coffee bean de-husking, mushroom drying, and a tea farm.
^^ Drying mushrooms
^^ Coffee being de-husked
^^ At the tea farm
Next stop was at Cam Ly base, an old U.S Army airbase that provided air support for the south army fighting in the central highlands. Most of the base has been dismantled and in some local houses you can see parts of the helicopter landing-bay now being used as fencing.
The guys are super knowledgeable and are constantly spewing information the entire ride, they are like text books on motorbikes and it is impossible to write down everything they were telling us, so I’ll just try and remember the main parts of the day .
Next stop was Phi To village, a local village where the K’ Ho minority people live, our first taste of the real tribal Vietnam. They live in small mud houses and most of the men are out in the mountains with the water buffalo in the rice fields for weeks at a time. We had the privilege of touring their small village and handing corn candy to the children. Corn candy is also a first, an actual lolly that tastes like corn, wasn’t horrendous but I wouldn’t say it’s a real treat, although the kids couldn’t get enough.
^^ Angelo. . .
^^ Where's Blacky?
^^ Lots of pigs in Phi To
^^ Family in Phi To
After more twisting and winding up the mountain roads we stopped at another small village. Darsal village is where the Chil minority people call home.
Further up the road the boys let us off and we slowly wandered along the mountain pass, admiring the view and stretching our legs. The guys are really considerate and concerned about the health of our arses and are stopping every 10-15 minutes for a little walk along the road, also one of the reasons why it takes 3 days to get to Nha Trang.
It wasn’t long before we entered Dak Lak province and stopped at Krong No for some much needed hydration, although we accidently walked through the meat market which was fairly disturbing. I’m still deciding what was worse; what the meat used to be, or the air thick with enormous black flies.
Next stop was a little village where the Taq people live. All the minorities have different construction methods and these particular people use bamboo and mud for their dwellings. It was funny when we walked around the house and found the huge satellite dish for the plasma tv inside. Obviously silk worm farming makes good Dong.
^^ Silk worms
Next to the village was a chance to test the Vietnamese bridge construction. As much a structure as it was an arranged bundling of sticks. Fairly frightening but exciting crossing, although apparently they drive motorbikes over it, which is really scary!
Further up the road was a real bridge, but also a place where some Vietnamese people from the Mekong call home.
Finally we make it to Buon Jun village where we are spending the night. We had the option of private bungalows outside of the settlement, but we chose to rough-it in a homestay right in the heart of the village, alongside the dogs, roosters, pigs, goats, and buffalo.
^^ Learning about rice
^^ Buon Jun Village
Today was packed full of so much that I can’t write about it all. If the next couple of days are like this one, we are going to need a couple of rest days when we arrive in Nha Trang!