Easy riding through the Central Highlands of Vietnam

Wednesday, March 7th 2018, we are in Hanoi preparing to take the plane to Myanmar tomorrow. Before leaving a quick update on our travels in Vietnam

We planned to fly to Hoi An from Nha Trang but Stefan met Mr. Hung in Da Lat and he convinced us to cancel our flight and go with him to Hoi An on a motorbike … and so we did. Now, at the end of our trip I am happy we changed our plans. We learned so much, saw a lot of rural Vietnam and experienced a seldom visited part of Vietnam. We can warmly recommend it in good weather and when you have time! We were lucky we did not see any rain until the last day.

“Love Valley” in Da Lat. The Vietnamese like kitsch, the park was full of little fairy tale statues and colored lights. We had fun 🙂
Our first stop, the statue of the Golden Buddha in Da Lat.
Cultivating silkworms on a bamboo rack. They have been fed well for the last days and are ready to make a cocoon.
Silk factory, the cocoons are being soaked in boiling water to ease unrolling the long fibres and put them on the spinning wheel. 3 to 10 strands are spun together to form one silk thread.
Winding the silk thread on spools.
Views on our way to Dak Lak. No rice fields because it is too high to cultivate rice. Instead they have lots of coffee plantations. Vietnam is the 2nd exporter of coffee in the world. Brazil is number one and Colombia is 3rd.
Thanks to our guide (Mr.Hung) we could visit the homes of several ethnic minorities during our trip. There are 54 ethnic minorities in Vietnam. They all speak different languages but some do speak the common Vietnamese language.
It is mostly women who work in the fields and collect wood to cook.
A floating village on Dak Lak lake.
Dak Lak lake early in the morning.
A M’nong elephant carer. To the M’nong elephants are symbols of wealth, power and strong spirit. That is why in this minority elephants are treated as a human being. The M’nong are well-known for their elephant training skills.
The M’nong live in a longhouse on stilts. There are around 80.000 M’nong living in Vietnam, mostly in the Central Highlands.
The M’nong are matrilineal so when a girl living in the house marries, another compartment is built to accommodate her and her husband. In this way, a family’s prosperity is evident from the length of the building. Some are up to 100 meters long.
We visited many ethnic groups but I forgot the names of all of them. They lived all very basic but we were always welcomed in their houses.
Even in the basic homes the TV was present :-). The government gives money so children will go to school but after primary school many drop out to help their parents on the fields.
Kitchen, in the rural communities they still use a woodfire for cooking.
The bathroom is outside
A typical image of Vietnam, motorcycles creatively packed. You see many flower vendors in Vietnam.
The communal house or “rong” of the Bahnar people. The rong is the focus of village life. They are usually between 15-20m high. Inside there is one room, with a very high ceiling.
The local children were playing in the rong and were happy to join in for a picture with Stefan.
Coming back down to the valley, the rice fields appear. They can plant 3 harvests here. It takes about 4 months for the rice to ripen for harvest.
Drying tapioca. Tapioca was the main, and sometimes the only, source of food during the wars. Tapioca flour is used in soups, candy, rice paper, cakes etc. Lesser quality is used as animal feed.
Stefan joining in for a betting game. (Vietnamese love betting) They laughed because he put his money on the crab, which is clearly not a favorite, and he won :-). Doubled his 0,30 eurocents wager!
Preparing for the TET (lunar New Year) festival. This pig did not make it to the New Year.
TET is all about being together with family, eating, telling stories from the past year,and preparing the food.
Also typical for Vietnam, the way they sit close to the floor, sometimes on a small chair but a lot of times not.
We visited an orphanage where 200 children stayed. Some had no parents but also a lot had one parent still alive but who could not take care of them. They get some money from the government but mostly from donations.
The typical Vietnam packed motorcycle :-).
The flower and fruit – passionfruit ! We ate so many fresh ones. Definitely my favorite fruit.
Another beautiful longhouse on stilts. Women and men each have their own ladder.
Dray Sap waterfall near Buon Ma Thuot. During the rainy season this is a wall of water.
Coming closer to Hoi An we saw more and more rice fields. The lively green color from the freshly planted rice is really beautiful.
The last day of our trip we had a bit of rain but Mr.Hung was prepared! He had rain jackets for all of us 🙂

During our trip we were amazed to see so many children and young people in Vietnam. I checked the statistics, 96 million people live in Vietnam, only 6% is older than 65, 40% is between 0-24 years old, 46%  between 25-54 years old, and 8% is between 55-64 years old (because of the war). Our guide told us that if you work for the government you are only allowed to have 2 children otherwise you lose your job.

The last 2 days of our trip we passed a lot of police controls and many cars and motorcycles were stopped. According to our guide this is because the police needed money for the New Year. It is always possible to avoid a fine if you pay them ‘black’ money. There is clearly still a lot of corruption in Vietnam. Another guide told us that government jobs are mostly bought.

The Vietnamese have suffered many wars. Vietnam fought wars against Japan (1945), France (First Indochina War, 1946-1955), and America (Second Indochina War, 1954-1975). While the country proudly celebrates its wins against foreign invaders, the border conflict from 1979 with China has been a taboo topic because of fear they would loose the economic cooperation from China.The conflict lasted only 27 days but tens of thousands civilians lost their lives. Today most Vietnamese are happy with the government because they have had peace since 1979.


4 thoughts on “Easy riding through the Central Highlands of Vietnam

  1. Mooie foto,s.Weeral ten volle genoten van jullie reis door Vietnam.Veel groetjes.

    1. Dank je wel Liliane. We zijn blij dat jullie mee genieten!!
      Liefs, Stefan en Ilse

  2. Prachtig Ilse, altijd zo leuk om jullie reis mee te volgen, na jullie terugkeer, kunnen jullie nieuwe reisgidsen op de markt brengen. xxx Justine

    1. Bedankt Justine! We zullen graag tips geven als jullie naar Vietnam willen! De wereld verandert wel supersnel.
      Dikke kus en knuffel

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