"Central Highlands, Vietnam" Leeandcathy's photos around Saigon, Vietnam (elephant trek vietnam)





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Published on Dec 7, 2010

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Entry from: Saigon, Vietnam
Entry Title: "Central Highlands, Vietnam"


"Thur 16 June - Day 42. Sunny spell 34C We leave Nha Trang at 8.30am in a minibus headed for Lak Lake in the Central Highlands. There's 6 of us plus our guide Kuong and the driver Long (Lom). We have booked through a company called Vu Tours which had a good recommendation in Lonely Planet. The Central Highlands cover the southern part of the Truong Sou Mountain Range and is renowned for its cool climate, mountain scenery, innumerable streams, lakes and waterfalls. Its also home to many highland minority groups or montaguards. The highlands were considered strategically important during the American war with the area seeing a great deal of fighting. After 2 hours of driving we see our first evidence of the destruction caused by the Americans in the war as we reach an area known as Eagle Pass. We have climbed steadily into the mountains on a narrow winding road with dense lush forest on either side, when suddenly the forest stops and as we climb further and as far as the eye can see the landscape is bare. This was caused by the chemical known as Agent Orange which was dropped on huge areas of Vietnam to kill the trees and undergrowth in which the Viet Cong were hiding and fighting. Over 35 years later, still nothing survives in the burned soil which refuses to recover. By mid afternoon, following a brief stop at a coffee plantation and a stop for lunch, we reach Jun village on the edge of the picturesque Lak Lake. The locals here are M'nong, a matrilineal tribe in which the family name is passed down through the female line and children are considered members of their mothers family. The M'nong are fiercely belligerent towards other tribes in the area but luckily not towards to us. They live in thatch roofed stilt houses, farm, fish and hunt wild elephants. Joe and Holly, much more detail available if you look up Vietnamese Hill Tribes on the internet. A slow stroll throu Jun is follwed by a short boat ride to Lien village on a small island on Lak Lake. Again all the houses are long stilt houses, with a 4ft gap between ground and floor levels, this helps prevent flooding during the wet season and also provides shelter for the families livestock. The village is alive with free roaming cows, chickens. mini pigs, dogs, puppies and huge pot belly pigs. On the walk back to the boat a snake is spotted, about 4ft long and dark green. Luckily Rene was towards the back and with everyone aware of her phobia, she was stopped in her tracks and made to close her eyes until it had slithered out of sight. She walked a little quicker after that. We also saw an elephant in the bush, about 10 yards from the path. These elephants are captured as calfs in the wild and then trained to lift and pull anything the villagers can't lift or pull themseles. When not in use the elephants just seem to wander around eating. After a fascinating afternoon we travel 2km to our accomodation. We are staying in a mock thatched roof stilt house constructed exactly as we'd seen earlier near a small lake with a floating restaurant and concrete shower blocks. Not quite what we had been led to believe. The floating restaurant is actually built on stilts, has a long wooden walkway and is surrounded by flowering waterlillies and is lovely as is Helene a local M'nong girl who serves us beer and food. A table full of local men had been drinking all afternoon and took a shine to Rene, trying to get her to down her beer in 1, she failed and is now the 3rd wife of a local elephant hunter. We also chat to a local farmer who has taught himself English listening to World Service broadcasts and reading books. He gives us a fascinating nsight into loval life, before, during andafter the American war. Later we retired to our stilt ..."
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Photos from this trip:
1. "Arrival in Saigon - torrential rain"
2. "Baby Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, Lak Lake"
3. "Big pig, Lak Lake"
4. "Canoeing Yok Don 1"
5. "Canoeing Yok Don 2"
6. "Canoeing Yok Don 3"
7. "Central Highlands"
8. "Coffee plantation"
9. "Cu Chi Tunnel trap"
10. "Dug out canoe, Lak Lake"
11. "Dug out canoes, Yok Don"
12. "Hidden Cu Chi Tunnel entrance. Hideous Korean shoe"
13. "Holes in canoe, Yok Don"
14. "Local villager, Yok Don National Park"
15. "Mnong Nan (Mnong are the local minority people)"
16. "Village on Lak Lake"
17. "Yok Don National Park"

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