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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 14 Mar 2007

Location: Central Highlands, Vietnam

MapNam and I were on the road by 9:30.

I just have to insert my comment here that I haven't used this evil evil thing we call an alarm clock that makes extremely loud annoying sounds to wake you up since I started traveling, and I'm proud to say that I've been waking up at all the appropriate times, early or late (though I have had my sleep in days). It's kind of a free feeling knowing you're not enslaved by the sound of the alarm in the morning.

We drove through little towns for awhile lined with the local shops and cafes--once in awhile stopping for a fresh cup of that strong Vietnamese coffee. Then once we were out of urban civilization, we encountered nature and beauty that would remain with us for the rest of the trip. I must explain my feelings. Picture riding down a curvy highway on the back roads with mountain silhouettes, and valleys and hills composed of a lush, green canvas of all kinds of flora, including palm trees and banana plants (no shortage of these in Vietnam)--on the back of a motorcycle with the wind blowing through your hair and body (and yes, I was wearing a helmet). I felt a sense of freedom that has never before been experienced. I savoured every moment of this feeling. I would have been happy just going and going and going on the motorcycle and not making any stops. We stopped at a waterfall for a refreshing swim. I met some local kids who had the day off from school and were enjoying it by swimming by the falls and enjoying the hot sun. They didn't speak any English but were very friendly and certainly enjoyed being in the presence of a foreigner. Nam waited for me at the cafe so he could look after my belongings.

After about an hour, we headed off again. We were now on our way further into the hills inhabited by the minority people of Vietnam. The first village we went to was the Cat too minority (The spelling is wrong, I'm spelling the names as you would pronounce them). The villagers were having some sort of festival and communing by the long house (a communal building made of bamboo on stilts where villagers gather for meetings or socializing). They also speak their own language--not Vientamese. As poor as these people are, I don't think I've ever seen such happy kids--full of smiles and hugs. They don't have the luxuries of tv, computer, internet, video games, though some are beginning to acquire tvs with one or two channels, or even other basics like a pair of shoes, proper plumbing or running water--all the things we take for granted. Once again, I have to get on my soap box here as I think of how too many of us yearn and yearn and yearn for more, and a lot of us just can't be happy with what we have--ok off the soap box now. It was a heartwarming moment to say the least. The villagers also have radio broadcasts setup by the government with messages on proper living and ethics (according to my guide).

The rest of the day was spent driving and stopping at other villages (of the same cat too minority). We arrived in a village not inhabited minorities and our hotel by 5 pm. Stayed in a nice, clean room. I was expecting worse in these parts, but it was pretty good. Went for fried rice with vegetables and a local beer (called 333). It gets dark by about 6:30 or 7:00, so Nam and I went to our rooms (not much to do in this place at night), and I relaxed and read the rest of the evening. A fantastic day it was!