Day 2 of the Tour of the Central Highlands of Vietnam – From Lak Lake to Beyond Buon Ma Thuot
After a floating breakfast of fresh bread with sliced cheese and a cup of Liptons tea (yes, it’s everywhere) we headed off at 8.30am. First we stopped at a small palace that was built by the emperor Bao Dai and has now been turned into a very nice hotel. Well worth considering if you’re looking for something a little more upmarket than the basic accommodation at the holiday complex.
Continued on observing rural life stopping at a village market to buy some tropical fruits, none of which we’d ever seen in the west. The people in these markets very rarely see any foreigners so it’s a real novelty when any drop in. They’re very friendly and find it hilarious that I’m 6’5″ tall, almost double the height of many of them.
Buon Ma Thuot
We entered the town of Buon Ma Thuot which was a key location during the American War. It’s fall to the North Vietnamese was the stepping stone for an assault on Saigon. Today it is a busy market town with an important war memorial in its centre. We travelled a few kilometres beyond the town and pulled into another holiday complex where smart bungalows were available for $10US per night and the central bar/restaurant area offered a great range of Vietnamese food and ice cold Saigon Export beer.
Once we’d checked in we drove to the impressive Gia Long waterfall then walked back along the riverbank with Phu guiding us for about 7km through lush green forest. The route included more quite spectacular waterfalls and interesting vegetation including corn and cotton fields.
Tam was waiting for us with the vehicle and drove us back to our accommodation via a brick factory. As always the people working there were so friendly and were delighted to show us how they collected clay from the riverbank, compressed in a little machine which formed the brick shape and sliced it. The bricks are then dried in the sun before being hardened in a furnace. It’s hard, dirty work carried out all day long, day after day yet the people seemed so content with their lot.
Back at the bungalow area we applied our array of anti-mosquito creams and sprays as dusk approached, sprayed the room with insecticide and set mosquito coils burning. We’d decided not to take malaria pills so we were being ultra cautious yet we were pleasantly surprised to find that there seemed to be very few mosquitos around. Phu had told us in advance that there weren’t any mosquitos in the Central Highlands which certainly sounded like a sales pitch if ever I’d heard one yet he seemed to be right so far. He’s actually from Pleiku in the Highlands to the north and obviously malaria had never been an issue for him or his family.
The food tonight was excellent consisting mainly of a boiling pot of stock on the table kept hot with charcoal to which we added chunks of fish and leaf vegetables which we ate with noodles. Very nice but very tricky with chopsticks.