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Across Vietnam’s Central Highlands, Part 1

Holy sweet heaven and earth. After four days on motorcycle and foot through the Central Highlands of Vietnam, I am ridiculously thankful for the experience and the new understandings gained, and ridiculously happy to now be in Nha Trang, showered, reuniting with old-new friends, and chilling the heck out.

After the initial day of test-driving the motorcycle through Dalat’s immediate surroundings, Lulu and I strapped our packs onto the back of a shiny blue Easy Riders motorcycle. “W-w-what?” you stutter– “I thought you were terrified of motorcycles!” That I am, deeply so. However, the Easy Riders had come so highly recommended by every traveler and guidebook I’d come across that I figured I’d give it a shot. I am extremely glad that I did, but hooo boy did some drama go down. More on that later, though.

Off we zoomed, up the hills leading out of Dalat (“Wave bye to the town!” Lulu hollered), and into the rich green mountains. The beauty was ahhhhh!, and Lulu’s narration finally illuminated parts of the country I didn’t previously get.

An hour in, we pulled up to one of a long string of persimmon stands, glowing fire orange and yellow-green. Lulu bought me a red one (sweet, juicy goodness!) and a green one (tart, crispy apple clone). Joy!

And then the woman with the red basket of ducklings arrived. The yellow darlings snuggled and peeped while the helmeted woman scooped them into a cardboard box for a buyer. In the background her own little human duckling scooted about in his baby cart. Agghhh I just wanted to bury my face in the ducklings and snuggle the baby, all at the same time!

Off next to a famous temple with three golden-shimmering sandalwood sculptures that had been imported from China.

Then across the rice fields! A narrow rocky road stretched for miles through electric green, and we pulled over to watch a line of people cutting the rows mechanically with hand knives. Lulu pulled a baby rice-ling from a stalk and I sampled it: starchy!
The rice workers waved and grinned, and Lulu explained that all of these crops we were seeing this week (rice, coffee, pepper, silk, vegetables, mushrooms, etc.) were pulling in truly decent money for the communities. Lulu’s motorbike had been bought with the financial help of his mother, a rice worker!

A flock of jubilant young girls skipped along the road past us giving each other bunny ears and yelling “Hello!!”

Then to a silk worm den (the silk creation step before the factory mentioned in the previous post) where rugged country folk scraped the worm cocoons off bamboo racks with dulled metal forks and spoons. An infant banged his own little spoon on the dirt, frustrated he couldn’t help. The basket of worms and cocoon shards wiggled.

The next stop was creeeepy: a mushroom blooming farm! Rows upon rows of bags filled with spores and dirt hung from the rafters, and cats-ear ‘shrooms stretched their hairy curves out of holes poked in the plastic. Really, really weird-looking!

As we rattled down the road we passed yards of dark-looking patches. “Coffee, drying in the sun,” Lulu explained, stopping to break a bean open. Yum yum.

I’ve got two hundred and ten more photos, people, so stay tuned.

The Wormy Side of Silk Creation!
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Wednesday 26th of May 2010

Luddy Sr. said... Sweet photos!!

December 10, 2009 10:08 PM

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