Central Highlands-part 2

Such nice teeth!

At the first village of Kotu people we fell in love with a baby monkey and these ladies were really impressed with our white teeth. They thought Kye should do toothbrush commercials on TV. They did not speak Vietnamese so a younger woman translated for our guides, who translated for us. It was a really enjoyable visit. I love it when people allow me take their photos, but don’t try to pose.

On the second day we happened on a special event happening in the village of M’nonc Lam. The men were drunk and singing while a water-buffalo bull was decorated and tied up. Apparently, he was soon to be killed and eaten. We were invited to stay, but it would have been an all day affair, so had to leave after a couple of hours. I felt like a National Geographic photographer catching a scene like this:

Our tour ended in the southern city Dalat, which is the favorite city of all Vietnamese people because it is higher in elevation which gives it a cooler climate. Flowers and berries and other fruits are grown here that do not grow elsewhere in the country. It is also a favorite honeymoon location. We spent a couple days in Dalat, took a bus to the beach town of Na Trang for 2 nights and then back up to Danang.

We had another week together in Danang and Hoi An. He spent a few days exploring Ho Chi Minh City before flying home to the US. It would have been a wonderful trip on my own, but doing it with my son made it so much more. I think it may rate as my favorite travel adventure ever.

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Central Highlands motorbike trip with my son

Traveling with my grown son, yes!

I have one son and lucky for me, he’s awesome. Near the end of my time teaching in Vietnam, Kye (27 at the time) came to visit and seek adventure with me for about 3 weeks. We spent the first week in the Danang area seeing some sights together. He also went out exploring and meeting people on his own. The second week I had arranged a motorbike trip with a couple of Easy Riders (see below). We spent the days, each on the back of our guides Trong and Hy’s bikes.

Starting in Danang on a Saturday morning we rode inland to Kham Due and then continued south down the Ho Chi Minh Highway which roughly follows the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail used during the war. It is a two-lane road that runs north-south on the western side of the country. It was in good shape, except when occasionally it wasn’t. There were no tourist buses and the only other westerners we saw were on motorbikes, like us. Here’s some pics of my fabulously talented and good-looking son:

Travel Tip:Easy Riders are individuals and groups of men who give 1 day or longer tours on the back of their bikes. Most bikes in VN are just 100cc, the Easy Riders usually have 150’s that are all tricked out to look and sound like bigger bikes. Some cities have very organized groups with websites; they all claim to be the original group. Many of these guys speak several languages. Some got their English skills working with American’VNwKYEs during the war, which they paid dearly for, but are now able use to their advantage. I had great luck using Easy Riders in several cities, but like always, take the time to talk and research before making any deals.

Over the next days we stopped at 2 or 3 hill tribe villages a day. We made frequent stops at waterfalls, cafes, and nice views that were obviously places that our guides always stop. We also stopped at anything interesting that was happening along the road, like people harvesting or drying their crops. Trong always asked questions and translated for us, which really added to the experience. We were able to make connections with people on an hourly basis rather than just zipping by everything.

A couple of our night’s accommodations were fine, while one was pretty awful. We were traveling to some areas that foreigners have to have permits to be in (the guides take care of this) and all hotels in VN have to be registered to accept foreigners. So in a couple of these small cities like Buon Ma Thuot they are the only ones registered and there are so few tourists that they can give you a crappy room, cause you are stuck with them.

Aside from my back side getting really sore, by the end of the journey, that was my only complaint. We saw such beautiful sights; from magnificent waterfalls coming out of the jungle, coffee and tea plantations to small farms and villages. Absolutely magnificent views were seen all the way along the trail. We were invited into villages and homes. More stories and photos in the next post…