Welcome to Viet Nam


Vietnam flagPhoto essay:
Vietnam Bicycle Tour: Imperial Roots (Central)


An Khe – Pleibroum (70km, 44mi) self-contained ride and over-night stay in E’de minority village.

Points of interest: Bahnar and E’de ethnic minorities, corn, cotton, Yangnam cemetary

  students bicycle Non-motorized transport is still very common throughout the country.  Around An Khe a lot of students bicycle (left) and people use shoulder poles (right) to carry goods to and from the market. women use shoulder poles
  Central Highlands  As the climate changes so does the agriculture and so does the produce drying along the road.  In the Central Highlands you are more likely to see corn (left and right) or cassava. Corn drying along the road
  Traveling sales woman A common mode of travel for traveling sales people in rural Vietnam is motorcycle.  This woman (left) came to the village in the morning with vegetables.  At about the same time a man is setting out in his boat (right). Man setting out in his boat
   Woman washing pans near a pond This woman is washing pans near a pond (left) surround by banana trees and other crops.  Perhaps as a substitute for newspapers, educational messages on billboards are a regular sight (right). educational messages on billboard
  Bana or Bahnar buildings Bana or Bahnar is an official ethnic community in Viet Nam.  The language is from the Mon-Khmer / Central Bahnaric group.  Generally the people live on and farm on mountain slope. Slash and burn agriculture, hunting, gathering and weaving made up the traditional lifestyle. Each village has a communial Rong stilt house, where public activities are held, guests are received, and unmarried men sleep at night.   Young girl
   Mother and child

Traditionally the Bana are Mother and childmatrilineal but the system is fading.  After the wedding a couple may go to the bride’s parents, but they can later go to the grooms family.  When a baby is one month old, the parents hold a ceremony where the soul is introduced into the child’s ear.

Mother and child
  Traditional rice wine This gentleman is selling traditional rice wine -- by the jug.  
  school, Yangnam The school (left) and post office (right)  in Yangnam.  Life changed a lot in Yangnam in 2004 when a new road and power lines came to town.  Even so, government employees in town from other regions commented on feeling  isolated. post office, Yangnam
  school teachers came to the well to bath and wash clothes Late afternoon was when the school teachers came to the well to bath and wash clothes (left).  Some  gave the impression that they were more used to piped water systems than dropping a bucket into the well and hauling it up.  The typical housing in Yangnam (right)  is very modest traditional stilt homes. Traditional thatched roofs are very rare.  The houses generally have metal or tile roofs. typical housing in Yangnam
  housing in Yangnam Yangnam has a few significantly larger and more affluent house.  The business at one, and presumably a profitable one, was making some kind of alcoholic beverage. housing in Yangnam
  Gathering spot, Yangnam Responce to our request for a light lunch One of the place to hangout in Yangnam is the combination restaurant, bar and pool hall (left). One person who spent several hours there is the math teacher from the school (right).  He is also a guitarist.  Vietnamese ethnic cultures are typically rich in oral literature, with long poems, folktales and folk songs.

We asked for a simple lunch and they pretty much filled the table with food.

math teacher from the school
  people now wait for transportation With the new road people now wait for transportation (left).  transporting goods with a basket
  transporting goods with a basket Traditionally the chief means of transporting goods was with a basket with two shoulder straps. transporting goods with a basket
  Bahnar funerary house Ede funerary statue xThe E'de buy the dead in short, flat-end, canoe shaped coffins (right) and celebrate abandonment of the tomb ceremony.  When the mourning is finished a ceremony is held to abandon the tomb.  The ritual involves making a funerary house with carved statues, some sexually explicit (left and below).  The E'de possess a rich and unique treasury of oral literature including myths, legends, lyrical songs, and proverbs.  Their plastic art is unique, with patterns wove in cloth, and particularly decorative sculptures ornamenting funerary structures and ritual masts.  Traditional religion is polytheistic; they pray for bumper harvests and good health.  The most important rite is worshiping the Rice Spirit. Bahnar bury their dead in coffins that look like short, flat-end, dug out canoes
  Bahnar funerary house Bahnar funerary house    Bahnar funerary house    Bahnar funerary house Ede funerary structure
    Ede funerary statue Ede funerary statue  
   traditional house The traditional religion is animistic.  There many rites related to agriculture, including a buffalo sacrifice which uses a ritual mast (right).
  route between rural villages After Yangnam the road disappears and the cycling gets better (left).  Though bicycles are a common mode of transport our guide for this section hired a soldier with a motorcycle to take him as he showed us the way.
  kids with bicycles Next time through maybe we will be able to hire one of these kinds as a guide.  There is some sensitivity about traveling in some ethnic areas so local guides are recommended. girl with bicycle
   Ba River A very nice feature of this route was several miles along the Ba River. Ba River
   tuber  Along the river some tuber was being grown.  They were bagged and ready to go to market (left).  Also in the agricultural mix was cotton (right), and cotton
  Farm in ethnic minority community banana Farm in ethnic minority communityAgriculture dominates the economy. papaya
  Slash and burn agriculture In the more remote areas -- areas with sufficient forest -- rotating, cut and burn, methods of agriculture are used.  As the population increases, pressure on the land becomes more intense, but any given plot is not allowed to stand fallow for as many years between cultivation.  Increasing the land becomes less fertile, yields drop and more land has to be cleared -- more often. Farm in ethnic minority community
  buffalo cart In addition to bicycle and motorcycle, travel and transport here is by buffalo cart and cow with a travois. cow travese
  family digging cassava family digging cassavaThis family is digging cassava. One of the interest opportunities of digital cameras is the ability to show people their picture (far right).  God only knows what they think of seeing their miniature image on the LED screen, but the interaction usually gets a warm smile. family digging cassava
  Kids under a tree, Pleibroum Kids look at themselves on digital camera, PleibroumAnd another example of digital ice-breaking, as in sharing digital photographs.  
  Someplace in this area we changed to the E'de or Rade ethnic community.  The E'de is a Malayo-Polynesian / Chamic group and official ethnic community in Viet Nam. Cultivate rice and other crops using simple tools (cutlass and digging stick), with rotational cut and burn method.  New crops, grow with modern methods include peppers, coffee, cotton, corn and cashews.  The keep livestock and poultry. There is still some hunting and gathering. Kids watching us pass through their village Pleibroum village
  E'de or Rade ethnic community The chief means of transporting goods is a woven basket with two straps.  They also use elephants for transport and travel in lower western areas.  The traditional E'de family is matrilineal.  After the wedding ceremony the couple lives with the wife’s family.  E'de or Rade ethnic community
  Afternoon dip in the river The place to be in the afternoon is the river side.  On the far side of the river, in wells dug in the sand bar (for filtering), the women collect water and haul it up the steep river bank and back to the village (right).  The children are under no such burden and played for hours in the water. carrying water up from the river
  Kids watching frizbee, Pleibroum Kids play frizbee, PleibroumBack in the village we entertained and later engaged the children with a Frisbee.  They were shy and reserved for awhile but late got fully involved and chased the disk to all corners of the filled and occasionally beyond. Kids go for the frizbee, Pleibroum
  Young woman bicyclist Girls arriving from school on their bicycles, Pleibroum Girl coming from school on bicycle, PleibroumIn the late afternoon, when the students returned from school, several of the  bicyclist in the village that came to see what we were doing.  It would have been helpful if our Vietnamese was better -- existent! Young man bicyclist
  Buildings in Pleibroum Buildings in Pleibroum were mostly traditional stilt-style constructions.  There is a mix of both metal and thatched roofs, but the former seems preferred.  Walls are make from both wood planks and woven mats. Buildings in Pleibroum
  Buildings in Pleibroum Dinner being unpackaged after arriving by motorcycle, PleibroumThe tradition house, and our accommodations for the night,  is a long, narrow, thatched-roof structure, build on stilts.  Our amazing dinner was delivered by motorbike to the veranda and spread before us.  It included about ten different dishes. Dinner spread delivered by motorcycle, Pleibroum
  Good food makes for good conversation At the local watering hole, good food makes for good conversation, both for foreign groups (left) and a local groups (right). Good food makes for good conversation

Return to An Khe Continue to Tuy Hoa

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