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Easy Ride...

July 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Vietnamese rice farmer

*** All images taken with Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4 lens ***

I’ve had a blog hiatus for a few days so it’s time to catch up. From Dalat I found a new way to bounce across the potholed roads…on the back of a motorbike. Easy Riders are a group of riders for hire who will take you on tours throughout Vietnam. Mind you, in true Vietnamese fashion there are several operators using the same name (trademarks and copyright don’t have much enforcement here, which is why there’s roaring knock-off trade). Some have been adopted for weeks at a time to traverse the country from top to bottom, and I have to say it’s a nice way to travel in terms of pace and flexibility. The downside is it’s a little tough on the backside if you’re not used to the seat. After two days I was happy to wave good-bye to my rider ‘Windy’ and enjoy standing for a while!

My route was from Dalat to Lak Lake in the Central Highlands for an overnight stop, then onto Nha Trang on the coast. I travelled through a myriad of rural and coastal villages and townships; touched on a the Buddhism culture; ate a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes but don’t have a clue what they were called…it was all good though; stopped in on the poorest people I’ve seen yet in Vietnam (M’Nong tribe - children with torn dirty clothes and some with pot bellies indicating poor nutrition); watched farmers tend to their crops; had a quick peek at a wedding (it was a little drunken at the end of the day!); saw people travelling on all modes of transport from walking to noisy xe lams (three wheeled vehicles pulling trailors); and identified a wide array of produce: rice (of course!), coffee, cocao, maize, pepper, salad vegetables, mushrooms grown on strings, bananas, mangoes, fish farms, shrimp farms, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, buffalo etc etc etc. Everything looked so fresh and abundant…there’s no way anyone in Vietnam should be going hungry with so much food being produced every day. On a side note, if you're investing in Vietnamese coffee you may be interested to know that pepper and cocao are getting higher yields and prices, so the farmers are quickly transitioning.

It’s small plot farming everywhere – no large-scale production from what I could see. And a lot of the work is still done by hand and with the use of ancient machinery. I’d love to say I have pictures of all of this, but I wasn’t able to stop every two minutes to record everything. A dedicated photography tour would be a nicer way to explore and capture the essence of this lifestyle…hopefully my Dalat friends will arrange something in the near future (I know you’re reading this!).

It’s a bit monsoonal still at the moment, and we had one soggy moment when all the wet weather gear had to come out, but it was so nice to be riding along with the smell of fresh rain and jungle mingled together while the raindrops pelted down on my helmet. I love tropical weather. I grew up in the tropics so perhaps it’s in my blood.

The accommodation in Lak Lake was pretty basic but functional. If you’re someone who only likes fresh laundered sheets, fluffy towels and a steaming hot shower then you may not like this type of travel. You definitely need to like a rough edge here and there!

I found another old lady carrying firewood…I’m starting a theme! She was also barefoot and had a bent back, but unlike the other lady, she was all alone. Her husband died many years ago and they didn’t have any children, and she lives by herself with her animals. Very poor…and very sad. I gave her a small amount of money in gratitude for her allowing me to take some photos, but it felt a little insignificant in terms of what she really needs. I always suffer from internal conflict in these situations.

Vietnamese village lady carrying firewood.

This slideshow of images provides a quick insight into life in this area. Please click on the image to start the show, or swipe the images to progress. As always, it's best to view these on a larger screen than your phone.

My next post will be about Nha Trang, where the menus are in Vietnamese, English and Russian!


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