Beneath the highland sun

03/01/2018 15:14

From Buon Ma Thuot, visitors can venture deeper into the Central Highlands - a wild region full of surprises

On your journeys to explore the boundless beauty of our country, don't miss Dak Lak and its provincial capital, Buon Ma Thuot. Here, you will find a bustling place surrounded by natural beauty, where swathes of yellow marigold trees shine in the wintry sun. While modern life has brought many changes, the Central Highlands still retain their magnificent unspoiled charm where hundreds of elephants used to carry timber through the forests, and the locals still recount the timeless epics about Dam San who rode the wind up to Heaven to win the hand of the Sun God’s daughter in marriage. From Buon Ma Thuot visitors can venture deeper into more remote areas of the Highlands, encountering strange and beautiful vistas.


Visitors to Buon Ma Thuot should explore the area's waterfalls. Dray Nur Waterfall, popularly known as the Virgin waterfall, is a raging column of water that crashes against the cliffs and throws up millions of droplets, its roar echoing far and wide. Known as the foremost waterfall of the Central Highlands, this waterfall lies just 25km from Buon Ma Thuot, drawing scores of visitors. Gia Long Waterfall and Dray Sap Waterfall are also popular, enticing hundreds of visitors a day.


 Travelers with an interest in history and culture should not miss the Dak Lak Museum of Ethnic Cultures, which displays thousands of artifacts from the province's different ethnic groups from prehistoric to modern times. Interesting items include Stone Age artifacts, Mnong elephant hunting tools, valuable Ehde jars worth several elephants, and unique J’rai clothing. All of the displays shed light on the rich spiritual lives of the local Highland communities.


  While ancient stilt houses are few and far between in the Central Highlands, one can see old fashioned Ehde residences in Ako Thon Hamlet, on the outskirts of Buon Ma Thuot City. These extended houses have wooden staircases, a blazing hearth in the center of the house, and kpan benches that stretch as long as tree trunks. In this hamlet, chieftains still blow echoing olifants and play bronze cymbals during festivals. The locals still diligently brew jars of sweet pipe liquor.


In contrast to Ako Thon Hamlet is Don Hamlet, home to hardy gru riders and their domesticated elephants, which have gone down in history. Here, visitors can see the towering wooden house of the King of Elephants Ama Kong, who recently departed this world after an adventurous life, having captured over 100 wild elephants. Other must-visits in Buon Don include the suspension bridge across the Serepok River, the tomb of the Elephant King Khunjunob and, most exciting of all, an elephant ride.


In the past, the natives of Don village specialized in hunting, capturing and taming wild elephants. A young man who could ride domesticated elephants on his own, lasso a dozen wild elephants, and tame these beasts earned the title of "gru". As life changed and the wild elephant population plummeted, these old pursuits faded into obscurity. However, domesticated elephants may still be seen in Don Hamlet, where they are used to carry tourists. Seated precariously on a bench and swaying with every footstep, visitors may be startled when their elephant wades into the river.


No journey to Don Village is complete without enjoying the sweet taste of leaf-brewed pipe liquor and buying some locally-made handicrafts such as intricate rattan baskets, smoking pipes and rustic wooden figurines. These items remind us of the sunny and windy Highlands long after returning home.
  Back in Buon Ma Thuot, few can ignore the coffee on offer in Vietnam's coffee capital. There are dozens of local brands, each a source of pride. Bright sun, cool breezes and outdoor adventures await in Vietnam's beautiful Central Highlands.

Story: Long Tuyen

Photos: Thai A, Ba Ngoc, Tran Bao Hoa

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