Lak Lake to Buon Ma Thuot

Buon Ma Thuot Travel Blog

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The most touristy minority village we have seen yet was the Mnong village on the shore of Lak Lake we visited this morning. It was complete with traditional crafts demonstrations, elephant and boat rides, and “homestays” in a traditional Mnong-style longhouse. However, despite being touristy, it seemed very authentic. I am of the controversial opinion that it is, in fact, GOOD, for people to adopt modern practices and incorporate that which is convenient and practical from other cultures. It does not offend me to see a Mnong longhouse built on a concrete platform with painted wooden walls, as opposed to the traditional wood and bamboo designs. I think it is quite tasteful, and quite practical. If you can afford air-conditioning, by all means, use the goddamned air-conditioning.

The Mnong are still very, very much their own culture, at least from the tiny little glimpse we got of their lifestyle today. Domesticated “wild boars” run around the village. The vast majority of the longhouses are made in the traditional manner, with brilliantly woven bamboo. Foot-pedaled Mnong canoes ply Lak Lake. It's a fascinating place, to be sure.

However, all of today was pretty awesome. We went from Lak Lake north to the area around Buon Ma Thuot, one of the larger towns in the Highlands. Our main stop today was a park southwest of the city, which contained lots of jungle and some friggin' awesome waterfalls. I saw two snakes. One of them was a glorious green creature, that I have roughly identified as a Common Mock Viper – though I suspect that the species called the “common mock viper” is actually several different species, and this one might better be called the “Vietnamese Mock Viper”, or, better yet, the “Johnny's Mock Viper”. Regardless, it was gorgeous, and scared the heck out of our guide.

The second snake was sited when one of us accidentally stepped upon it and it proceeded to very convincingly play dead. It was a generic little garter/grass snake sort. A colubrid. Very cute, and when we figured out it was still alive, we had a lot of fun photographing it. Apparently it's very good luck to see a snake in the wild, and I saw two! So, my guides think I'm gonna be very lucky.

I dunno about that, though. Just a few minutes after finding the second snake, we got caught in the rain. Note that by “rain” I mean, torrential, insane, piss-of-heaven southeast asian monsoon rain. Drench-you-to-the-fucking-bone-in-2-seconds rain. Without umbrellas or raincoats. Fortunately it was warm, and there was beer back at the restaurant by the parking lot. Beer – that magical drink that cools you off in the heat and warms you up when you are completely and totally soaked to the bone.

More in terms of bad luck – I seem to have giardia, or some other sort of parasitic goodness. It woke me up at about 3-4 last night and kept me woke up. Ugh.

Oh well. All shall be good in the end.

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Buon Ma Thuot
photo by: alanmica