In the morning we stopped in a minority village, where Xuan knew a family that allowed us to see their home. The houses were raised off the ground and while basic, they are very sturdy. It was really great to see this and not feel like we were walking through their house uninvited.
Today was going to be the biggest stretch, about 220km north to Pleiku. I knew this would be a challenging ride as it included some of Vietnam’s interesting traffic. But knowing Xuan would stop frequently to take breaks was good. He stopped and would tell us about Vietnam’s war history, which was very interesting to learn about again. He knew so much detail about it and this really reignited an interest in war history in me.
A memorial for Vietnamese soldiers. After that we stopped at a Vietnamese drum “factory”, where a few very talented men were making ceremonial drums by hand. These can fetch a lot of money overseas and apparently they sell them all over the world.
Watching this man was so peaceful. He had such skill and was really a master of his trade.
Of course on the way we faced a ton of traffic challenges, like the one below for example. It is almost more surprising when absolutely nothing is out of the ordinary.
A little later we pulled into a farm, where again, Xuan knew the family. They grow mainly cashews, but have recently diversified their farming.
The grandma was sitting in the hammock and told Xuan, who translated, that she still worked in the field every day. She looked very old, but very healthy and I loved seeing how an entire family pulls together like that to make a living. Most farmers are actually quite well off, however they like to live modest lives.
Because the long journey was tiring, we got to take a short nap after lunch in one of the many hammocks in the restaurant. After the nap, the women wanted Emma to join in on their gambling, but obviously she knew better and avoided gambling away our entire budget!
After lunch we saw the reason why you should avoid Vietnam sleeper buses, especially at night. Sometimes they go to sleep for good. This bus looked like it had literally just crashed and Xuan told us that it happened about 3 weeks ago and most likely because the driver had fallen asleep. So next time we caught one – at night – we were a little on edge.
Later we visited a tiny ‘rice paper factory’ aka someone’s house. The woman was incredibly nice and had such a warm energy. She did not hesitate in suggesting that Emma should take a seat and try to make some rice paper herself. It looked so easy and the woman really had a method. Emma didn’t do a bad job though!
We got to taste Emma’s creation, which was a bit thick, however the batter was very tasty.
Later, just for fun, Xuan stopped and said that we should walk into a market. He said that people here would hardly have seen any foreigners and that they would be very intrigued by our presence. It was indeed so. It felt like another world here and we were glad to have experienced it. No one tried to sell us a thing. We were of course scrutinised by every pair of eyes we met. Emma couldn’t even high five a few kids as they were just too afraid to come close to us.
We got to see rubber tree sap from a rubber tree up close. Otherwise, this was more of a “bum relaxing” and peeing break. I felt that today I really solidified my motorbike skills and I now trust myself to ride in various conditions. Having this confidence (with absolutely no reduction in respect), makes me feel more relaxed on a motorbike. I took Pleiku traffic like a local.