The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pictures From Da Mi

The photos below come from a trip to Da Me, 4 hours north of Phan Thiet, on the back side of Song Len Mountain.

Locals seem to have 3 main livelihoods in this highlands area. Beekeeping is probably the most unique--in fact its the only place I've seen entire villages raise bees in Vietnam.

Locals also raise goats, much like the rest of Binh Thuan Province.

Here they are drying edible bamboo.

Traditional houses of the Co Ho (also spelled K'ho) minority. This area is the only place in Vietnam where I've seen whole villages of traditional houses--built on stilts with thatched roofs. Even in the central highlands, these houses are very rare now... but in northern Binh Thuan, we have thousands of them. On the opposite side of the mountain, the Gai Rai minority lives in a very different style of house.

And of course, Da Me Lake, otherwise known as Thuan Nam Lake--a major source of both hydro-electricity and drinking water for Phan Thiet and western Binh Thuan Province.

A Few More Nghinh Ong Photos

Above is the Kylin, a mythical dragon-like creature which makes up the grande finale of the Nghinh Ong Parade.

One of the dragons enters a temple to symbolically gobble up the incense and food offerings left on the alter. A very vivid demonstration of the religious practices here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nghinh Ong Festival Stilt Walkers

Below are stilt walkers from the Nghinh Ong Festival on August 21 in Phan Thiet.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vietnam Must Do More to Protect Sea Turtles

I'm happy to report that "Shop Vu Ha" in the Eden Mall on 106 Nguyen Hue in downtown Saigon is scheduled to close next week. This can be attributed to the many tourists who chose to complain about all the dead lacquered sea turtles rather than actually buy anything in the shop. What's an atrocity however, is that we had to wait 6 months for the shop to die a natural death--rather than have the many government and police officials who visit the mall to actually do anything about it themselves. Pictured below is a collage of Vietnam's fascination with dead sea turtles.

Dead Sea Turtles for sale in Saigon

Dead Sea Turtles for sale in Nha Trang

Dead Sea Turtles for Sale in Ha Noi

Dead Sea Turtles for sale in Vung Tau

Da Lat Sun Bear Claws - Tragedy in the Central Highlands

Spent a lovely few weeks in Da Lat but was thoroughly disturbed by all the sun bear claws for sale in the market. The police walk by them all day long, but they'd rather harass the minority women selling snacks than do anything about the endangered species trade. Pictured are just a few of the many collections for sale.

Incidentally, the big yellow claw in the top photo is supposedly a tiger claw. These are much less common, as you would expect. These claws are relatively expensive--they can be 1,000,000VND or more for a bear claw--several million for a tiger claw. The teeth, which are usually fake, are much cheaper. I believe the claws come from bears milked for their bile. Its likely their claws--and sometimes their toes, are cut off in order to make milking their bile easier.