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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hidden Binh Thuan: The Jarai and the Forest

The Jarai (Gia Rai, J'rai, Rai) minority is a matriarchal people closely related to the Cham. Most inhabit the central highlands and partly make up the group of minorities collectively called the Montagnards by the French. The Jarai in the highlands are largely Christian and sided with the Americans during the war, thus like many Vietnamese minorities, they endured a great deal of opression after the war. The Jarai are one of the five most prominent minorities in Binh Thuan Province, after the Kinh (ethnic Vietnamese), Cham, Hoa (ethnic Chinese), and K'ho (Koho). THe Jarai in Binh Thuan Province reside in the mountain foothills north of Phan Thiet.

The Jarai grow mostly corn and rice, unlike their neighbors who grow dragon fruit.

Giant "forest crabs" live in the rivers at the base of the mountains.

A Jarai family prepares lunch after a hard morning working in the forest.

Jarai children and a semi-traditional house.

Jarai harvest timber in the forests. Logging is probably illegal, but their traditional methods seem to cause little harm compared to the wholesale forest destruction caused by their Kinh neighbors when they log with large machinery.

Hiking in the bamboo forest.

Butterflies on my socks

Mountain forests

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