Part 2: Lak Lake to Buon Ma Thuot (160 km)
After that experience we were off on the road again, with constant stops so I could enjoy the view, taking pictures, and just enjoying the ride. On the way to Buon Ma Thuot we stopped at a place called elephant hill (not related at all with the elephant fall the day before). The name was given as the hill in this valley looked like an elephant lying on the ground.
The hill was much smaller than the mountains surrounding the valley – but walking closer to the hill it became clear that it was quite steep. I just walked up when a group of young Vietnamese were doing the same, and taking quite a few selfies. As soon they spotted me I was surrounded, and suddenly lots of cameras were given to the front, and quite a few pictures were taken of me and the group. It was actually very entertaining. After one round of pictures were taken, I walked a few metre up, before smaller groups wanted another pictures, or just some selfies with me. I felt like a rock star with the queries of photos. We all had a god laugh. In addition of the fun with the group, I was also rewarded with some spectacular view from the top. So the hard work getting up there was worth it…
For our pre-lunch coffee break Bao decided to stop at a special place. Well – it wasn’t special because of the coffee, but for the fact that the owner has two big pythons as pets. This meant that I only got a coffee if I carry one of the small snakes. Thankfully the put the baby snake around my neck – it was only 20 kg. The other one was apparently much heavier (and it was just fed). It was a strange sensation carrying such a large animal – especially when it moved its head. The whole time I hoped that it didn’t get hungry….
The ice coffee was even better after that – though being on an hammock helped to calm down as well (I loved the fact that so many cafes in the Central Highlands offered chairs and hammocks…it was like heaven!!!)
We soon arrived in Buon Ma Thuot, and it also meant it was time for having Pho Bo for lunch (and you guessed correctly – it was tasty…). I didn’t see a lot of this big city, one of the highlights in addition of the parks was a big roundabout with a statue and a tank in the middle of it. A bit unusual.
One of the reason we were in town was so Bao was able to show me how two local items are produced – incense candles and rice noodles.
For the first one we stopped in front of a little house in a little side alley. In front of the house were lots little sticks without the incense one. Walking inside the little house I was able to see how the local women used some machines to send the sticks through to add the incense. The pace they worked on was impressive – the “trainees” were in the room next door, and the pace was obviously much slower, but still much faster than what I could do.
We then headed to a few house further down the alley where the incense was made, using some parts of a local sticky tree. Here the produced incense candles were packed, either for Vietnamese or for the Chinese.
Surprisingly in both houses everyone was smiling seeing me walking around, watching them doing the hard work. I guess they wondered why a crazy tourists is coming there to see them.
Slightly outside of the town we headed to a neighbourhood where quite a few rice noodle producers are. Well – I would call them families who produce noodles at home. Driving along the street you could see noodles everywhere, drying in the sun. I already knew how they are produced, but seeing them in such amounts was impressive. There were noodles everywhere, in different shapes – even rice paper with sesame seed. It was impressive to see them work as well in the hot environment (it was so much hooter inside than outside!!!). It is definitely not easy work – and the margins are probably not very high either.
After these two stops we headed back south to get to Cu Jut – a park with a few waterfall and also a longhouse which was our accommodation for the night. Before heading to our accommodation we went to one of the waterfalls with the so-called fairy pool. Seeing the water from the hill above it was easy to understand why it was called that. The water had a beautiful blue colour, and with the rocks in the river and pool it looked very welcoming. However, here we realised a flow to the plan not going first to the long house – Bao had to stay with the bike and bags, so I had to walk down and find my way on my own. Initially I thought it shouldn’t be a problem, but arriving in a dead end next to the falls I couldn’t find the path down. Seeing a sign that you should head down didn’t really stop me, but even after trying different ways I was unable to get to the pool for a swim – and climbing down some of it looked unwise if you are on your own. Instead I could only watch some locals enjoying the cold water (they went down a different way).
So rather then swimming we headed to our accommodation – a traditional long house inside the natural park. As the name says it is a rather long house, and inside several beds were next to each other. Toilets and shower were inside as well, some fans as well two fire places. No private space, but I still liked it. There were a terrace on the back. The other guests were mainly Vietnamese, except of on German girl who was doing an Easy Rider trip as well.
There was a food place outside, and for some reason there was a zoo – a small one. Unfortunately they had three elephants in a small area, the chains (which is normal to prevent them raiding any nearby farms) were far too short. Not a nice sight. Though I must admit it was nice to hear the them from time to time.
To compensate for the missed fairy pool Bao and I headed down to another waterfall next to the longhouse. The current was rather strong, but the swim was very refreshing. A great place to relax after a long day on the bike. Though I must admit I was slightly worried when I saw a local woman attempting to cross the bridge over the river – the bridge didn’t look very stable, and it was actually closed. Thankfully she managed to cross it without falling into the water.
We had dinner at the little restaurant, with a small selection of some dishes. It was not bad food, and it was nice to have a chat with Bao and the other driver. I finished the day sitting on the terrace, enjoying the peaceful surrounding with no noise whatsoever. This place definitely beats staying in town…