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Buon Me Thuot - Dac Lak

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Buon Ma Thuot

Area: 13,085 sq. km.

Population: 1,710,800 habitants (2005)

Capital: Buon Ma Thuot City.

Districts: Ea H'leo, Ea Sup, Krong Nang, Krong Buk, Buon Don, Cu M'gar, Ea Kar, M' Drac, Krong Pac, Krong Ana , Krong Bong, Lak.

Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), E De, M'Nong, Nung, Tay.

 Dak Lak Province is in the Central Highland of Vietnam in 400 - 800m high above sea. It shares the border with Gia Lai in the north and east-north, Lam Dong Province in the south, Cambodia and Dak Nong Province in the west, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces in the east.

Dak Lak has a large natural area. 35 percent of the province's area is 1,000 - 1,200m high mountain area while the Buon Ma Thuot Highland occupies 53.5%. The rich, flat red soil is a great advantage to develop long day - industrial trees like coffee, rubber, tea, and pepper..., to raise cattle and to grow forest. Alluvia soil is rice paddy and natural grass field. Dak Lak's forest has abundant wood reserve and various rare animal species as elephant, lion, tiger, beer... There are many beautiful rivers, high waterfalls and lakes.

Climate: The Dak Lak's climate is temperate with the annual average temperature is 24?C. There is a difference of only 5?C between the hottest month and the coldest one. The dry season lasts from November to April next year. It is quite cold, windy, and dry. The rainy season lasts from May to October with high rainy amount. There are beautiful and famous waterfalls such as: Thuy Tien, Trinh Nu, Krong Kmar, Bay Nhanh, among many big lakes such as Lak, Dak Mil. Coming to there, tourists are able to get in the primitive forests of the Chu Yang Sin, Yok Don National parks, visit Buon Don that is a well-known local of hunting and taming wild elephants, or make tour to Dak Lak's historical vestiges like Bao Dai Palace, Yang Prong Tower, Buon Ma Thuot Prison, Dak Tua Cave. Buon Me Thuot is famous for Buon Don, located northwest of Buon Ma Thuot in Dak Lak province, close to the Cambodian border, approximately 42 km from Buon Ma Thuot. Buon Don is well known as the native land of elephant hunters and trainers throughout Southeast Asia. Buon Don has been famous for its Kru, powerful elephant tribe leaders, for a long time, and is well known in India and France for its elephant. Y Pui, a 102-year-old man (1883-1985) who tamed over 450 elephants, spent part of his life as Bao Dai King's mahout. Elephant training and hunting has been passed down through generations. It takes 67 months to domesticate a wild elephant. In the last few years, tourists have been more eager to visit Buon Don, the elephants's home in Dak Lak. Their main interest being to admire the animals and to understand their delicate situation. Surveys are now being conducted throughout the country to evaluate the elephant situation and to better organize protection projects.

A narration of a traveler after the trip to Buon Ma Thuot

This is a must do in Vietnam. We had heard through the grapevine about doing motorbike tours through the central highlands of Vietnam and how cool it was. Well it was one of our overall highlights of our travels so far - after four and half months now! We did loads in two days, which you can see from the photos. Will not go into too much details, but just to say, that by far the big highlight was just having the freedom to be on the bikes and take in the scenery at leisure. Two very experienced bikers Tin and Thung which is essential on these roads, and Vietnamese road rules! Having names like that as well kind of gave it a harmonious feel to it, being in a land that adheres to taoist principles! And we did not even get wet. No rain at all - quite amazing and very lucky! We were off pretty quickly on first morning from Da Lat, and soon felt like something out of one of those famous motorcycle road movies as we cruised through the higher regions of Vietnam - you name it, it went through our heads with a big smile on our faces - Easy rider, Born to be Wild, Ewan McGregor's Long Way Round and of course Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries. Shame we only had two days. Nancy certainly looked more the part on her new wish, but sixties looking bike! The bikes were only 125 and 150cc but in Vietnam, even this size bike raises eyebrows where ever you go, because most people have 50 or 90cc max! And we certainly needed the extra horsepower with all our luggage on as well! It also meant we got to cruise past most other traffic on the road. Two other major things, our guides were fantastic. Excellent English and really good company for the two days, including our night out by the lake watching the football. I lost my bet to Tin that Costa Rica would at least draw against Ecuador. As I have said before, they know their football! And as well as great scenery, this is the first place in Vietnam where we actually felt like we had got away from it all. At times, there was no one around at all, apart from the odd vehicle taking people to and from the fields. So what did we get to visit; here is the list. The trip was very very educational for learning about Vietnamese rural life:  Coffee farm,  mulberry farm, and silk worm growing (they were very fat!)  mushroom farm, bamboo crafts for silk farms. We met whole families who work in this one village where the average income is $50 US per month, and the kids stay home from school to help as well. Puts things into perspective for us westerners! Silk factory, where the processing takes place Brick making factory near dray sap falls. Lak Lake, where the M'Nong people live. One of the Vietnamese highland minority groups. This is where we had a fantastic sunset, and got to watch the football on one of the few TVs in the village (see photos). Next morning, we took a ride across lake to another M'Nong village which is less exposed to tourism, and these people were incredibly poor. It was difficult to see people living in these conditions, and we were not sure if Tin was doing the right thing giving balloons and stickers to the kids, but they were very well received, and it did give us a unique chance to interact with them. We also passed by many places affected by the American war, mostly the affects of agent orange. It is very disturbing to see places where the forest is still yet to grow back on the mountains, and only coarse grass grows in its place. And people are so poor that they have to try to make use of it, and the consequences can be severe as we saw in the Museum in Saigon. Our guides informed us of some of the affects on children born even today, from their parents being exposed to agent orange. Last, but not least, we visited two waterfalls. The first was Elephant falls and the pagoda alongside. Second was Draysap, which was very impressive indeed. It was actually several waterfalls when we visited, running in a 100m wide horseshoe shape. But when the heaviest rains hit, all the falls start to connect. The guys dropped us in the major town of the Highlands, called Buon Ma Thuot after another fine Vietnamese meal, and after some sad farewells, we were off on the bus over the Phoenix mountain pass to Nha Trang, and they were on the bikes back to Da Lat. Very fond memories.

  • Model: sight seeing place introduction