Highlands Motorcycle Tour - Burning monks and rice
Trip Start Feb 27, 2012
80Trip End May 19, 2012
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To top it off at dawn the French tourists on the bus thought it would be great idea to start blasting their crappy music and start singing along – I mean come on! Would you appreciate me playing ‘Lamb of God’ at 160dB on your bus? Grrrrr!
The one upside to being woken so early was that we were treated to beautiful sunrise over the beach as we arrive in the city
Our first stop was a beautiful Champa temple. The ironically named Champ Kingdom used to extend across Central and Southern Vietnam. They were conquered by the Vietnamese from the north many years ago and are now only make up a small part of the population. The temples they left behind are awesome and still going strong. After Cambodia I am sure that we will be feeling a bit of “temple fatigue” but right now it's still allvery interesting.Next we visited a Buddhist shrine dedicated to monks who set themselves on fire in protest of the South Vietnamese government which had banned Buddhism and made Catholicism the exclusive religion of South Vietnam. The first monk who performed the act was captured by western photographers and immortalised by a famous photo (think the Rage Against the Machine album cover). The whole time he burned to death the monk didn’t scream of even utter a sound, he just sat in a static pose and meditated. Then, we left Nha Trang and headed out to the countryside.
Next we visited a rice paddy and were shown how farmers grow and harvest their crops (many still do all the work by hand and ox drawn cart)
Off we rode next deep up into the highlands to a town called Da Lat. The scenery is beatifull, with lots of lush jungle and coffee plantations. It’s much colder than down by the coast though! Coming into Da Lat we visted the flower farms. Vietnamese are mostly Buddhists and need lots (I mean a lot!) of flowers for all their prayers - the green houses extended as far as the eye could see.
The last attraction of the day was the ‘Crazy House’, built by the eccentric daughter of some important politician. She had obviously done a lot of acid while in collge because the house is an absolute maze. We got so lost!
By night we explored Dalat town. Not a tourist in sight, the locals are so friendly and amazed to see us. It is very different to the big cities like Hanoi where everyone seems to treat you like a walking ATM and is out to rip you off. I managed to navigate the markets reasonably well now that I know a bit of Vietnamese (the only English that people know here is “Hi, where you from?”)
What a day! You can fit so much in when you have a local guide to take you around.