Greetings from the middle of nowhere (although Wi-Fi still exists)! Cédric and I have found ourselves at Yok Don National Park, in the Dak Lak province of Vietnam. This is the farthest and most remote place we’ll get in Vietnam before making our return to Ho Chi Minh City.
Our trip out here started with a very bumpy and swervey bus from Dalat to Lak Lak. During the ride, a fair amount of our bus companions got sick, but were provided with ample amounts of plastic bags from the bus driver. These bags were then tossed out the window without a second thought. Actually pretty much like all other trashes. Needless to say, it was a very interesting trip for Cédric and me.
After being dropped off in Lak Lak, we spent the next few hours wandering around the town trying to find the village that the guidebooks mention for staying overnight. We had good fortune and were flagged down in the middle of the street by a girl who’s family runs a longhouse hotel in the village. Jun village was very quaint, just on the outskirts of the town, and provided some wonderful views of the lake and mountains.
The next day, Cédric and I caught a bus to Buon Ma Thuot, to explore the coffee city of Vietnam. Coffee plantations encircle the city (basically, they dominate the highlands of the province) and there seems to be a coffee shop about two doors away from the next one. We first visited a village-turned-resort/restaurant, Ako Dhong, and wandered through some traditional wooden longhouse buildings (although they were too shiny to be authentic). Afterwards, we scootered over to the Dray Nur waterfalls outside of town. Our day was rounded out by buying about 3kg (6lbs) of coffee beans. (When in Rome).
Today, we found our guidebooks to again be useless in getting out to Yok Don National Park and trusted travelers’ forums on the internet to guide our way. As mentioned, we stood outside of the co-op supermarket and waited for the pink and green bus to take us to Buon Don- however, the bus driver forgot that the two foreigners on the bus wanted to get off at the only major attraction along the route. So we ended up backtracking 5km. After we got to the park, we dropped off our bags, had the most expensive and biggest lunch on our trip so far (food, lodging, and tours are not the cheapest here), and went off to trek through the National forest. Yok Don is part of the only forest in the world that loses its leaves in the dry season (now) and is very rich in biodiversity. We took a two hour hike with a guide during hottest part of the day with relatively no shade (all the leaves were gone). However, we ended at an exceptional waterfall and proceeded to spend the next hour cooling off in the pools.
Next stop on our list is Ho Chi Minh City before we fly out in a few days.