Lions, Dragons and Buddhas, oh my! As already mentioned, I saw a lot of lion dances. There were more as we left Da Lat and headed towards another mountain. I shall always think I was being ushered in and given a grand farewell. We were on our way to Lak.
Stunning lush greens. The hills are planted with all sorts of crops right up to the roadway. There is such little land and so many people that in some places farmers have figured out which crops work together or can be laid in nearly immediately after harvesting of one. One bush overhanging the barrier was very interesting – open up the fuzzy fruit, break open a seen, orange food colouring.
Farmers live very simple lives, we would call the homes in some areas less than hovels; however, their view on life is that they need to land to grow crops, they do not need things and they do not need to travel. Family is the priority. Itbalso seems that piety can be found in the simplest of shrines – whether Buddhist, Catholic, Caodism, Dao or one of the more ancient beliefs. Along the way, from Saigon to Lak, there are Catholic Churches (this is the primary Christian based faith in Vietnam), Buddhist Trmples and shrines to Buddha, Guanyin, and Mary. I would say Guanyin and Mary were pretty evenly represented – rather fitting as Guanyin is the Goddess of Compassion and Mary, also known as Our Lady of La Vang, having appeared in 1798 as an apparition and holding a child in her arms, expressed love and comfort during a troubled time for persecuted followers. For the Vietnamese whatever they believe their faith is strong. However, I was also told many of the farmers are only believers for as long as they can send children to classes and/or share in neighbours helping neighbours. I guess only they really know.
Of course I should have expected another stop for weasel coffee. This was a family business where they also hedged their bets against the coffee market by making some pretty powerful rice wine – I was not about to try it. Not only because I do not drink – the facility had my western senses wondering at the low standards of cleanliness. I have been trying to keep my culture from interfering with learning, yet every once in a while up it pops. I also felt sad for the weasels locked up in cages and had to remind myself they are fed rather than eaten. I chose to drink regular coffee.
A mid-size Silk factory, compared to some of the home businesses I saw, did not hold anything new for me. Collect the SIL, worms, feed them lots of juicy leaves, allow them to make a caccoon, boil the caccoon to extract the siall, wash, card, weave, dye. The poor silkworm? They make a good snack. I was offered some mixed with lemon grass and peanut oil. I declined. Of course some must be allowed to become moths to lay eggs to make more worms.
I was definitely in need of the Happy Buddha, at the Linh An Pagoda, about 30 km outside Da Lat, and made sure I rubbed his tummy for good luck. There was a lot more to see. The Guanyins in waiting were in various stages of preparing to enlighten those who would come to worship. A hand here, a bottle upturned rather than down, headless – I had found a little factory of enlightenment.
It was the time to once again cover a lot of mileage – I felt a bit like the little engine that could as we twisted and turned up and down yet another mountain. Of course, compared to the Rocky Mountains that straddle BC and Alberta in Canada these are just baby mountains, until an attempt to drive up them on a Motorbike with traffics of all sorts whizzing by at breakneck speed. I believe it was this leg where we saw a group of foreigners on bikes stopped and assisting one of their group who must have just had a minor crash. We did slow down but all seemed relatively fine and it was a fair sized group. Which brought up the topic of foreigners thinking they can go on a Motorbike ‘self tour’ – the thought of locals is these people are nuts. Alright, I know most get home safely, but they do not see the backroads, none of them would ever find their way through the first pass we took, and it is foolhardy to think an international licence gives them licence to drive like locals – they simply do not have the skills nor the ability to read signs. (My rant)
To put me back in a happy space we did visit enough temples with dragons for me to forget idiots; although I was beginning to think one dragon looked like another and finally gave up keeping track. Besides, dragons tend to be uncooperative.
I was happy to make it to the hotel at Lak Lake and even share it with my first indoor lizard on this trip so far who was already in the room. He was very tiny. Also too quick for me to take a photo. I will now mention that there was so much information for me to process I knew there was little chance I would retain most of it. It was at this point I decided to enjoy more and worry less about taking notes. Even my photos seemed less important than moments that would never be captured on film.
Expenses: 135,000VND = 7.50CAD
Abandoned Catholic Church