It’s easy to get lost in the scenery of Vietnam. We are driving south from Qui Non where we will see both countryside and seaside towns.
Looking out from the bus we are deluged by sights of people working in huge rice fields, women riding along the road with large bales of rice, hay structures that are shaped like pears and which serve the dual purpose of providing hay for the animals and being an incubator for growing mushrooms; and of course, there are many, many water buffalo. Apparently these animals are very smart and can find their way home from the rice fields on their own. We saw a couple of them in the middle of the road during the day – perhaps they were heading to work or home for lunch.
Our first stop is the Tuy Hoa airport, where the 4th Division, also known as the Ivy Division, was first deployed. As with a lot of the landing zones, airports and camp sites, it was dramatically changed from what was here 40 years ago. We found some airplane hangars and a lot of open space.
Still on the hill side, I am intrigued by a tall tower that sits on tops of a hill. It is a Cham tower. Apparently there are a number of them in this area. At first I thought it was some sort of Buddhist temple, as we’ve seen countless Buddhist pagodas on the road. But, the rather ancient structures were actually built by the Cham people and they lean more toward the Hindu faith. This area was once the Cham capital of Cha Ban.
We drove up the hill toward the tower and our guide led us on a short hike up the mountain to get a closer look at the lowest of the Banh It Cham Towers. This tower was built around the end of the 11th century or beginning of the 12th. Aside from the restoration portion of it, the structure was constructed without mortar. Amazing, considering it was been stating for nearly 10 centuries.
We continue on to Nha Trang along the shoreline. Our guide tells us about the fishing villages, there are numerous shrimp and lobster fisherman in the area, as well as lobster and shrimp farms. It seems to be a semi-profitable occupation, although the poverty of this whole area is glaring.
We stopped at a fishing village where the women build basket bowls, small fishing boats, used by lobster and shrimp fisherman.
These bowls are made of bamboo and are covered with a lacquer of sorts made of cow dung. We took this opportunity to look around this small community. Many of the children were curious about their new visitors and stood around as we all attempted to community with each other.
Back on the bus – it was a long bus ride today – we continue south to Na Trang our final destination for the night.