Saturday 3rd of December 2016:
I woke up to the sound of the ladies discussing things. The ladies were getting ready, I went to make my ablution and I prayed Fajr. It was still so very dark outside and the rural cold was slightly kissing our skin. I could hear no car passing; just pure silence.
I had no idea how the place looked nor felt like as I only arrived yesterday just before midnight.
I got ready for 7am as the breakfast time started at that time. I walked out of the dormitory to the balcony and what I saw took my breath away. My eyes were never ready for what was in front of me. The early morning fog gently rested over the hills on this magnificent landscape and the air never felt so pure.
I went down the stairs and made my way to the restaurant for breakfast (the walk took me approximately three minutes). Oddly, I was the first one there. I asked the chef what was on the menu but he couldn’t speak English. I tried to ask if they had fish but I gathered that they only did chicken for lunch and dinner.
I had my breakfast which consisted of cabbage, steam rice rolls (called Banh Cuon) and bread and eggs (it was delicious especially the Banh Cuon which really opened my mind to new flavours and some new culinary discoveries). It was the best breakfast in a while since I arrived in Vietnam, minimalistic but great in flavours. I finished just in time before the place became crowded, I left the area and embarked on an expedition on my own in the tea plantation. It was just out of this world and I couldn’t get over the peacefulness of this place. I had read the reviews but nothing could match the description of what was before me.
These were the little container flats with full view over the plantation. Taken from the balcony of the restaurant through the window.
I went far into the tea plantation and walked up the hills until I reached the top but the climb became difficult and I could notice some of the wildlife on the hills. I arrived on a plateau and saw some sugar canes everywhere.
As I reached the top I heard the vegetation move (see the picture above) so I decided to walk back just in case I would come face to face with a predator but also because I was on my own I didn’t want to play brave.
I managed to reach the main tea plantation after an accelerated returned walk. I passed a lady picking up tea leaves in her bag. That was exactly my dream to see someone do this, the original way.
Someone had left their Non La in this little open bamboo shed. I saw a few Asian giant hornets. I walked back the other way so I wouldn’t get in contact with any as they are notorious for inflicting excruciating pain.
I became tired and I realised that I forgot to return my friends messages so I walked back to the dormitory to get some Wi-Fi, to answer my friend Mike from Hong Kong and Takugo from Japan.
The receptionist came and said that my room (that I initially booked for the night before) was now ready. I got so excited and grabbed all my stuff and followed her into the complex. I arrived into the room and checked in.
I had to speak to the receptionist via google translate for the complex questions. It was quite funny.
I checked in and had a look around in my new found room. I decided it was time to sleep for a while to regain energy until Dhuhr. After praying and preparing my cameras with the right equipment I decided to go out again. The receptionist wanted me to book a taxi and was really pushing for it. I refused as it was way too expensive. She showed me the map and I saw that it was near where I was picked up yesterday which means it should have cost me around 60 000 VD but she said it was 250 000 VD.
Ì politely denied but was also saddened by the rip-off-attempt, I made my way by myself out of the complex and onto the street. I ended up going for a 10 km walk on the main road (no towns around) just houses and small villages.
It was insanely rural and the smell of the livestock and cows was quite dominant. I had only my XA with me and it felt so great walking with so little things on me.
It was rather strange to walk on the main road as everyone was either looking/staring at me or waving at me which was also adorable. They must have thought: “Why is a there a brown dude here?” haha.
Some of the houses were really beautiful and the passing cars were beeping their horns waving at me.
I stopped at this butcher. The meat and vegetables were on display. People came a picked up some meat, paid and left.
After a long walk from the main road, I decided to return to the room as I didn’t want to get lost. I couldn’t eat any of the food they had to offer at the restaurant as I didn’t know how it was prepared, there was no vegetarian meal neither so I bought two packs of crisps on the road and a few cans of 7UP.
Due to tiredness from the intense walk, I relaxed watching this view.
I then took advantage of my relaxation time to write my diary.
After a last walk out, a trip to reception was needed. I asked the receptionist if she could book a taxi for me for 7:30 am.for tomorrow. She kindly did.
I retired back to my room as the sun was setting already. This day went so quickly it was surreal. I looked at the sun set. I decided to not eat anything.
I called my mother to tell her about my adventure. Dad was away with my brother so she was by herself at home. We stayed almost three hours on the phone. Then it was time for me to go to bed because of the intense ride to come the next day.
This post was more photography than words.