Bahnar village, Central Viet Nam ~ “Village of children.”

Ever since we visited the National Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi months ago, we wanted to go and see the majestic tall houses of the indigenous people of the Central Highlands.  There are 54 minorities in Vietnam and many of these are present in the Central Highlands.  Today, we go on our bikes to explore a nearby community where the Bahnar people live.   The Bahnar community in the Central Highlands is 207,000 strong.
Crossing the bridge from Kon Tum, over the river to the road which leads to the Bahnar community.
Young teens on their bikes going home after school.
The community subsists on farming. You can see a wooden hoe held by the woman on the back of the bike, resting on the mans left shoulder.
Ben says hi to some kids playing marbles and discovers some differences in technique from what he knows growing up in Paris.  The French and  Bahnar marbles techniques are compared and the kids are amused to learn there is “another way”.  For those who are marble afficionados, here is the Bahnar “trick”: position the thumb on the ground, and bend back your third finger almost all the way back – the “spring back” action blasts the marble to its target.  Empirical evidence: The Bahnar technique (or maybe it’s just these kids) beats the French marble approach.


A little girl peeks outside the door of her house. Her mother’s woven bamboo backpack for carrying her tools sits against the wall.
The rice fields are being harvested and have just been cut. The green strip is a pathway into the field.
Three women cutting the rice plants using a sickle, with their children playing and helping to move the cut grasses.
Cutting the fields by hand.
Bamboo growing along the other side of the river which flows nearby the village of the Bahnar people. They use the river to catch fish and river shells.
Children taking care of younger children.
Children walk and play on the sides of the streets enjoying the last of the day before the sunsets.

There are children EVERYWHERE! We started calling this village, the “Village of children”. There are six orphanages in Kon Tum and almost all the children in them are Bahnar, often placed there  due to a family’s economic hardship.

Ben gave a group of children some of the milk apples we had been given earlier in the day.
These kids are so sweet and so friendly. Very relaxed and enjoying the gift of fruit.
Peta showing the photographs she took of them on her I Pad. They are clearly delighted and amused.
Ben is a hit with the local girls.
The Bahnar tall house in the center of the village seems to be the perfect place for a game of ball ~ made using a plastic bag full of leaves.
Inside of the Rong tall house.
A prominent drawing of “Uncle Ho.”
As it gets dark, we cross back across the river. Adam on the left on his bike, sharing the road with some cows.
Back in town we stop for a delicious dinner.
Hot pot of fish cooked in a stew with piles of fresh herbs including dill, carrots and banana flower, and of course freshly made noodles. All gets cooked on the table on the burner.
Delicious end to the day!

5 thoughts on “Bahnar village, Central Viet Nam ~ “Village of children.”

  1. Anonymous

    Oh shit, lady Peta, did you ” get lost in the middle of the jungle or have your motorbike breakdown” ? No, me thinks. 🙂
    What a wonderful trip you had. I think the people are a beautiful people. Is that your impression too? I think that the communal buildings with bamboo everywhere are super neat. You captured it well. Wishing you all more fun ahead, Charles

  2. Peta Kaplan and Ben Sandzer-Bell

    Charles mi amigo… we just arrived safe and sound in Dalat, our destination after the 700 km motor scooter ride. Great journey! Gotta rest up now. Definitely in need of little movement 🙂 YES, the people are not only beautiful in looks, and they really are, but we also experienced them as being very friendly and charming. The communal buildings are very awesome constructions and very fun to be in. Thanks! P

  3. Pingback: Slipping comfortably into life in Hoi An, Viet Nam – Empty Nesters on a Green Global Trek

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks for the lovely comments Liesbet! Ben says he misses Viet Nam EVERY day! We just have to get back soon. Viet Nam, and Hoi An in particular is a place that is very close to our hearts. However, this trip on the Ho Chi Minh Trail was an incredible experience and this day that we wrote about here in particular has stayed with me.

      Liesbet, you might be interested to check out the other posts we wrote about this week of exploring Central Viet Nam, I think you will enjoy them.


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