Located southwards in Vietnam plateaus including Kon Tum, Kon Plong, Kon Ha Nung, Playku, Mdrak, Dak Lak, Mo Nong, Lam and Di Linh make giant Central Highlands. With its unique natural and pristine scenery, Central Highlands remind us of red soil, dense forests, immense coffee, rubber, pepper and mulberry fields and so forth.
The Highlands located at 500m above sea level and surrounded by giant Truong Son Mountains on the east bring us quite cool atmosphere all year round. It is usually wet out between May and October and the dry season lasts from November to April. Many ethnic minorities including Jrai, Bahnar, Ede, M’nong … are living in Central Highlands. The most beautiful time in Central Highlands is March with its fresh and cool climate and soft sunlight and cold breezes at night. The rubber forests are putting on its new shirt while white coffee blossoms are warming up the days… March is also time for the festive season in Central Highlands. “March is coming. Bees fly from a flower to another to collect honey. Elephants go for a bath. I clear the trees for cultivation and you go for a hunt …”. It is not March as we usually know according to solar or lunar calendar, but it is March according to the agricultural calendar of the Bahnar. The festive season is coming. Visitors to Central Highlands at this time enjoy exotic and spectacular natural scenery ad can participate in delightful festivals here such as coffee festival, gongs festival…
My visit to Central Highlands in March organized by www.evivatour.com brought me wonderful experience of a lifetime. The T- junction named ‘Bo Y’ (Ngoc Hoi, Kon Tum) located amidst Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia is a popular place of interest. People living in Central Highlands started to work very early in the morning. Adults climbed up to terraced fields for cultivation meanwhile children went to school or playing with friends… Modern life somewhat influence on the life of people living in the Highlands but the lifestyle, the glowing eyes and smiles still remain. The ethnic minorities in Central Highlands carried out their activities following the agriculture calendar of the Bahnar. The Highlands are still dominated by traditional pre – modern agricultural tools and techniques.
Polang tree was still flowering right at the festive season. Villagers are as busy as a bee while preparing for festivals in March. The sound of the gongs echoed the high mountains, the torches flickers in the late festive night, a glass of wine slightly warms up your body in the chilly night … And according to the Bahnar’s agricultural calendar, traditional customs and traditions have been written into the minds of the local people with 10 months a year. “Ning Nong” is time for festivals, entertainment and recreation and after “hot-ning” it’s time for cultivation.
According to traditions, people started to cut down trees for cultivation in every January and February. It is practice to transplant rice seedlings in March and April together with a ritual ceremony so – called ‘jomul’. In May, people clear the grass. At this time a ritual ceremony so – called ‘somah ba’ was held to praise for fine rice. In June, families held a ritual ceremony so – called ‘ming mir’ to praise for a main crop. In July, people make hedgerows, scarecrow or sitting in a watch – tower to watch over the paddy fields. In August the field was lush with ripening rice and September is time for harvest together with a ritual ceremony so-called ‘somah to hao ba’ to store rice in barns. People celebrates a ritual ceremony so – called ‘teng amang’ or ‘chruh’ for the closing cultivation season. Since October is over, people living in Central Highlands began the most awaited season of the year so – called “ning nong”.