The GoGlobal Blog

Final days in Vietnam

Final days in Vietnam

This weekend I was in a different world, perhaps one you could have seen on the Discovery Channel.  Our last project in Environmental Science was a presentation on the “Cloudy Forest,” commonly know as the Ta Kou Nature Reserve, located in Binh Thuan province about 120km outside of Ho Chi Minh.  Our ‘team,’ made up of 4 girls, one professor, and two quirky park rangers, spent two days and two nights hiking, laughing, searching for langurs and night animals, as well as identifying the park’s dense biodiversity of flora and other fauna.

To many people in the surrounding provinces, Ta Kou is nothing more than a tourist destination.  In 2003 the Binh Thuan tourism company installed a cable car that has since carried 200,000 people annually up the mountain to view the longest laying Buddha in Southeast Asia.  In reality, the park is much more.  It is a gem of biodiversity that has been greatly affected by the overexploitation of its forest resources.  Many trees have been unsustainably logged or tapped for their valuable resin, plants have been rapidly rooted for their medicinal purposes, and animals have been poached for food and medicinal purposes as well.  Despite its small area of 11,000 hectares, the park is home to over 450 animal species (94 being birds) and over 1,000 vascular plant species.  Many species in the park are still undiscovered. Lack of education surrounding the park as well as funding for preservation put the park at great risk.  Many plants and animals are currently endangered.

Although there are many environmental concerns to think about at Ta Kou, I still felt a high being a top the mountain.  On the first full day, our team woke up at 6 am to climb boulders and sit beneath a fig tree, viewing langurs through binoculars from afar. We were lucky enough to catch a few feeding, playing, and jumping from tree to tree.  We also hiked two peaks and shared great meals together.  The land below was covered with dragon fruit farms.  At night the fields were lit with light bulbs to increase plant growth.  The twinkling lights were captivating, and I could have sat outside for hours. I could not have imagined a better weekend in Vietnam.  I saw many things I never pictured would be viewed in my lifetime.  My favorite find was triangular spider with a yellow back!

With only two weeks left in Vietnam, I cannot help but feel sentimental.  Every other day I look at old photos and realize how much fun I have had.  I only hope I was able to convey some of the excitement of my travels through this blog.  I realize now that Vietnam was a good choice for my study abroad experience.  Here you have everything from political controversy to environmental debates to globalization to traditional Vietnamese customs to rich landscapes.   I know now that I would do it all again if I could.

This may very well be my last post from the guesthouse in Ho Chi Minh City.  I will spend my last week visiting Oanh’s hometown, celebrating my 21st birthday, writing final papers, buying last minute Christmas gifts, and saying my farewells to many new friends (and I probably will eat all of my favorite dishes and baked goods too).  Then on December 10th I will travel to Bangkok with Kate and Ariana.  We will spend five days in Thailand.   Expect a long post with copious photos from that trip!  I can hardly wait to eat curry for five days, my favorite!

**Due to slow internet connection I couldn’t upload photos from the Mountain–> check them out on the Flikr stream in the bottom right corner of the page)

Xin Chao for now,

Stephanie

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