December 2000: Dalat, Vietnam
It was our day off. Instead of shovelling sand, lifting stone blocks and sandpapering chairs at the village school, we went hiking in Langbiang Mountain.
At over 2,000 metres above sea level, the fabled Langbiang Mountain is often referred to as the “roof of Dalat”. There’s also a love story behind the name of the mountain.
What a beautiful day it was… walking amidst tall pine trees, taking in deep breaths of the fresh mountain air, clear blue skies…
When we finally arrived at one of the peaks, a simple lunch of giò lụa or chả lụa (i.e. Vietnamese ham / sausage), baguette, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes was laid out on a picnic mat. As I bit into my sandwich, I felt a deep sense of joy, contentment and calm. Looking out to the endless mountain horizon, I thought to myself that this was one of the best meals I have ever had. And I felt incredibly lucky and privileged to be there.
Looking around me, I knew I wasn’t the only one to think so : )
After washing down our sandwiches with some hot tea, we continued on our way before ending at a big campfire several hours later. I was going to say that I don’t remember much from that night but after thinking for a few minutes, the memories came crawling back…
After the sun had set, it became rather chilly and I stayed close to the fire to keep warm, though sometimes it got a little too hot. We held hands and laughed a lot as we danced amongst bamboo poles, which also kept me quite warm.
It was a cloudy night and the fire was our main source of light, by which we would ‘say’ with our hands what a great time we were having.