14 days without internet in the mountainous district of Kon Tum

KON TUM – THE night before leaving Dak Glei, Mr. Vu told us, in the future, we must really appreciate what we have because there are so many times in life.

After my college friend Trang and I participated in a social activity for teenagers in the Central Highlands in Gia Lai, in the summer of 2017, Trang suggested signing up for a summer school program for children in Dak commune. Mon, Dak Glei district, Kon Tum province . You said the course has been going for 2 weeks, 2 weeks left to finish and is in need of more teachers.

At the beginning of summer, I went home to visit, my university didn’t start admission until early September, there is still a month for me to go where I want. I asked Trang, please follow me and will try my best to complete the assigned task.

The trip was a bit unexpected. I have never been to Kon Tum, just went to Gia Lai and made many friends in the Central Highlands provinces. I heard them talk about their homeland, the friendly people of the Central Highlands, the unique culture, and many beautiful sights that made me want to visit. And here, the opportunity to experience that is right in front of my eyes for the next two weeks.

I was fascinated by the beauty of communal houses in the Central Highlands.  Photo: Khanh Vu
I was fascinated by the beauty of communal houses in the Central Highlands. Photo: Khanh Vu

We packed our luggage, a few suits, a few personal items, a camera, and a phone. Trang said that there is no need to buy more books and pens because they are already available in class. We greeted our friends and went to the bus station in Pleiku City to catch the bus to Kon Tum, an intercity bus route of nearly 50 km with the price of 22,000 VND, very affordable for our students.

The car passed through the territory of Kon Tum province, I was happy because I had just passed a new land, but the road was still far, Highway 14 was straight and smooth, the two sides of the road were rolling hills and mountains one after another. To the city, we still had to take another bus ride to Dak Glei district. While oversleeping, Trang and I were woken up by the driver’s voice, at this time I opened the map and panicked because I had gone too far, close to the territory of Quang Nam province. We got off the bus and were instructed to take the return trip.

The place we rested is Dak Jak church, a spacious church that has just been built on a hill in the middle of a vast rubber forest, next to the red alluvial Po Ko river. Seeing us, the children studying in the class couldn’t help but look outside curiously to see the new “teacher” face. We met and greeted the parish priest and began our 2-week journey with this place.

Rubber forest and hills around Dak Jak church where we stayed.  Photo: Huynh Nhi
Rubber forest and hills around Dak Jak church where we stayed. Photo: Huynh Nhi

At night, as a habit, I often go to YouTube or surf Facebook, but the 3G package has run out of space since the afternoon, and there is no wifi in this place, I put my phone aside and the part is tired because of the long-distance so it sinks quickly. into sleep. In the following nights, we got used to the quiet space in the middle of the rubber forest, only hearing the chirping insects echoing all around. People often spread mats in front of the yard, make tea, bite melon seeds, sometimes children bring sour wild fruits picked by the roadside, dip in salt to play.

In the morning, I wake up early to exercise, walk around the rubber hills around the church, when I come to the cooking schedule for the whole group, I will get up at 5 am to ride a motorbike to the market to buy food. Those were misty mornings, my friend and I sat in the car and woke up because of the cold, then stopped at a small market in the area.

The market in the mountains sells a lot of delicious green vegetables, a lot of meat, but there are no freshwater fish like catfish, snakehead, choke like in my hometown. Some rows also have fish but dried salted sea fish in a basket, not fresh fish. As soon as we returned from the market, we started working on the kitchen team, cooking rice so that around 6:30, the group had breakfast.

After lunch, we start cleaning and sanitizing the accommodation, sometimes we will have more time to drink coffee, read books or talk to each other until 8:30, then start extra classes for the children. The children are very diligent, sometimes at 7 o’clock we were still eating, and we saw a few children hanging out the door, when asked, their parents had gone to work in the fields, no one at home should go to class early to play with their brothers and sisters.

In the afternoon, it is usually time to teach math and English, so I often borrow a bicycle to go out along the banks of Po Ko River, sit on the sand and watch people fishing, fishing, watching cows graze.

In Dak Glei, every passing day is precious to me, especially on weekends, the whole association will prepare fresh chicken, lam rice, cakes, water and fruit and then walk to the stream in this village, the other village to play or swim in the river.

Sometimes the priest also took us to visit the villages in the area. Father drove a pickup truck to bring rice, milk, and cakes to the people, then asked about farming, raising wild boar, growing coffee, and cassava. They took us to visit communal houses in the village, tried on national costumes, showed us how to make a mixed fish salad, grilled stream fish with bamboo tubes, tried forest banana wine, which was spicy, sweet and mellow. And when we came back, people also gave us more fruits, bamboo shoots, or domestic chickens, making us emotional forever.

The night before leaving Dak Glei to return to Saigon, a group of 13 members visited Ly’s house, a girl in grade 11 with a strong appearance, good organ player and many talents. That afternoon, Ly baked a lot of lam rice to treat us, her mother marinated the meat, cooked grilled chicken with lam rice. Baby Ly is skillful, baking every rice tube is delicious, I remember a vivid smell of each layer of banana leaves covering the top of the rice tube, and each grain of rice is soft, sweet, and fragrant.

We spread mats in front of Ly’s yard and bought sugarcane juice to drink. That night, Kon Tum’s sky was clear and full of stars. Our whole group looked up to the sky and listened to the brothers and sisters talking about the galaxy, distant stars, meteor showers. As soon as we finished speaking, a light flashed past, and we were excited and excited to ask each other if we had just seen a shooting star. At that time, I was very grateful to Trang for taking me to Kon Tum with my friends, letting me witness one surprise after another that I would never forget.

After 8 pm, the group greeted Ly’s family and returned to the church, Highway 14 was dark and windy at this time, passenger cars to Quang Nam and Hanoi kept running in the night. A brother in the group told us, in the future, we must really cherish the moments now because there are so many times in a person’s life. Follow vnexpress