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7/10/2018 10:10:00 PM

The Legendary Road

 In the harmonious sound of the Western Highlands song, I wandered along the old trace on the legendary south central highland road, to listen to the story of the "old grain of salt...".

 The story of the salt grain in the memory of the old village chiefs of the K’Ho, Churu, Ede ... on the land of the fanciful Central Highlands, must not have been faded about the path "wide enough for our feet to tread on”, cutting across the forests, the path which villagers take to go down the sea, bartering salt grains for sea food while other villagers wait for their return at home. Through many cycles of "back carrying" salt grains, many "spicy ginger, savoury salt " love stories have been sprung up and developed until now.
Without making any appointment, I head for Đưng K’Si village of K’Ho people at the foot of Mount Bidoup, Lac Duong district (Lam Dong). Despite over 70 cultivation years, the memory of the old Ha Vuong is still clear ; he related: "In the past, when people stepped out the door, they already touched the forests, so they continued to go through the forest down the sea. During the dry season, healthy men in the family brought the forest products to Ninh Thuan to barter for salt. "

The sun rises up. Mount Bidoup seems to be drifting in the clouds, mountains and hills pile up. I listen to the immense bird chorus. I follow the footsteps of Salem, The tourist guide of Bidoup National Park - he said: Salt grains of the ancient days for the Central Highlands people were very important. Sa Lem still remember, that Salem’s grandfather –Ha Han - and other men in the village went to the sea. "For a few months, they brought home the roots of the areca palms, rattan... they went away for days. Later on, I got to know that they went to barter salt", Sa Lem said.

To prove the story of "salt grain", we continued to look for the elderly in the K’Si village. Sa Nga was looking at the mountain far away, suddenly saw the stranger, Mr. Sa Nga started: "At that time, the road was hard, people went to barter salt from early morning until sunset, and therefore must stop to sleep on trees to avoid beasts. They went through forests for a few days, sometimes they even spent a few weeks just bringing back a few pounds of salt to the village”.

In the clear memory of the K’Ho ethnic people here, when referring to the way to "back carry" the salt grains up to the mountains, the obsessions of the past swarmed up. They said that each time the men in the family went down to the sea, their mother and wife at home anxiously waited for their return. But they could not lack salt. "Salt is sacred, so in the rituals of Central Highlands people, there was always salt. In the past, salt was given to the sick, or as gifts to give each other, "recalled old Sa Russia.

Through the journey of "bartering" products, the people of the Upper Sea, and the sea have formed the community connection. They share, exchange the things that they lack, they need. The road grains of salt road have connected many love affairs. And the faithful love, salty taste of the sea of Sa Nga, the Raglai and his wife K’Ho also comes from the salt grain road. According to matriarchal custom of K’Ho people, Mr. Sa Nga went to the mountain and became son-in-law and the son of the South Central Highlands.

The road of "old salt grains..." has deeply linked different ethnic groups. In the story with the old village chiefs of the Central Highlands, these indigenous ethnic minorities rarely had any trade, they usually brought the products to barter. In that process, other ethnic people of different languages understood each other. According to the data, Lam Dong area refers to the "deep trace" of contact between the K’Ho and Cham pa culture. Champa culture has brought to the residents of the South Central Highlands wet rice farming, breaking down the sustainability of traditional social organization by closed villages.

Back on the road connecting the green areas, the "spicy ginger, savoury salt" road, we suddenly merge ourselves in the song "take my hand, I will lead you to the long road ...".

By Mai Văn Bảo
Dalat Edensee


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