The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewLinh Dinh Archive
Dak Lak
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

It was a 200-mile journey from Saigon to Dak Lak, a highlands province that saw much fighting during the Vietnam War. Just north of Saigon, I passed quite a few grand villas, with two dog statues on gate columns, though some owners outdid their neighbors by having lions instead.

The further north I went, the smaller the houses became, and the more churches I saw, some brand new. The government states that only 8% of Vietnamese are Christians, but the true percentage must be twice that, at least. I saw many graves with crosses.

As I climbed higher, the rubber trees gave way to coffee and pepper plants. Here and there, an avocado orchard or corn field. Noticing people on motorbikes with a windbreaker or hoodie, I suddenly became alarmed at not having brought a coat, but the temperature never dipped below pleasantly cool.

One recent summer evening in Catalan, a man I was chatting with at an outdoor cafe shudderingly said he had to rush home because it was getting too cold, and I thought he had to be joking or a wimp. “You live in the US. This is nothing for you. I’m freezing!” It’s all relative.

Serpentining upward, dragonlike, I skirted the Cambodian border. The Ho Chi Minh trail was once just on the other side. At a dusty intersection, an old bicyclist had on gray pajamas and a black combat helmet. Though with a face like a squashed prune and toothless, he can still aim straight, I’d bet. A propaganda billboard advised, “FIRM WITH THE RIFLE, STEADY WITH THE STEERING WHEEL.”

M’Drak Street Scene
M’Drak Street Scene

In Dak Lak Province, most of the place names aren’t Vietnamese, but even in strange-sounding Ea Kly, Ea Kar or M’Drak, all I saw on the streets were Vietnamese, for they have taken over. A century ago, there were 151 Rade villages in the area, so where were the Rades?

A Vietnamese, Quan, informed me, “As we move in, they retreat further into the forest. Plus, they dress just like us now, so if you see them in town, you may not notice. They are darker, though.”

Smiling, Quan added, “And their women are rather disgusting, when you look at them. There’s something not quite right about them!” Like a tolerance for heat or cold, it’s mostly what you’re used to, I suppose, though novelty, for some, can be intriguing.

Born in harsh Binh Dinh, Quan moved to Saigon as a teen. In college, he often couldn’t afford more than a plate of rice with pig liver and bean sprouts for lunch, for it only cost 9 cents. He rode a cheap Chinese bike that often broke down. Now, Quan owns several businesses and was in Dak Lak to buy land for a recycling plant. Looking into exporting organic Vietnamese vegetables to India, he visited that country recently. His wife went to Dubai for fun.

With Quan, I visited a business associate of his, also a Vietnamese. Everything inside Truong’s house was tired looking. The front room was decorated with a large picture of fruits and vegetables, something you’d find in a barrio grocery store. The backroom had two wooden beds and a beat-up glass cabinet, containing faded, threadbare and long-outdated clothing. His parents came out to greet us. The old man wore a white and baby blue golf shirt that featured this stitched on tag, “THTP Buôn Ma Thuột” [“Buon Ma Thuot High School”]. After four decades, maybe he’s still enrolled.

Truong, “Yes, this area is changing very fast. More and more people are coming in, and the trees are being cut down. You hardly see elephants anymore. The elephant is very important to the Rades. It’s their spiritual core. Plus, elephants hauled timber. Now, elephants are only used to give rides to tourists.”

“So they’re being bred just for that?”

“It’s not easy for elephants to breed, big brother! You don’t know. They’re very picky, and can only mate in the forest. Once they’ve paired up, you have to let them wander into the forest. They can only have intercourse there.”

“If you let them go, how can you find them later?”

“They’ll come back by themselves!”


“Oh, the Rades love their elephants! They even stage weddings for them! With less forest every day, it’s harder for the elephants to breed, however, so there are fewer and fewer elephants.”

With corrupt officials looking the other way, illegal logging is rampant in Dak Lak, and the Rades themselves participate, since it’s a great source of cash, and they’re developing a taste for the accoutrements of modern life, such as blue jeans, cable TV, beer and the smart phone. The ones who are raking in the most money are the Vietnamese, of course. Many of them had descended from the North, after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

One evening, I visited a man from Bac Ninh, a province just outside Hanoi. Twenty-four years ago, he moved to Ea Kly, a dusty, miserable village of 10,000. Now up to 20,000, it has little to recommend it. There’s a restaurant selling rice gruel with eel for breakfast, a homely elementary school with a drum to call students to class, and a Buddhist temple with a tin roof and walls of faded, corrugated plexiglass.

Entering Săm’s living room, I was immediately blown away by his huge, sumptuously carved cabinet/altar piece, however. Made from jackfruit wood, it had lacquer inlaids. At the top, two-tiered pagodas flanked a framed portrait of Săm’s deceased father. Inside a lit, glass enclosure was a circular portrait of General Giap, a rather surprising feature since Săm is my age, thus too young to serve in the War. Beneath General Giap were three wooden statues symbolizing prosperity, status and longevity. A gigantic wooden vase stood on each side of the cabinet/altar piece.

As we sat on ornately carved wooden furniture, I blathered to my host, “I’ve never seen such a beautiful altar piece! It belongs in a museum!”

“It’s modeled after the one in Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng’s house! I saw it once.”

“Your house must be the most beautiful in this village!”

“It can’t be! It’s all right. My brother’s is also nice.”

And it was, with a similarly spectacular cabinet/altar piece. Outdoing his brother, he even had a coffered wooden ceiling.


A small, dark man with brown or missing teeth, Săm had clearly been knocked about a bit. He seemed ten years older. His brother, Thắng, had a brighter, smoother complexion, more gleam in his eyes and more cockiness in his voice. When I told him I was simply a writer, and my wife a mere sales clerk, Thắng beamed a thousand watts as if he had just knocked me out in a cage fighting match. Traveling across this turbulent, blighted earth, I had accomplished next to nothing, while he became a veritable king in But Phuc Yu.

“In every society, there are winners and losers,” Thắng actually declared. Very vô duyên, indeed.

The brothers’ first contact in the area was an aunt who had gone South in 1954. During the War, she made a small fortune selling opium to American soldiers. “My aunt was a legendary beauty,” Thắng exuded. “But after 1975, she was broken.”

Aren’t you hungry? Whatever you do, don’t try the pho with fried perch, a Dak Lak specialty. I could barely finish my bowl and, to make matters worse, the restaurant was filthy. On its floor were discarded tissue paper, toothpicks and whatever else.

I said to Quan, “You know, someone should make pho with venison. I bet that would sell. It would certainly beat this crap!”

“But there’s hardly any deer left!” Once, there were even tigers up this way.

So it’s all about lebensraum, my fellow Nazis. One ethnic group encroach upon another, and as cancerous mankind, we merrily wreck this earth, making a mass die off inevitable.

Leaving Ea Kar, I saw a billboard showing a Vietnamese Airforce pilot, a Marine, two Navy sailors and two civilians. The message, “DETERMINED TO DEFEND OUR BELOVED SEA AND ISLANDS.” It’s about China, of course, as it often is with Vietnam.

On the road, I finally ran into some Rades. Apparently too poor to afford a motorbike, a dozen of them sat in the uncovered back of a motorbike truck. Near a village called Đoàn Kết [Unity], I passed a group of Rade children walking back from school. Taught by their invaders, they would learn to venerate Unce Ho and dozens of other Vietnamese heroes, mostly military.

Dak Lak once belonged to Champa, a Hindu then Muslim civilization nearly wiped out by conquering Vietnam. I was born in Saigon, 265 years after it was taken from Cambodia, who called it Prey Nokor. Though there’s almost no trace of Cambodia left in my native city, they occupied it for about six centuries, more than twice longer than the existence of the United States of America.

Grossly misruled, economically crippled, thoroughly brainwashed, drugged, amnesiac and stripped of any unifying credo beyond the increasingly absurd, “We’re number one!” Americans won’t just expire long before the Vietnamese but, it’s a safe bet, the eternally beleaguered yet enduring Rades.

Methodically destroyed by the evil empire, Americans are the only ones too stupid and cowardly to fight back.

Linh Dinh’s latest books are Postcards from the End of America (non-fiction) and A Mere Rica (poetry). He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Vietnam 
Hide 29 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. “…Inside a lit, glass enclosure was a circular portrait of General Giap, a rather surprising feature since Săm is my age, thus too young to serve in the War…”
    You should ask some people about General Giap. And about what happened after his death and around his burying.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  2. gruff says:

    What are other names for the Rades? I can’t find anything about them under that name.

  3. Methodically destroyed by the evil empire, Americans are the only ones too stupid and cowardly to fight back.

    A big problem in America is that the actions necessary to try to fight back would spurn a person from his family. So many women hold liberal views that speaking up may mean sacrificing your relationship with your family. Your voice of reality may make a tiny difference, but probably not. By speaking up and dropping some red pills, you are only going to end up alone at Christmas. This is a significant problem. Making money is not the goal in the USA; the goal is self-actualization and giving your life and your family’s life to invading hordes seems to be the self-actualizing reality for many women. How are you going to change the mind of any person who cannot for himself or herself do the math on MS-13 immigration? That is the low hanging fruit and its still too difficult for many to process.

    • Replies: @Austro
  4. Mr. Dinh, why don’t you meet up with some Viet leaders and explain to them that Homomania is the proxy of neo-imperialism by the US?

    I mean, did all those Viet patriots sacrifice so many lives just to have their nation be colonized by this sick neo-religion of queertianity?

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  5. utu says:

    meet up with some Viet leaders and explain to them that Homomania is the proxy…

    Too late.

  6. “When I told him I was simply a writer, and my wife a mere sales clerk, Thắng beamed a thousand watts as if he had just knocked me out in a cage fighting match.”
    great passage, sometimes people can be made happy in an easy way:-)

  7. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi gruff,

    Here’s the wikipedia entry on them.


  8. Methodically destroyed by the evil empire, Americans are the only ones too stupid and cowardly to fight back.

    It’s worse than that. The great bulk of ‘Merkins actually support and make excuses for their masters. Fighting back is entirely out of the question as one can see from many of the comments that can be read on UR.

    On another note, did you get to any of Binh Dinh’s beaches? At one time they were spectacular.

    • Replies: @Grandpa Charlie
  9. n230099 says:

    …illegal logging[is] a great source of cash, and they’re developing a taste for the accoutrements of modern life, such as blue jeans, cable TV, beer and the smart phone.”

    LOL!! Welcome to earth…good grief.

  10. @utu

    I am certainly not opposed to other races failing to reproduce, whether because of the homosexual perversion or some other reason. This is increasingly true as the world becomes increasingly overcrowded and polluted.

    • Replies: @Ximenes
  11. @utu

    Letting go of Annan was a mistake.

  12. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Get up early and work on your dance steps with the controlled opposition – ‘tap left, tap right, tappa, tappa, tappa, tappa’ – pirouette, curtsey. Tada! That’s how those Rades do it. The American flock would be wise to follow this example as encouraged by the CIA.

  13. Ximenes says:

    “…as the world becomes increasingly overcrowded…”

    Can you provide evidence that this is happening?

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  14. @Priss Factor

    Do you have problem with a tiny fraction of human population, abstractivize it in your head as if every homossexual walking in the streets is your mortal enemy and dishonestly trying to create a fundamental association between homossexual behavior and “civilization” decline as if the fundamental right to this tiny minority of population to live their nature without retarded “”religious”” condemning them cause “god”, is the major cause of “civilization” malady.

  15. The Rades led the “revolt” against the Vietnamese in 1964. In early 1965, the Special Forces formed a small elite group of them called “Eagle Flight” based out of Pleiku. I remember them well, and most GIs treated them kindly and with respect as a persecuted minority.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  16. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The rulin’ elite in the ‘Nam own the latest gear. Analytics, predictive data mining – suck it all up. Amazon, Google, Alexa, Nina, Vi, twit, facial-book, social control media – right in there with ’em all day long. Make shit happen right quick with the completely clueless populace. Disabled and unaware they’ve been drafted as unpaid employees of Minitrue through their handheld porn telescreens. But it feels so right. Goddamn beautiful like Democracy.

  17. Anonymous [AKA "Tran Hung Dao"] says:

    The people in VN mindlessly import a lot of silly cultural things from the West and two among the most silly are Valentine and Halloween.

  18. @Ruediger Walter

    So Giap got a state funeral and was buried in his home province rather than in Hanoi with the other founding fathers of DRV. What point are you making? He spent his latter years criticizing the government and its lax attitude to things like mining and logging, but he still made it to 102, and they still went through the motions of burying him like a hero because for many he still was.

  19. @Ximenes

    “…as the world becomes increasingly overcrowded…”

    Can you provide evidence that this is happening?

    Reading some of the comments should provide all the evidence one would reasonably need

    • LOL: Talha
  20. gdpbull says:

    Here is a hit piece against the vietnamese by I believe an Australian news group. Its about the Rades or the Montagnard i think its the French name for them. I was transferred from the Danang area to a Pleiku-Kontum area Air Cav unit about two months after the following documentary was made.

    • Replies: @gdpbull
  21. gdpbull says:

    Ok, well, it would be great if I had read the other comments before I posted something. I see where Linh posted the wiki entry on Rades. I guess they are not the same as the Montagnards as I stated in my previous comment. Still, they look to be fairly similar. I had never heard of the Rades while I was in Vietnam, but I was always in I and II corp, so maybe that’s why.

    People may still be interested in the documentary I linked to on the Montagnards during the 1972 NVA Easter Offensive.

  22. aandrews says:

    How appropriate that asshole lives in a place called But Phuc Yu.

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  23. Marx vs Markets.

    2013 debate.

  24. Austro says:
    @rotney jones

    You’re saying the same thing, we allowed it to happen.

  25. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Rick Johnson

    Those were the days weren’t they? Americans treating the oppressed lower classes with dignity and respect – methodically incinerating their children as trying times made necessary in the fight against Communism.

  26. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    It is always a great pleasure to read Linh Dinh’s posts.

    Leonardo da Vinci is credited with saying, “There are three classes of people: Those who see, those who see when they’re shown, those who do not see.”

    Charles Hugh Smith:
    Consent of the Conned:

    One chooses based on who and what one is. I’d bet Mr. Dinh didn’t even have to think about it.

    • Replies: @Anon
  27. @jacques sheete

    My relatively young friend says, “F**k that! We might be stupid but we aren’t cowards!”

  28. @aandrews

    How appropriate that asshole lives in a place called But Phuc Yu.

    Wrong. Butt Phuc U is the name of the preschool you flunked out of.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Linh Dinh Comments via RSS