B’lao, a place in the mountainous city of Bao Loc in Lam Dong Province, attracts visitors by its rustic beauty and peaceful moments that are hard to find elsewhere.
B’lao reminds me of a 20-year-old teacher living in a dull place during foggy days mentioned in songs composed by Trinh Cong Son in the 1960s, and the aroma of fresh tea gone with the breezes I could smell every time I travel from Saigon to Dalat.
In winter, B’lao is characterized by heavy rains and wild sun flowers in full bloom lining the local streets. This lush location also has slopes and hills whose tops are where churches are often built.
What I love most there is local residents seem to be never in a hurry. Kind and gentle, they take time to do things. As far as one can see, nothing could strip people living in B’lao of the peacefulness they have enjoyed. The place gives its residents satisfaction from what they have which also inspires visitors from afar.
When it comes to history, B’lao used to be home to tea and coffee plantations in the French colonial period. Until the 1950s, B’lao was still a backwoods girl knowing little or nothing about urban civilization. However, B’lao was waken up between 1955 and 1958 by waves of migration from northern provinces, giving rise to new hardworking communities.
Whenever I visit B’lao, either on the foggy days of December or the rainy days in August, my soul becomes innocent as I just want to be in harmony with nature.
I often traveled from Saigon to B’lao on weekends to find peace of mind and reenergize myself. The coaches that dropped me off in B’lao at midnight when the place was still asleep gave me a strange feeling which could be found nowhere else.
However, on my latest trip to B’lao in late 2020, I could no longer feel peace anymore. The hottest topic that could be heard everywhere was about real estate transactions. Even the coffee shop I usually visited when traveling to B’lao also offered property services. Listening to romantic songs at the coffee shop was one of the reasons I visited the place. However, I couldn’t do it because of the conversations about property transactions exchanged among the coffee drinkers.
I stayed in a hotel on a hill where I could hear church bells ringing in the morning and see flashlights of old women on their way to the church on foggy days. I also saw ancient houses with blue doors along the winding road down the hill. Small boards hung on the doors told me that these houses were either a tailor shop or a hair salon. The fences of these houses were often decorated with flowers and trees.
I hope that B’lao is still a peaceful and rustic place where people can remain peaceful as it once was.