|An old bridge on 'Ambush Alley' runs parallel to the new Highway 9|
|View looking north of Highway 9, towards the old De-Militarized Zone|
As we cruise along in the tiny van, I look north towards the old DMZ, where the horizon is filled with rugged, smoky mountains. Most of these hills are covered with greenery, and with the hills so close to the highway, you would expect more of them to be growing crops. Here too, the land is suffering the lingering effects of Agent Orange, and much of the hillside farmland remains fallow. The presence of wartime unexploded munitions and mines, has also kept many of these hills from being cleared for agriculture.
|Remains of bridge destroyed during the war|
|The 'Rockpile'; a US Marine Corps outpost was once atop this karst formation|
There is little military presence here these days. I saw only two small Vietnamese Army bases along the road, and they were rather small. The only thing strategic about this highway today, is that it’s a trading route leading from the coast into Laos.
|Longboats from local villages on the Cua Viet River|
|Stilt homes and local children of an ethnic Bru village|
|Pigs roam loose in the village|
|Curious Bru boy watches me from a wheelbarrow|
Some of the Bru fled for Laos, where they still remain today. Since then some Bru have lost their land, but other Bru refugee families have returned, such as these families here. They built these homes, cleared hillside land, and planted corn on the river banks. Life remains hard for the Bru, but at least it’s peaceful these days.