POINT BLANK: TAY NGUYEN HIGHLANDS
Tây Nguyên Highlands / Vietnam
Tây Nguyên is a plateau bordering the lower part of and northeastern Cambodia. Kon Tum Province shares a border with both Laos and Cambodia but Gia Lai Province and Đắk Lắk Province only share borders with Cambodia. Lâm Đồng Province is landlocked, and thus has no international border.
The native inhabitants of the Central Highlands are the Degar (Montagnard) peoples. Ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) people arrived in the area during their “march to the south” (Nam tiến). The Vietnamese now outnumber the indigenous Degars after state sponsored settlement directed by both the government of the Republic of Vietnam and the current Communist government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The Montagnards have fought against and resisted all Vietnamese settlers, from the anti-Communist South Vietnamese government, the Viet Cong, to the Communist government of unified Vietnam.
POINT BLANK: “THE CRAZY HOUSE”
Da Lat / Vietnam
Hang Nga guesthouse, also known as the “Crazy House,” is a piece of artwork that really surpasses the limit of people’s imagination. Designed by Vietnamese architect and impressionist Dang Viet Nga, this extraordinary building of non-rectilinear shapes has appeared in many international architectural journals and finally made its way to the list of the world’s ten most creative buildings (according to the Chinese People’s Daily).
As the intention of the architect is to make a fairy tale house, the “crazy house” resembles a tree with uneven windows, tunnel-shaped stairways, etc. Both the exterior and the interior of the guesthouse are created and decorated with twisting organic forms and very few right angles. The hollow “tree” extends in many directions, rising above to reach to the sky of the amazing Da Lat. Walking along the cave-shape hallways inside the house is not simply a visit but an exhilarating experience, a departure from the norm; wild mushrooms and spider webs popping up on your way is not unusual. Besides, the guesthouse is really a spectacular construction with ten themed guest rooms such as the tiger room, the eagle room, the ant room and the kangaroo room…, with decorations and handcrafted furniture matching the theme. According to Viet Nga, each room has its own meaning: the tiger room refers to the Chinese; the eagle room describes the American; and the ant room represents the Vietnamese, etc.