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appeared in xxx. The article describes how a Vietnamese journalist travels to Thi Tran Prao, the district centre of Dong Giang (the district to which Maccoih commune belongs). When the journalist wonders about what there is to do and see in Prao, his friend tells him that
The night here in Prao is very ly thu [ ], there are no interesting activities going on here at
all, but there is one exciting thing here, we call it the "taste of the forest" [xxx ].
The journalist and his friend then sit up on their motorcycles and head off to discover what these "tastes of the forest" really are. It turns out that the place the journalist's friend had in mind is a place somewaht outside of Prao, just beyond the prefecture's border (inside Maccoih commune). The place is a rather weird, bordello camp, made up of makeshift bamboo huts and other ethereal constructions. Here, the journalist tells us, girls are found "which can cater for any tastes or preferences, no matter how perverse or weird". The article shows a picture of a girl in shackles (she seemingly in pain but that is probably part of her act ...) -- the caption reads "the prisoner girl". Several other dozens of girls work in this place, managed -- at least partly -- by a an older matrona. I believe that the fact that this strange place had been named "the taste of the forest" is more telling than might at first be apparent: As we have seen, Kinh people (following a Chinese cultural pattern) believe that consuming wild (forest/mountain) animals is a kind of "invigorating act" (hence the reference to some of the most expensive wild animals as "medicine" animals2). Consumption of wild animals is also, in the emerging, more affluent parts of the Sino-Vietnamese societies -- a distinctly status showing activitiy (especially among businessmen and, unfortunately, also among many high level officials). At the same time, these societies have developed very little of Western notions of "popular environmentalism" -- e.g. habits of walking in forests or visiting nature for recreational purposes. Essentially, in the Kinh popular culture as it stands today, the "powers of the forest" are meant to be consumed (through the mouth), not simply observed.
which is not a really accurate translation of these concepts, but merely the attempt of outsiders (westerners) to label this behaviour/ ... which somehow is neither part of any of the institionalised religions of China/Vietnam, and yet also not really a type of activity which could be rationally understood from the point of view of western/universal medicine. Instead, it is a kind of modernised version of older ... folkmedicine/folklore conceptions, now given (among urban residents) a virtually equal standing to that of western medicine.
Yet the camp always remained and had. just as the rest of steadily increasing population of Kinh immigres in Prao. But the girls were not from the local area.Considering all the times that I have visited Prao. one must consider the resettled villagers of Maccoih commune. however. living just a couple of kms away. for obvious reasons. However. but after each such effort the place had just reappeared again some time later.most of them still had homes and some small parcels of land to work on. than in their home areas. according to a local official interviewed by the journalist. joking about "prostitutes" being a distinct "ethnic minority". dan toc meaning ethnic minority and ca ve being vernacular for "prostitute". become almost synonymous with the "nightlife of Prao". an area not very far from Saigon.) had now long left the area -. This is a play of words.the bordello camp remained! The life of the girls was certainly not easy and -. Yet this story of the "taste of the forest" makes me 2 . there had been many efforts to get rid of the place. nor were they Katu. Apparently. He was not claiming that the prostitutes were indigenous themselves but. I realised that I had already heard of this place before: In 2006 -. many prostitutes do not want to work close to home. a provincial forestry official had pointed to the camp city of the construction workers of the dam and told us with a smile: "Here you can find dan toc ca ve". to have been fortunate -. the fact that they have to travel as far away as this points toward something else: These prostitutes. The camp referred to by the Kinh in Prao as "the taste of the forest" was thus the remnants of the old bordello which had cropped up to cater for the dam construction staff.and to make ends meet -. I found this article surprising.in this remote mountainous area.this was obviously not a healthy or luxurious place.to work as prostitutes -. rather. Although all these workers and engineers (etc. The article identifies one girl as being from Can Tho. simply found it easier to survive -. This collection of souls was thus constituted of girls whose lives in the "delta" and lowland areas were so difficult that they would have to migrate -. they were Kinh girls from various provinces in the country. To work in remote districts which are statistically among the poorest of all of Vietnam! It is well known that. to some. As I reflected upon the article.when I passed down the Ho Chi Minh Highway as a short term consultant for the WWF.in a remote mountainous area. Compared to these girls. apparently. and always had the impression of it being as being a calm (not to say boring) place.
And this is true even today.up to the mountains. starving civilisations and makes the case that the uplander civilisations of Southeast Asia are made up of communities which have intentionally escaped the state-building civilisations of the coastal areas and the river deltas .org/mediamanager/documents/Publications/Policyinstitutions/sea_hydropower_vietnam_appendices. These latter.. Indeed.... But Vietnam's history. appeared to often be among the poorest of the poor among their own. Those who had chosen to stay. According to that logic . however..pdf 3 .sei-international. THE END SEI DOCUMENT: http://www. looking for work and a better life. Again and again.think of Scott's The Art of Not Being Governed. however.). we read about predictions that the worlds citizens are moving down to the cities. In that book Scott dispels the myth about the uplanders of Southeast Asia "as unfortunate relics" of archaic. as these cases show. among the Katu communities many cases of local women which had been made pregnant by itinerant workers (having promised the girls that they would marry them . were these girls just the last wave of broken lowlanders trying to make a living in the mountains? There were. had been adopted into the local communities. is perhaps better characterised by people travelling the other way -.org/mediamanager/documents/Publications/Policyinstitutions/sea_hydropower_vietnam_full%20report.. there were even some Kinh men that had chosen to stay among the Katu.pdf APPENDICES http://www.sei-international.