The Last Elephant Keeper

Chu Mo Commune in La Pa District in the Central Highlands Province of Gia Lai was known for breeding elephants. But recently, only one man in the whole region has remained true to the duty.


Ksor Cham lives in Plei Pa Kdranh Village. Perhaps like everyone else in the place, he belongs to a family who has bred elephants for many generations. The animal is a great help in transporting goods and even with farm work. But more than an economical benefit, elephants in the commune were like a family to the villagers.


When Ksor Cham’s father’s animal died in 1970, he bought a new one which he named Bak Xom. The elephant even gained a wife when Ksor bought a cow in 1990 and was named Ya Tau. But Bak Xom became seriously sick and died three years later and they had no babies to continue their generation.

Ya Tau took on his elephant husband’s role by carrying wood to sell to the other households in the village which was Ksor Cham’s source of livelihood. The bond between the owner and his beast is so strong that even when someone offered to buy the animal at a fair price, Ksor Cham refused.


Today, Ksor Cham and his son-in-law Ksor Aluh continue to take care of Ya Tau which is kept in the forest. His unwavering dedication to his responsibility has earned him the monicker “The Final Elephant Keeper in Gia Lai.” And more than caring for an animal, Ksor Cham has preserved a very important tradition in his homeland.


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Tran Quang Vinh is an interesting individual who, even at an early age has a strong interest in ancient objects, particularly vehicles. Perhaps he took it from his father who collected the same things as well as other items as long as they were old. In fact, his passion was so strong that he studied Mechanics and later on went to Vietnam to sell the items he and his father has collected over the years.


There, Vinh opened an antique shop called Xe co quan (Vintage Vehicle Shop) which resembled a museum of old cars as well as other ancient objects. Thirty vintage motorcycles and scooters can be found in the store. Some of the notable items are a 1951 Motobecane scooter which has its brake on the left side and gearbox on the right; and a 1938-1941 750cc BMW motorbike. Other ancient items like a phonograph and a Marelli brand fan are also displayed in the shop.


To this day and perhaps until he dies, Vinh continues and will continue to collect antiques because it is his passion which he likes to share to the world.


East Sea Home


Nguyen Van Ai is a 62-year old fisherman in Binh Dinh Province who considers the East Sea his home. This is because when he and his wife Nguyen Thi Lam first arrived here, the whole area was empty. But through hard work and determination, their life improved along with a growing family of eight children. Over time, other people also began to arrive and settle there as well.


Today, Nguyen Van Ai’s family is a prominent figure in the province because of their growing success in the business of fishing. His six sons and two son-in-laws have followed in his footsteps as a fisherman. They own four high-capacity boats with advanced facilities like a 900-horsepower feature and ability to stand strong gale winds at forces between 9-10.


The boats help Nguyen Van Ai and his family maintain their livelihood by catching and selling fish and transporting other important goods. He is planning to construct an even more powerful boat with 1,000 horsepower to continue his legacy.

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