Lat Village

The nine hamlets of Lat Village (population 6000), whose name is pronounced ‘lak’ by the locals, are about 12 km from Dalat at the base of Lang Bian Mountain. The inhabitants of  five of the hamlets are of the Lat ethnic group; the residents of the other four are members of the Chill, Ma and Koho tribes, each of which speaks a different dialect.

Traditionally, Lat houses are built on piles with rough plank walls and a thatched roof. The people here eke out a living on 300 hec-tares of land, growing rice, coffee, black beans and sweet potatoes. Economics have forced many villagers into producing charcoal, a lowly task often performed by Montagnards. Before 1975 many men from Lat worked with the Americans, as did many Montagnards elsewhere.

Classes in the village's schools are conducted in Vietnamese rather than tribal languages. Lat has one Catholic and one Protestant church. A Koho-language Bible (Sra Goh) was published by Protestants in 1971; a Lat-Ianguage Bible, prepared by Catholics, appeared a year later. Both dialects are quite similar and are written in a Latin-based script. To get to Lat from Dalat, head north on Đ Xo Viet Nghe Tinh. At Trung Lam Hamlet there's a fork in the road marked by a street sign. Continue straight on (northwest) rather than to the left.

By bicycle the 12km trip from Dalat to Lat takes about 40 minutes. On fool it's a two-hour walk.
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