JBL Workshop Vietnam 2013

From the jungle to the desert it was just 20 metres

No joke: a small street in Nha Trang separates the rainforest from the desert-like dune landscape at the coast! At the end of the workshop the whole group visited this biotope which none of us had expected in Vietnam. The sand dunes were covered with larger bush, shrub and cacti growth. To avoid the merciless tropical sun, we postponed the trip until the late afternoon. Nevertheless the air temperature was still up to 30% and – atypical for deserts - had an air humidity of 75 %. The high relative humidity in combination with the sand substrate has led to a worldwide unique situation. The two professors who came with us on the trip were so pleased with the region, that they went on several full-day excursions out there. They discovered plants which can normally only be found in totally different habitats! Some brackish water lagoons also formed very unusual living conditions, which delighted the biologists.

Despite the slowly sinking afternoon temperatures, large animals were hardly to be found. Crawler lanes in the sand proved that lizards had been there. Unfortunately we didn’t see them. Under some stones we found poisonous centipedes. The largest one however with a body length of over 30 cm was found by the hotel manager in the kitchen! Towards the sea you could find many holes in the sand. Those who waited for some minutes, could also see their inhabitants. The crabs had dug the holes, even though they were about hundred metres away from the waterline. Although we hardly found animals this habitat was worth taking a closer look at during different times of the day and night.

After ten days the JBL workshop Vietnam came to an end but the participants still had time on the last day to stroll through the place with its markets, hustle and bustle and souvenir shops. The most frequently asked question to me always was: “Isn’t it incredibly stressful to look after so many participants?” And my really honest reply was: “No, it isn’t. They all are nature-loving “crazy” people, who take joy in every puddle and every bush, because animals they are interested in live there. It only becomes exhausting, when someone forgets we are not in Germany anymore but in Asia and that the concept of time is different here. But I didn’t come across that! The participants of our JBL workshop were really great and I would take them along again any time.