Continue to write love stories at the foot of Mother Mountain

K’Ho ethnic community in Lac Duong District in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong dearly refer to their Lang Bian Mountain as the Mother Mountain. The mountain is not only a holy symbol but also the inspiration of local people. It has witnessed the tragic love of Ka Lang and Ha Bian as well as the beautiful love story of Rolan Co Lieng, a K’Ho ethnic woman, and her American husband Joshua Guikema.

A corner of Lac Duong Town, Lam Dong District with the Lang Bian Mountain in the background (Photo:
A corner of Lac Duong Town, Lam Dong District with the Lang Bian Mountain in the background (Photo:

Legend has it that once upon a time, Lat and Sre families in the La Ngu Thuong area (now the north of Lam Dong Province) were sworn enemies. Lat family was headed by young, handsome and brave man Ha Bian, while Ka Lang was the gorgeous, elegant and intelligent daughter of the Sre family’s head.

The couple fell in love with each other after Ha Bian killed a venomous king cobra to save Ka Lang’s life. However, their love was rejected by Ka Lang’s father due to the animosity between the two families.

The couple decided to die together, and their deaths were mourned by people of the two families. The enmity was entirely erased and people of the two families lived in peace and harmony together.

The couple’s bodies were buried at the food of K’Bung Mountain, which was then named Lang Bian, blending Ha Bian and Ka Lang, in memory of their ill-fated love.

The legend of eternal love between ka Lang and Ha Bian is an oft-retold story among many generations of Central Highlanders, who are living at the foot of the Mother Mountain.

In 2009, the love story was retold in a more cherished and happier version through couple Rolan Co Lieng and Joshua Guikema.

Despite taking a stable job in the US after his graduation, Joshua Guikema had a passion for adventure and wanted to see the world. He visited Vietnam in 2009 and met Rolan at a campfire party when he was captivated by the wild and mysterious beauty of the Central Highland girl.

The fated encounter led to a marriage in 2014 and Joshua moved to Rolan’s house in B’Neur Village, Lac Duong Town, where he has taken up cultivating coffee plants, harvesting coffee beans, and enjoying the flavour of freshly roasted Arabica coffee at the height of 1,500 metres above sea level.

At first, Rolan’s parent had little trust in their daughter’s foreign boyfriend, but after witnessing the American guy didn’t mind doing farm work and caring for their daughter, they were convinced.

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Joshua Guikema and his K’Ho ethnic wife Rolan Co Lieng making coffee from their own K’Ho Coffee brand

As an agriculture engineer, he came up with of establishing an own brand for the village’s coffee and K’Ho Coffee was born as a family enterprise offering fresh roasted, sustainably grown, specialty grade arabica coffee sourced directly from their community for local and international buyers.

Joshua has partnered with more than 20 K’Ho ethnic households in the village to develop the techniques for environmentally friendly clean coffee cultivation to preserve the unique taste and aroma of ripe coffee at the peak of perfection.

The young couple named their family enterprise after K’Ho, Rolan’s hometown, so that their products carry the message that they are the fruit of the K’Ho people. Made-in-Josh coffee is not as darkly black as other coffees but has more of a deep brown hue “like Rolan’s eyes,” Josh said.

Their marriage produced good fruit with the birth of not only the K’Ho Coffee brand but also of their son Lee Herry Guikema Co Lieng. The family now lives in a house facing Lang Bian Mountain.

Sharing about the joy of living in a new land, Joshua said: “I love my wife, my son and everything in this land. I also love working as a farmer at coffee farms or looking at coffee farms and tasting K’Ho coffee on rainy days.”

Rolan Co Lieng and Joshua Guikema are now rewriting a new love story at the foot of the Mother Mountain. Their transnational marriage illustrates the openness spirit of people in Central Highlanders, who wish to integrate more into the world and introduce their specialties to international friends.

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Rolan Co Lieng and her son at a booth showcasing products of K’Ho Coffee (Photo: