by Minh Thu
"You can relax on a sand bank, swim or row out to nearby islands, or even climb up to discover wild caves. It sounds good, doesn't it?"
Serenity: Visitors paddle along the lake in swan boats. — File photos
|Free-wheeling: Families cycle near Dai Lai Lake.
Yes, it does. When my close friend asked me to accompany her to Dai Lai tourist resort, where she would be taking wedding photos, I agreed, thinking I would be able to help her and visit the site at the same time. That's how I ended up by the lake at the foot of the Tam Dao mountain range.
The 525ha Dai Lai Lake and its beautiful natural environs are located in the suburbs of the capital, 50km from the inner city and an easy 10km from Noi Bai International Airport.
Dai Lai has diverse terrain including lakes, hills, valleys, and mountains large enough to accommodate a great hoard of tourists on holidays. On weekends, they can be found swimming, strolling, fishing, and participating in water sports or other activities along the shoreline.
Dai Lai means a "great source of water" in the language of the San Diu ethnic group who reside near the lake.
The climate and weather in Dai Lai are rather stable thanks to the surrounding mountains. The average temperature is 28OC in summer and 16 degrees Celsius in winter, more pleasant than Ha Noi and neighbouring regions.
Dai Lai is being turned into a regional and international tourist area, with golf courses, villas and commercial centres.
Animals that can be spotted include monkey, wild boar, deer, sandbar deer, fox, squirrel, porcupine, python, snake and several protected bird species.
The lake lies next to Than Lan (Lizard) Mountain named after its shape which imitates two lizards huddled with their heads together. Legend has it that the two giant lizards fought over a precious stone but lost it where Ngoc Thanh Village stands nowadays. They were transformed into a mountain as punishment for losing the pearl.
|Tumbling waters: Tourists hike upstream to Doi (Bat) Cave near Dai Lai Lake.
Tourists often soak themselves in the clean green water of the lake in the early morning hours, before climbing up Than Lan Mountain to enjoy the panoramic view of Ha Noi's urban area in the glow of dawn.
Our host Nguyen Quoc An suggested that Co Island in the centre of the lake should be our afternoon spot. We reached the island after a half-hour boat ride. Although tourists have frightened away most of the storks, smaller birds still chatter above our heads and call to each other to come home. The site seems poetic and peaceful at sunset.
We gather around a camp-fire, eating, dancing and singing together. It's really unforgettable.
"Tourists flock to the site during the summer months to escape the heat further south," An said. "Couples or adventurers seeking solitude are the most common visitors during the rest of the year."
Intrepid cyclists and off-road drivers can travel the 15km from the lake to Nhe Mountain Pass where they can enjoy a spectacular sight. From there, the footpath is clear along Lanh Stream up to Doi Cave.
Near the cave, the current becomes strong and the path hard to access due to large rocks. An easier way across the pine hills has been put in place to help tourists reach the cave without slipping and falling.
True to its name, Doi Cave is home to many bats. After a challenging trek to the cave, tourists can relax by swimming at a small pond beside the cave's entrance. It's absolutely safe since the water does not rise above chest level, even during the rainy season.
My friend was finally satisfied with her collection of wedding photos. As for me, I had a meaningful and interesting trip.
It was so easy to have a wonderful and enjoyable weekend that I'll definitely go back. And who knows, maybe I'll be taking wedding photos myself there soon. — VNS