|Temple of secrets: Just over 5km from Bai Lu Beach, Cuong Temple attracts tourists with its air of mystery and tales of historical legend. — VNS Photos Nguyen Thuy Binh
by Le Binh
After travelling along a winding road that wraps its way around Mo Da Mountain in the central province of Nghe An, it feels amazing to feast our eyes on the clear sky, blue sea and green trees lining Bai Lu Beach.
About 270km away from Ha Noi and 25km from Vinh City, the pristine Bai Lu Beach is an emerging tourist destination in the homeland of President Ho Chi Minh.
In Vietnamese, bai means beach and Lu relates to travelling. The beach was given the same name as the nearby Lu Mountain. A legend surrounding the mountain says that a traveller followed the beautiful voice of a woman singing for thousands of years until he reached the sea. When he got there, he found a mermaid and was immediately entranced. He stood patiently on the shore, waiting for his dream lover, but she never came, and eventually he became a speechless mountain.
The beach and the mountain together create a poetic peaceful landscape. The clear blue water, fresh air and white sand relax us all after the long car journey from Ha Noi. The central province is usually hit by a hot western breeze from Laos during the summer, but the mountain range encircling the bay keeps the beach cool.
"Walking along the beach at sunrise or sunset is a great experience," said Pham Tuyet Mai, a tourist from Ha Noi who has returned to the resort with her family and friends for the second time.
Mai's children are excited to see a large whale statue, 2.7m tall and 24m long. In 2001, a dead whale washed up on the beach, and locals decided to bury the beast at this spot because they thought it was a good omen.
|Ever watchful: A huge statue of Buddha sits halfway up Mo Da Mountain.
Since that day, local inhabitants and visitors come to burn incense to show their respect for the "king of the sea".
"I have never seen a model like this before," said Mai's little son, excitedly.
All these factors are the reasons it was chosen for the Bai Lu Resort, which has been open for five years.
Chairman of the Bai Lu Trade and Investment Company Nguyen Trong Doan said that he wanted to develop a luxury resort in his homeland.
It is created for people to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy convenient services, he said.
The resort features a large area of green space filled with flower gardens, grass fields and plants and stone decorations. Each stone represents a folk tale. Along the Tinh Tinh (Gorilla) road lie gorilla-shaped stones that visitors can view from different angles.
Also from the road, tourists can see a big, white statue of Buddha which lies halfway up Mo Da Mountain. The statue was set up with a view to making the area more peaceful.
|Whale of a time: In January, 2001 a dead whale from the ocean drifted ashore. Considering whales to be precious creatures, the local inhabitants buried it and built this statue, thinking it a good omen.
For those who wish to visit religious retreats, a tour through Cuong Temple, Ne Temple and Bach Y Princess Temple is an alternative to sun, sand and sea.
Cuong Temple is situated on Mo Da Mountain in Dien Trung Commune, Dien Chau District, just over 5km from Bai Lu Resort.
It has been described as a beautiful and solid work of architecture work which can stand the adverse weather with heavy rains and typhoons in the central Viet Nam.
It is said that in the past, the mountain was the habitat of peacocks. The mountain itself looks like a giant dancing peacock or stork, and Cuong Temple dedicated to King An Duong Vuong is situated on the head of the peacock.
To the north of the mountain is the flat Cua Hien Beach. Legend has it that on fine days, King An Duong Vuong walked along the shore and played chess with fairies on a flat rock there, so it was named chess-board rock. At dawn, the rock-field sparkles with different colours. In the afternoon, the shade of Mo Da Mountain covers the rock-field, the temperature drops and the area becomes cool and comfortable.
Visiting the temple, tourists have a chance to hear legends about Viet Nam's brave fight against foreign invaders. One story goes that at the end of the reign of the 18th Hung King, the country was confronted by northern invaders.
To save the country, the king abdicated and the throne was taken by Thuc Phan, a talented mandarin who could unite all the generals and people to defeat the invaders.
After the victory, he was crowned and called himself King An Duong Vuong. He changed the country's name from Van Lang to Au Lac and moved the capital city from Phong Chau (in Vinh Phuc Province today) to Co Loa (Ha Noi now). — VNS