Viet Nam News
By Phương Hà
Unattracted by beautiful beaches during hot summer days, my friends and I decided to visit the primitive forest in An Lạc Commune in the northern province of Bắc Giang so that we could get a dose of pure air from a charming bit of nature and cool off in its stream.
In addition to traditional culture spots in northern Việt Nam, Bắc Giang Province has been fortunately endowed with beautiful landscape, among them the primitive Khe Rỗ forest and stream in An Lạc Commune.
In recent years, the neglected and mysterious Khe Rỗ forest, a wonderful natural gift with its melodious murmuring stream breaking the silence, have enchanted many visitors.
After a 150km journey from Hà Nội, with our motorbikes heated and covered in a thick layer of red earth, we finally reached An Lạc Commune. Seeing the stream, we could not resist and jumped into the cool fresh water.
Most of the time, groups of motorbikes and cars could be seen passing by. Visitors to An Lạc even outnumber residents there.
After parking our motorbikes, taking a short break and acquiring some necessary information from the native people, we embarked on our walk along the small concrete path running along the stream into the forest.
Mystery: Khe Rỗ Primitive Forest is endowed with beautiful and peaceful landscapes. — Photo mytour.vn
According to the forest wardens’ map, the route is five to six kilometres long.
We started our walk. Stilt houses gradually appeared amid the trees. Under an agreement with local authorities, some local ethnic households and those from the plains have been allowed to run tourism business, such as providing homestay accommodations or related services.
Dương Văn Thông, a stilt-house owner, told us that An Lạc Commune used to be very isolated and rarely visited, except by forest wardens. However, about five years ago, some foreigners on an adventurous trip from Yên Tử in the northern province of Quảng Ninh took a break there and discovered the treasure. They shared their information on the internet, luring more and more visitors.
Most residents of the villages in An Lạc Commune are members of various tribes, mostly Tày, Nùng, Cao Lan and Sán Chỉ. Visitors’ first impression is of bamboo fences around stilt or earth houses. The dirt paths of each village are kept clean and clear.
At times, we caught sight of a single stilt house in the middle of the forest, covered in mist. It was so tranquil that we could only hear the birds singing, the cock crowing and the murmuring of the stream.
Freshness: Tourists wade across the stream in Khe Rỗ Primitive Forest. — Photo dulichbacgiang.gov.vn
Occasionally, we chanced upon small lakes. The water was so transparent that we could see clear through to their bottom. Children and adults were excited, donning swimsuits and jumping in.
Swimming in such natural pools, with clouds floating above and mirrored in the water, is a great experience. Submerging ourselves in the cool fresh water in the hot weather, the worries and boredom of daily life seemed to be washed away.
Following the small path that runs deep into the forest, making our way through huge tree trunks, we suddenly saw a large stilt house ahead and heard noise. The house turned out to be a resting place for lunch, provided by the forest wardens and local authorities.
According to one resident, the stilt-house was built for the tourists to have lunch and take a break, but also to prevent them from setting fire by cooking in the forest and throwing waste. It is situated near the centre of the forest and surrounded by breathtaking landscape. Visitors can enjoy either the food they bring along or traditional cuisines like “carried-under-arm” pigs, roasted chicken or stir-fried local vegetables.
In the afternoon, when we started to feel tired, we stopped at a homestay accomodation. Night in the forest was strangely tranquil. The next morning, after being woken up by the melodious singing of the birds, we felt so blessed to have had the opportunity to enjoy such fresh air and beautiful evergreen nature stretching in front of our eyes. — VNS