In nature’s embrace

Meandering through lush forests and tapering mountains ranges, the Suoi Ngoc (Pearl Stream) in Hanoi’s Thach That District invites visitors to lose themselves in the natural splendor of its environs.

From the heart of the capital city, we headed south along the Thang Long Boulevard for around 40 kilometers to reach the 300-hectare Suoi Ngoc – Vua Ba Tourism Park.

Small stilt houses stood at the bottom of the mountains like mushrooms that spring up after a fresh rain. The Suoi Ngoc navigated rocks of various sizes before cascading into a grandiose nine-layer waterfall and smashing into white foam and mist below.

Legend has it that Hai Ba Trung (Trung Sisters) chose the river and surrounding mountains as a military base in their fight against Chinese invaders in 40 AD. The heroines won the battle and the older sister, Trung Trac, established herself as the ruler of an independent state.

Commemorating the heroine, people have named the former military base Suoi Ngoc – Vua Ba (Pearl Stream – Lady King).

We sat on large rocks along the river and closed our eyes, listening to it murmur. There was a feeling that we’d gotten rid of all the worries we were entangled in as we lived our busy lives in downtown Hanoi.

To make this feeling complete, we bathed in the clear waters at the bottom of the 100-meter high waterfall.

Further down a tributary of the river, tamed horses stood nibbling grass with an air of contentment. They were not saddled, but we were told that they are very gentle and that tourists could ride them around the park.

We walked into the forest. Wild flowers of different kinds line the path on either side. The path was covered with fallen leaves and shadowed by the canopy of tall trees.

In the forest we saw a banyan tree whose trunk was so large that it took seven people hand-inhand to surround it. We rested there for a while, relishing the peaceful atmosphere as well as the xoi (sticky rice) that we’d brought along from Hanoi. The river, wind and birds kept up their soothing melodies.

Next, we climbed up the Vua Ba Mountain, more than 1,000 meters high. From the top, the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. At the temple dedicated to Hai Ba Trung on the mountain top, we burnt incense to commemorate the heroines for the glorious chapter they wrote in the nation’s history.

After climbing down the mountain, we tried our hand at many folk games including archery and walking on stilts. For those looking for more adventure, there is a water park with 18 water spouts, we were told.

After a thoroughly satisfying day, we relaxed in the stilt houses, and enjoyed local specialties including forest bamboo sprouts, ‘wild’ chicken and drank a little wine. Lulled by the cool weather of the mountains, we fell asleep soon after.

Reported by Tien Thanh

The lower stream of the Suoi Ngoc. Visitors can refresh themselves, bathing in its clear waters.

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