Looking for colourful langurs at Son Tra

Rare, long-tailed langurs can be seen on the islets of Sup and Rang off Son Tra Peninsula in central Da Nang. Cong Thanhreports.

IYou don’t have to take an airplane to have an exotic tropical adventure, as 26-year-old Pham Cong Vuong found on a recent visit to the Son Tra Peninsula in central Da Nang.

For only VND450,000 (US$22) per person, Vuong and six friends got to spend a full day trailing langur (Pygathrix nemaeus) through lush tropical forests and diving in the colorful coral reefs around the islets of Sup and Rang.

Resting 500m above sea level, Son Tra forest is home to a flock of 20 langurs, amidst a rich ecosystem of primary flora and fauna.

At 5.30am, Vuong and his friends boarded a van to travel to the forest, where they hoped to see langurs up close.

“We urge tourists to go early in the morning, because langurs will retreat far away from the main road after they eat breakfast,” said Nguyen Hieu Trung, a guide from Da Nang-based Huy Khanh travel agency.

“Also don’t scream out loud when you spot one,” he urged. “The animal is sensitive to even tiny environmental changes in the forest, so visitors must be quiet and walk slowly if they want to see langurs at close range,” he said.

After 15 minutes in the van, the group of six neared the summit of Son Tra Mountain, a favourite site for hungry langurs because of the abundant fruit and leaves.

“It’s a long time since I’ve got up so early in the morning. I heard of langurs before, but it’s the first time I saw them up close,” Vuong said.

Near a big tree, a group of five monkeys nibbled on dark leaves. Vuong and his friends put on soft shoes and tiptoed slowly towards the creatures.

“Quiet, please,” Trung warned. “If visitors make noise, the troop leader will warn the other members to run away.”

Langurs forage in a different area every day, so it’s not guaranteed that visitors will catch sight of them. Luckily, Vuong came so close to the elusive creatures that he was able to snap a photo of a troop leader before it slipped away from the top of a big tree.

“It saw my lens and started making loud noises, signaling the other members that strangers were encroaching on their territory. It was an interesting moment to witness,” he recalled.

The Bien Dong Resort at the foot of the mountain was the group’s next stop. From there, they traveled 15 kilometres by motorboat to a cluster of rocky islets, where they would go snorkeling.

Phan The Hieu, a member of the boat crew, reminded the group to put on their life-jackets before diving into the water.

At 2m deep, the brilliantly coloured coral reefs spread out before the snorkelers like a garden of flowers.

“I saw many kinds of fish swimming among the coral. It was like a colourful painting. However, the snorkel only helped for 30 seconds because I had to hold my breath while putting my face in the water,” said Nguyen Xuan Mai. “I wished I could go scuba diving to get closer to the coral reef and catch fish with my hands.”

While group members were snorkelling, Hieu prepared bait for fishing. “Shrimp are my favourite bait for fish,” he said. “Even though fish living in the coral reefs are small, snorkellers can watch them take the bait. It’s interesting for people who have only seen fish swallow bait on TV.”

Each member of the group received a fishing line with a baited hook. Nguyen Thi My Hanh dropped the line first.

“It was very interesting. I put the line in the water and waited for a few seconds. I saw three black and four red groupers swimming around. As soon as the biggest one caught the bait, I pulled the line and got the fish,” Hanh said. “I almost cried when I took the fish out of the water. However, when my friends finished snapping photos for Facebook, I had to release it.”

Tran Aùnh Duong snared a big mackerel. “I had to be patient because it’s a big fish. It suspected the bait was on a hook, so it swam around, but it finally bit the bait and I caught it,” Duong said.

After an hour of fishing, the group was taken to a beach, where they enjoyed a seafood lunch. “We had a full day of interesting activities. We finished tired, but happy,” Vuong said.

“We had good practice fishing and trailing animals in the forest. It was an unforgettable experience. We’ll return here someday to breathe fresh air and explore the world of marine creatures more deeply.” — VNS

Wide blue sea: ÂA beach view of Son Tra peninsula in Da Nang City. Tourists have made it a favourite destination for summer holidays. — VNS Photo CongThanh

What is it?: ÂDivers get close to an odd fish on the Son Tra peninsula off the coastal city of Da Nang.


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