Buddhas and Fairies
Ta Cu Mountain Travel Blog› entry 7 of 15 › view all entries
No such thing as sleeping late today, at eight we are at Kim Loanâ€™s to pick up our mopeds. Carolineâ€™s driver is already waiting and so is my transport for today. It is a Honda with manual gear shift and that is something I didnâ€™t expect. I have never owned a moped, so I havenâ€™t got a clue what to do. Apparently mopeds with automated gearboxes are very hard to come by in Vietnam, so thereâ€™s not much of a choice. While Trudy argues with the owner of the business, I get a crash course in Honda driving and master the required skills within minutes.
By 8.30 am we are on our way to the reclining Buddha on Ta Cu Mountain. We take a short brake near a central cemetery at nine oâ€™clock, apparently the government has been able to convince the people of this region not to bury their dead on their own land.
From here on we drive non stop. The route to the location of the Buddha is not as easy as we thought it would be and there seems to be no end to it. The decision we made yesterday to stay off the busy highway goes out the window too. Carolineâ€™s driver pushes his Honda to its limits in order to make the trip as short as possible, but because of the grains of sand blowing in our faces, which is quite painful in the long run, we tell him to slow down a bit. The drive goes on and on and when we finally start doubting the driverâ€™s navigating skills and ask him to turn around, he tells us itâ€™s just five more minutes. And heâ€™s right. The map we saw yesterday wasnâ€™t drawn to scale, the one way trip turned out to be 49 kilometres instead of 20. We would never have found this, if it werenâ€™t for the driver...
We take a left turn off the highway and after a stretch of dirt road we see a fairly large parking lot and a ticket office.
When we get out Caroline buys some incense sticks to burn in the temple, which is up a large flight of stairs on the way to the statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha. In the temple a lot of people are making sacrifices, from the burning of incense to the offering of fresh fruit. There goes a paved trail further up the mountain, with here and there some large statues of important figures I cannot identify.
We appear to be almost the only tourists here, and this makes it all even more special, but we are everything but alone, there are picnicking Vietnamese families everywhere we look between the trees beside the walkway.
After quite an uphill walk, from a distance, through the trees, we see the statue of the reclining Buddha. This thing is huge! When we come closer, we see five children sitting in the shade under the Buddhaâ€™s cheek. The statue is ten metres high and 49 metres long, making it one of the two largest reclining Buddhas in South East Asia.
When we want to go down again, one of the picnicking families call us. We walk up to them and they invite us to drink a beer with them. The beer hasnâ€™t seen a fridge from the inside for a long time, and therefore it is at room temperature, at this time of day being about 30 degrees Celsius. Since we do not speak each otherâ€™s languages, we drink and smile. Of course it is an amazing experience and it gives evidence to the friendliness and hospitality of the Vietnamese people.
When we get back to the first temple, at a distance we see a small building where snacks and beverages are sold. It is obvious that this place too is meant mostly for locals, since the menu is in Vietnamese only. We order by pointing out what we want in the display window. We join some locals in the far corner of the establishment. At first the ladies are shy, but after a little while of smiling and talking with hands and feet, they hang around my neck and start hand-feeding me their own food, while chattering and laughing out loud.
On the way down with the cable car we have a nice view over the surrounding area, while discussing this morningâ€™s experience, concluding that we havenâ€™t seen more than five tourists during our stay here, which we think is rather unique.
Itâ€™s 12.30 am when we leave the parking lot, making our way back to Mui Ne. We visit the Cham tower on the opposite side of the road from the cemetery we saw earlier, but this tower isnâ€™t very special, so we are on our way pretty quick again.
Back in Mui Ne we have lunch at Kim Loanâ€™s and then Trudy and I hop on our moped again to see if we can find the Red Canyon. This will prove not to be a success. We are close, but cannot find the actual location. Two Vietnamese women tell us where to go when I ask them for the Canyon. Unfortunately they didnâ€™t really understand my question and they have sent us directly to their orchard. Some other tourists we meet have searched in vain as well and we decide to stop the wild goose chase, go back to Kim Loanâ€™s where we drop off the moped, and start walking the Fairy Stream.
We take off our shoes and go into the water, which is no more than 15 cm deep. The walk normally takes about 30 minutes to the waterfall, where the stream begins. It takes us much longer, because around every corner new limestone formations emerge that look like they come right out of a fairytale. Curved arches and rounded pillars in red and white intertwined with small streams of water coming from God knows where. Here too, the wind is strong, blowing dune sand into eyes and mouths, slowing us further down. About 200 metres before reaching the waterfall, the water gets much deeper and we get wet to our groins, making it kind of a challenge keeping our wallets and cameras dry. The light already starts to fade when we reach the waterfall, that lies at the end of a mini Blue Lagoon.
Now we have no time to waste, thereâ€™s no artificial light here, and stumbling around like blind men on terrain we donâ€™t know doesnâ€™t sound like a good idea.
No more than ten minutes after we get out of the water it is completely dark, but although we had to rush I wouldnâ€™t have missed it for the world.
After a swim in the pool and a well deserved dinner we go to bed at 10.45 pm.