Binh Thuan


Following Nguyen Thong’s footsteps

Photo of Entry:  Following Nguyen Thong’s footsteps

Patriot and poet Nguyen Thong made several trips through virgin forests and mountains in search of safety during the fight against the French before submitting a report to King Tu Duc in 1877. During the final month of his journey, he covered La Ngau, Gia An, Bien Lac Lake and a number of other sites that still exist today in Binh Thuan Province.

More than 130 years have passed since Thong’s journey across the central province. Today, the trails Thong traveled are not nearly as difficult to trek as they were a century ago, but still a challenge for those unaccustomed to the terrain.


Challenges and danger lurk along the trail. In fact, on a recent trip along the trail, we lost our way in the forest.


The trip began at the Deo Nam Forest Ranger Station in Ham Thuan Nam District. Before we began the journey, we burned incense at Thong’s tomb at the foot of Co Mountain, as a memorial gesture dedicated to the patriotic predecessor.  


After that, we boarded a coach that took us to My Thanh Commune where we officially began our 20-kilometer voyage through the forest.


The group was accompanied by local guides and forest rangers along a trail leading to Nui Ong (Ong Mountain).   


We reached the Bom Bi stream an hour into our hike. Crossing the stream during the dry season is much easier than in the rainy season because climbing over a wall beats treading high water. 


Following the stream, we encountered a steep mountain known to rangers as Deo Nam (southern pass). Due to the peek’s great height, a number of people suffered muscle pains in their lower legs. Although some people wanted to give up, the wounded and tired had to move forward because it was impossible to return to the starting point.


Everything progressed as planned until later that afternoon when we lost our way. Our GPS device informed us that we had just walked around in a circle. Some began to panic, while others calmly evaluated how to find our way to Suoi Chet (Death Stream), where dinner and water awaited us.


Luckily, the local guides were able to get us back on track. We moved briskly through the dense, dark forest and were surrounded by different sounds and smells of insects and animals, and a sky full of dimly lit stars. 


Those with flashlights traveled smoothly on the trail, while those without tripped on tree roots, hit their heads on branches and tumbled in small holes.


As we meandered through the forest, a member of our group exclaimed, “There’s running water! It must be the stream where we will camp tonight!”


After a 15-kilometer journey, we finally reached camp at 8p.m. Our group shared a dinner of rice, boiled vegetables and chicken, dried squid and rice wine around a warm camp fire before sleeping in our tents.


We woke up at 6a.m. to the trickling sounds of the Death Stream and birds singing. The tranquility of the forest in the early morning made us want sleep in the tents forever. However, we were unable to indulge because there was not enough food for the whole group to stay another night in the forest.


We left camp at 9a.m., and hydrated and washed ourselves it the Death Stream. We then headed upstream to the La Nga River, which is a branch of the Dong Nai River. The stream and river’s water level were not high, so we were able to overcome both obstacles easily.


We finally exited the forest a couple of hours later. However, we did not visit the Mai Waterfalls, which is also known as the Gold Waterfalls due to a legend about the 7.5 tons of gold hidden underneath the water.

Source SaigonTimes

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