Rugged, difficult roads, more endurance - that's what Ta Nang trekking brings. However, the result you will get back is more than doubly!
I did travel to border areas or wandered to remote islands, and of course I am well aware of the limitations of the technology. At the places I once passed, the telephone signal might be unstable sometimes; 3G signal can be temporarily forgotten in a few hours, and whatever – there’s always a little electricity available. However, to be totally disconnected with the rest of the world during 3 days in a special space like Ta Nang with only us and the nature is a different story. Believe me, totally different!
It was true I had no idea about what I would have to experience when agreeing to participate the journey through the forest from Lam Dong to Binh Thuan. In my head, Ta Power was merely a few pictures about a sun-scorched grass, and a few good reviews on the internet. At that time I was having a really bad week in the city, and just wanted to quickly escape from the stifling city as soon as possible. I just waited for someone inviting to agree. Ta Nang? Wherever! Many people said it’s pretty nice, let's go!
To begin the journey, we took a sleep bus from Saigon to Dalat and asked the driver to drop us off at Ta Hine junstion. The schedule of the trip was trekking from Ta Hine (Lam Dong) down to Binh Thuan – estimated at about 40km in total. It was only 3 AM, the junction was so dark. So far away were only a few dim glimmering from restaurants opened early to serve the drivers who work all night long. At 6 am, the tour guide with a huge backpack and a bright smile appeared. Totally contrast with what I imagined, he is short but not kind of small. He looks very manly and solid with the experienced appearance in the face. Four of us catched 2 motorbike taxis and then drove to towards the forest edge.
The first stage on the trekking route was quite smoothly. Our group was walking between pine forests on the two sides of the road with sparkling sunshine through the leaves. Lots of beautiful landscape on the way that I had never seen before: the vividly green wetlands, a vast green rice fileds, few prairies dotted with small wooden houses among cornfields with indescribable peace. The guide introduced to us many kinds of wild trees and fruits. I thought that we just can enjoy raspberries in a far country abroad – but here in Vietnam it’s possible in the forest we was passing through. It also promised a delicious hot pot with wild vegetable for dinner – so amazing and exciting.
After lunch we were out of the forest, started walking toward the terrain section called "pasture". The first afternoon was spent to go through grassy area to the campsite on the highest hill. The pasture is a large area with natural landscape going from A to O – meaning that you will unconsciously say "Ah" and "Oh" during the walking. I think the word “immense” seems to be an accurate word to describe the area. You can see in the photo, we are just tiny dots in a corner, but in fact, let’s imagine the space is about 7 times bigger, then you will understand how little we were among the sky and earth.
Trekking never is a bed of roses. To go through all of the prairie terrain, we had to 5 hills in total (3 for the first day) which are about 600-800m high in average (that is equivalent to a 40-story building, steep about 60 degrees). Of course, we walked in the sun with a big backpack on the back filled with food and drinking water. Needless to say a lot, I broke down right at the 10th steps on the first hill. And so, I always had to stop for a while after every 10 steps, everyone encouraged me and tried to help with my backpack, or pushed me up the steep section.
The steep in Ta Nang were so strange: the peaks continued to appear everytime you passed the hill, like they never end. You get the peak and then you will see another, then another peak... After about 5, 7 attempts like that, I didn’t think about it anymore but slowly moved. I thought no matter how slowly I walk, I would get to the destination as long as I do not give up. Among the high slopes, the cool wind, a vast sea of grass below, tiny me walked so slowly in hardship because of tiring. Suddenly I thought that the idea of many young people to earn a lot of money to spend when they are retired, when the body becomes old, climbing stairs in the house is also a difficulty like climbing a mouintain and few steps from home to the alley is an exhausting journey... at that time all treasures cannot exchange for youth.
I finally arrived in the campsite after slowly passing through three hills. The feeling at that time was indeed unable to describe. It ứa like all the tiring time you suffered was paid off worthly every minute every second. Our campsite was at the top of the highest hill, and no words can describe the beauty of the place because "immense" is really not enough.
Standing among the stunningly beautiful landscape, I really did not know what to do but standing quietly on the green grass. The painting was so perfect that it’s no use to describe or draw something more. No matter how modern the camera is, using your own eyes to enjoy the scenmery and your own ears to listen to the whisper of the mountains is the best.
The evening of us passed in the flickering firelight, where four people in four different worlds sitting down together among the immesnse forest and mountains, telling each other about their lives, about youth, about dreams. No longer the scene of people sticked with the phone, we removed the troublesome discomfort from the civilized world, put away unpleasant bells. Happiness sometimes is just a delicious wild vegetables hot pot, a warm cup of ginger tea and we relied on each other to enjoy the sparkling flame at night. Until we were lying inside the tent, songs from the tiny speakers that my friend carried were still echo in my ears, harmonious with the sound of wind on the hills.
The second day’s itinerary was similar to the first day: we needed to overcome the grassland and 2 more hills which are equal to a 40-storey building, and walk through about 10 km in the forest to get to the next spring before evening. However, the road is from the plateau to the plains, from high to low terrain, so the trees along the road became sparser, climate became hot and hotter while the water was only about 3 liters for 4 people. The slops were still as hard as yesterday’s but water was not enough for me today. And we continued to walk under the burning sun of the plains, only siped a little bit water when someone was too thirsty.
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All roads have its end as long as we don’t give up halfway, as long as we are patience to continue. And I will always remember the breaking moment when I heard the murmuring sound of the spring, and it gradually appeared in front of my eyes: the clear spring water skillfully wriggled through the rocks and playfully flowing. Having water means we could eat and drink as much as we want, we could have a bath after 2 days walking long distance. Water is life, no water means no life, the road ahead hence became much softer. We managed to get a second campsite on the banks of streams at 4pm.
The tour guide entertained us with stories of the jungle that he had experienced. That was the days he was alone in the sacred forest of Bach Ma, the moment he faced with life and death. He spent most of his time wandering in the forests, making friend with the nature, no need modern amenities, not care about the life out there ... The fire was still shining, and little flames shoot aimlessly up thick darkness and the blinking fireflies. The forest was so dark but also so bright with us.
The third day passed relatively softly as we passed all hilly terrain, and ahead of us there was an only flat road. We were satisfied with eating, drinking water and also having bath. In fact, the road was not easy as we has to go through some grass which were as high as an adult or overcome trees with huge roots.
2 last days were so hard, so at the 3rd day, it was very soothing for us. In addition, the desire to complete the hiking trip made us walk forward faster, and it finally took only 3 hours to get to the forest edge. Walking about 5 km more under the sun, we began to see some vehicles passing by, then the people, houses and villages. Instead of feeling excited to leave behind the village and houses to start the journey, when we were out of the forest after the trip, the feeling was a mess: I was just happy, excited, touched, and a little bit regretful.
And finally my journey ended with 1 a refreshing cool coke and inside me was a similar cheery mood. I've done some crazy trips in my life like travelling through Vietnam, or participating in the 100km road cycling, and then a hiking trip into the jungle which is like “mortification” – as my friends commented, but it’s true that no trip made me regretful. Whether madness or exhausted, I am more mature after every trip, and both bigger and smaller: more mature than I was yesterday but so small in front of the nature and humankind.
Just go while you can.
- To prepare for the trip to Ta Nang in 3 days, except the clothes you are wearing, you need to bring one pair of pants, three shirts, three pairs of socks, a pair of shoes really good for hiking, a pair of flip flop, anti-mosquito cream, sunscreen, sleeping bag, tent, the full-charged battery backup, wipes and food, lots of chocolate. Please note that the things you carry should be as light as possible.
- From Ta Hine junction to the wood, it is about 40 kilometers, there will be few motorbike taxi drivers offer ride to the wood. Price for a ride is at around VND 200,000 (8-9 USD). If you are travelling in a big group, you should order a cab for more comfortable.
- Prepare carefully your health to make sure you have a good physical condition before starting the trip, especially if you are not used to exercise. Those who play sport everyday still can be tired when hiking the Ta Nang because of lack endurance. It is best to complete the Ta Nang trip in 3 days. If it is shorter, you will be tired and hence cannot enjoy the beauty anymore.