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A weekend at My Duc, nature’s hidden gem in Hanoi

Thursday, September 01, 2016, 13:03 GMT+7

My Duc, a district of Hanoi, is blessed with majestic limestone mountains reflected on the surface of it’ expansive lakes, creating beautiful scenery.

Correspondents from Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper spent a day of their weekend exploring the masterpiece crafted by nature after a suggestion from a friend.

Conquering Pho Da Son

After meeting at Nga Tu So, the group went to Ba La, following National Road 21B to My Duc.

The rocky road was a challenge the motorcycle riders, but, left of the road, a vast lake area came into view, its deep blue, placid surface mirroring the blue sky and the up-and-down of the mountains.

The mountaineers then parked their motorcycles inside Quan Am Temple, and began their quest to conquer Pho Da Son peak, some 300 meters above sea level.

The steep steps drained the stamina of the group, most of whom work sedentary office jobs, and they were soon drenched in their own sweat.

The higher they climbed, the quieter and more empty the mountain became. The amusing sight of wildflowers, sprinkled onto green leaves rejuvenated them. Below them was the expanse of Tuy Lai Lake and far away were villages and rice paddies, fading in the all-encompassing bright sunlight.

Having completed 1,500 stone steps, they reached Cao temple, stopped for a few minutes of rest, and resolved to reach Pho Da Son peak before noon.

Since there is no trail, they used their hands to cling to the stones to propel themselves upwards. Looking for more grips, they took their shoes off and climbed barefoot until finally, the entrance of Ngoc Long cave appeared in front of them.

From Ngoc Long cave, climbers can cast their eyes below and capture the entirety of the scenery, or look further out to see Hai Ngon peak and Ban Co peak, both surrounded by floating clouds.

Like a giant air conditioner, the cave blew a stream of cool air at the explorers.

They hunched down at the puddles inside the cave and washed their hands with the cool water. Above them, stalactites hung from the ceiling, shining mysteriously in the colorful lights.

Ha Long Bay on land

Not far from Pho Da Son and Tuy Lai Lake is Quan Son Lake, whose hundreds of mountains and islands earn it the nickname “Ha Long Bay on land.”

When the explorers arrived there, the surface was covered with blooming white flowers.

In order to appreciate the beauty of the lake in its entirety, they decided to climb the Cot Co peak on Hoa Qua Son Island.

The boat that brought the explorers to the mountain was rowed by two local women, who enthusiastically chatted with them about Quan Son Lake.

After 45 minutes of riding on the water, they arrived at Hoa Qua Son Island, which is one of the biggest islands in Quan Son Lake, and, according to locals, was previously inhabited by a large pack of monkeys.

Even though Cot Co peak is not as tall as Pho Da Son, the trail to the peak is incredibly difficult.

In addition to climbing slippery, steep rocks with extremely narrow footholds, the explorers also had to avoid branches blocking their path and the bees and insects humming above them.

They were exhausted after reaching Cot Co, but, looking around, they realized that their effort had not been in vain.

Against a clear blue sky, mountain after mountain appeared in front of them, while beneath them was Quan Son Lake, covered in white and pink flowers.

Quan Son Lake’s reputation as the ‘Ha Long Bay on land’ was well-deserved, the explorers thought as they stood on Cot Co peak, savoring the beauty of their surroundings.

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