Trekking back to the Vietnam adventure of Yersin
Believe me – it’s not a leisure walk but a journey requiring great strength and strong will. Trekking more than 40 kilometres up and down hilly and mountainous forests to trace the trail of Alexandre Yersin is a special tour Vietmark Co. launches as an additional offer to the Tea Festival ready to kick off in Lam Dong Province next month.
Last week, I followed the staff of the Ho Chi Minh City-based tourism company on a hard trek through the forests of Di Linh Plateau on the trail of French explorer Yersin, who started his adventure 115 years ago to discover the plateau. Actually, the “Trail of Alexandre Yersin 1891” tour really begins when you travel some eight kilometres on a soil road to Phan Son Commune, previously known as Kalon Village, in Bac Binh District, Binh Thuan Province. There, ethnic guides will accompany you to cross the streams at the old village and paddle rice fields and bamboo bridges over streams of the village in the wee hours as warm-ups before trekking up a range of hills and mountains.
You will put your strength to test when you walk two hours along the path up to a rocky mountain, which is not far from the village in the central province of Binh Thuan. Leaves of old trees start to turn yellow in the winter time and some dry leaves have already fallen down the path for you to step on, making an interestingly rustling sound all the way to the peak at 429 meters above sea level. Here and there in the forest, you will come across ethnic men and women carrying bamboo baskets on their backs and going barefooted to catch fish, harvest vegetables and other products of the forests.
Keep walking along the winding path, and you’ll cross streams and brooks whose water currents shape stones and sand soil into different figures depending on your imagination. It is by one of the streams that you will rest and prepare your lunch from what you’ve brought with you. Listening to the running water is the pleasure that you receive when resting by the pristine streams flowing through rocky tiers and soil in the forest. Don’t rest too long, as you have to trek a long way to Giap River and cross it before the sun is down to set a fire, build up a tent and cook your dinner before going to sleep for your health and strength to recover for a long trip the next day.
Spending the night by the river is a nice experience. The fire warms you and the sound of water murmuring down boulders and low hills lull you to a sound sleep after a day of trekking. The sweet singing of birds near and far will wake you up and release the tiredness of your body and pains of your feet and shoulders early the next day.
The way from the river to Bao Thuan Village, where you can take a car or motorbike to Di Linh Town, is really a hard test of your health and durability. You must pass steep slopes down and up hills and mountains and through dense forests and grass-plots, where leeches lie in wait to suck your blood on whatever parts they can. However, don’t let the leech put you off the idea of the hard but unforgettable adventure as you use anti-worm lotion or spray. The peak that you will have to conquer is around 1,200 meters above sea level and the awards for you are wild flowers, magnificent views and much more.
The other attractions of the second day of trekking include the old village Taly, whose inhabitants left more than 30 years ago to move near to towns along accessible roads and highways. The nearby Taly Stream was where Yersin and his entourage called a halt and is now a good place to rest and take water for cooking and drinking.
Remember to bring warm and light clothes, shoes, medicines, a torch and other life’s necessities with you for the adventure. You will learn some basic skills to survive in the forest from ethnic guides.
Vietmark director of marketing Truong Hoang Phuong says the tour is for tourists to learn about trekking and camping skills, team spirit as well as discover the beauty of wild life.