Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cemented this one

It’s always difficult to present nature in it’s original state to tourists, such that it is appealing. Apparently, in Vietnam nature is required to be conquered before it can be appreciated. Conquered by the masses.

Yang Bay waterfall ("waterfall of the heaven") ranks as
Khanh Hoa’s number one inland tourist location. Why? Because it’s been tamed and enhanced?

Enhancing includes a bear pit, a crocodile enclosure and a fish lake. An area where one can experience local ethnic customs, such as pig racing. And listening to a music performance by the local Raglai:
'Gia Rai residents are proud of their musical ability and are only too happy to entertain visitors. They play traditional instruments such as the chapi, t’rung, tacung flute, taleploi clarinet and the dan da (stone instrument)'. source
Taming means wide lanes and lots of cement. Making (and applying) rules. And cordoning sections off to make sure the masses stay docile ...

But it’s a waterfall! Hmmm.

Located at nearly 50 km west of
Nha Trang, the capital of Khanh Hoa, currently the access road heading west is being reconstructed. In absence of the completion one needs to take the only other road west, Highway 26A (to Dalat) which goes through the 17th century citadel of Dien Khahn. Eventually one heads more southwards into more hillier terrain, the hills covered with cassava and sugarcane.

Then over a higher hill one suddenly is at Yang Bay with it’s wide tree lined roads. One parks close to the ticket office (30,000 VND, ~ US$ 1,50) and as with me I apparently also bought a ticket (another 10,000 VND) for inside the park transport.

A golf cart brings me up 300m to a place closer to the falls.
Here’s a restaurant and a number of outlets selling everything but a good cup of coffee. This being an early morning through the week visit, it’s nice and quiet. Hardly any visitors and a lot of cleaning going on. It certainly is clean; hurray for businesses taking over the nature.

About 100m beyond the stop the road is back at the level of the stream. On the other bank of the river is a smaller waterfall called Yang Khang which functions as backdrop to the above mentioned music show.

Yang Khang waterfall, note that one is not allowed on the rocks themselves ...

Yang Bay
In the mainstream is the Yang Bay waterfall: a wide fall of a number of steps, going down by as much as 20m. A wide path brings one to the top of the fall where it’s probably intended to take a photo and return back to civilization.

Beyond this point is a wide boulder strewn valley floor, which provably extends for a lot further. Travelfish describes there being another set of falls about a kilometer up.
Instead of seeking this other set, I decide to see if another waterfall closeby, Ho Cho is reachable. See the upcoming blog entry on this fall.

Yang Bay

Even though over-commercialized and sanitized, Yang Bay is still worth the visit; at least if there are not too many visitors. Lines have been set out showing where one can (or must) swim and it’s certainly safe, albeit overly civilized.

First hand experience by other visitors is not easily to come by. Travelfish mention:
'The main falls have been heavily modified, and some swimming areas have been artificially created, but the effect is fairly natural and quite beautiful'.
Wikitravel adds:
'It used to be a lot nicer before they built it but it is still a very nice place to visit'.
The current situation is only a situation which consists from mid-2008, when the part underwent an upgrade to the original construction of 2004 (source). The owner of
Yang Bay Tourist Park is the company known as Khatoco. Besides industrial activities and the local professional football of Nha Trang, it is responsible for the 570 ha park. In a news item the company is said to have more plans:
'We plan to invest billions of dong in Yang Bay. We want to build a mud bath and a high-end resort,” Khanh said with a smile surveying the beautiful countryside. “Then more people will be able to enjoy the nature and the loveliness of the reserve'.
Hmmm, I might have some reservations of this type of tourism which caters to masses. Then again, commercial interests have some potential unforeseen consequences:
'Le Cong Ra, director of the Yang Bay Tourist Park, said he and his subordinates are very worried knowing that loggers are destroying the forest in the upper part of the Yang Bay Fall'.
The outcome is more stringent enforcement.

You are here. At the cross road. Left to Ho Cho, straight ahead Yang Bay and Yang Khang.

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