Monday, March 14, 2011

Falling Fairies

Entrance to Suoi Tien

Suoi Tien is a commonly used name for a water-like attraction in Vietnam. Suoi meaning stream, Tien meaning fairy. So in English not as straight forward as commonly thought. Fairies are an often recurring theme in Vietnamese legends and with Suoi Tien, Khanh Hoa province the legend goes as follow:
'Legend has it that a giant from Binh Dinh Province visited Suoi Tien thousands of years ago. Enchanted by its charm, the giant accidentally slid into the stream. One of his feet landed on a boulder on the bank of the river, flattening it to create a smooth surface in the middle of the stream. The flat stone served as a place for fairies from heaven to play after coming down to earth for a swim. The flat stone is now an ideal resting point for visitors who want to conquer the upstream flow of the river'.
Note that the website from which I gained this insight has a photo of another stream (possibly for fairies) presumably more south (Mui Ne?).

The stream at entrance, with man-made pool.
Note the extensive scarring beyond, a sign of times to come

Getting There
Anyway, this Suoi Tien is located not so far from Nha Trang, the provincial capital. Passed the
17th century citadel of Dien Khahn one takes a left and continues towards the hills, sign boarding is unpredictable. There is also a number of internet sites that imply taking a turn from highway 1, south of Nha Trang in the village of Suoi Dao.
And finally a new by-pass is being built which will alter the directions altogether. The final 1 km up to the foot of the mountain
is a poor road , though small scale repairs were underway. A total of 20-25 km from Nha Trang (45 min.).

Plans are being drawn up, according to this reference:
'under a 15 year plan to build hotels, bungalows, regenerate forest, etc'.
So by then it should be less difficult to find!
Considering the amount of scarring this process (construction) is already resulting in (see photo above), the regeneration part will probably entail a long term restoration of what they had initially undertaken.
Sims [1] adds:
'Past the parking area a bar, restaurant, and tourist office are under construction. This once hidden gem is under wraps no more!

The downside to tourism is evident in all the litter seen strewn about, despite the odd rubbish bin'.
Other references are less expansive. LP [2] has a short paragraph on Suoi Tien:
'This enchanting spring seems to pop up out of nowhere.

It has been earmarked as the next big ecotourism site, which paradoxically probably means massive over-development, but it is still peaceful if you hike upstream'.
Anyway despite the nearness to Nha Trang and the obvious attractiveness for recreation, a week day mid-morning, March 2011, sees little or no crowds at all, quite sleepy.

An entrance fee is required (10,000 VND; ~ US$ 0,50) and then ione can wander up the stream. Despite aforementioned plans, there's still hardly anything to be had, at the entrance; even buying a drink is only just do-able.

The first set of falls which have been enhanced see a large crowd of drunk local teenagers, but continuing onwards through the stream bed one can seek solitude easily.


There's a passage below an overhanging rock and at a certain place an inlet for drinking water. Continuing through the bed stream brings one in still quieter places, though refuse still bears witness to a superior (?) civilisation.

Finally I find a nice sun drenched sandy pool and take an au-naturel plunge and reconnect with my inner-self. Birds everywhere, a nice place indeed.

Though not a waterfall in the strictest sense, it does contain many drops of a meter or more. There are a lot of pools to cool off in and if motivated one can continue onward up the mountain.
Sims [2] describes continuing as follows:
'Locals say that if you follow the stream to its source, about a two day hike, you’ll reach a magical chess board used long ago by fairies’.
Closeby is another stream, Suoi Nguon which according to Sims [1] misses the extensive development of the other nearby sites (see Ba Ho and Yang Bay) and signifies
‘it’s peaceful atmosphere with little to no other people around’.
Suoi Nguon can be reached by taking the road up Hon Ba mountain. Some pictures of Suoi Nguon are to be seen from this
web album.

[1] Sims, A. (2010) Nha Trang Guide Book 2011-2012 Edition
EBT Media, Nha Trang, Vietnam.
[2] Ray, N., Y.-M. Balasingamchow, I. Stewart (2010)
Vietnam. 10th Edition. Lonely Planet, Footscray, Australia

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