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Elephants amble through rare hill landscape to Phu Cuong waterfall

posted Aug 12, 2011, 7:12 PM by Dong Travel   [ updated Aug 12, 2011, 7:18 PM by Mickey Dong Hoang Thinh ]
Duong Le Tinh and her group of American friends were thrilled to arrive at Phu Cuong Waterfall in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) Province of Gia Lai.

"We chose the destination because we wanted to discover a beautiful virgin land by a less-travelled path, and decided to tour Dun Village on the backs of elephants," said Tinh.

Tinh said her group had to properly greet the elephants before climbing up to sit on armchairs tied carefully on their backs.

"At first we were scare of falling, but soon we began to feel more comfortable. It was fun, particularly when the elephant carried us up a slope or knelt down to drink water at a stream," said Tinh.

After a ride through the wilderness of Chu Se District, the elephants made their way through the nearby Don and Jun villages in the neighbouring province of Dac Lac, where located many houses on stilts of the Ba Na and Gia Rai ethnic groups.

Tinh's friend Paul Buckle said he enjoyed the ride because the elephants led them past green terraces, fields of wildflowers, and mountain streams – many beautiful landscapes he had never seen before.

Then the elephants reached the main site of the tour: the Phu Cuong Waterfall about 3km outside Chu Se and 45km south of Pleiku city.

With its source in the high mountains, the 45m waterfall feeds first into La Peet Stream and then the Ayun River, where the Auyn Ha irrigation construction project has a 3,700ha reservoir. This body provides the 253 million cubic metres of water that powers the Ayun Ha hydro-electric power plant.

"We spent half an hour enjoying the waterfall. The current and the spray were so strong that we felt as though we were standing inside a cloud."

"It was like a white silk scarf surrounded by wild green trees and flowers, a striking sight against the blue sky," said Tinh.

Tinh and her group continued touring the Ayun River by boat, fishing and listening to bird songs. Buckle said what he liked most was talking with local people who settled along the river banks.

"The people were very friendly. They invited us to partake in their meal of boiled forest bamboo shoots and grilled lang fish, an unforgettable speciality of the region. The meal was so tasty that we all were full and happy," said Buckle.

He said that in the evening, his group slept at the home of an old man, where the guests sang and danced with the local youth.

"Our host told us about the epics and gongs of Tay Nguyen [which has been recognised by UNESCO as intangible heritage of humanity]. He promised to teach us how to play a gong the next day," said Buckle, adding that his tour was both significant and memorable.

Buckle said he will bring his parents to the area by the end of the year.

Chairman of Chu Se District People's Committee Nguyen Hong Linh said the district has encouraged travel agencies to increase tours to the area, so that more people can discover and enjoy its natural beauty.

Every year, hundreds of local and foreign travellers visit Chu Se to explore its nature and relax, said Linh. An official from the Gia Lai Province's Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, Phan Xuan Vu, said the province has called for investors to build more roads and facilities to attract more people to visit Gia Lai.

Source: VNN